Real Money, Real Experts

Special Edition: Helping Americans financially during the COVID-19 pandemic

May 26, 2020 AFCPE® Season 1 Episode 1
Real Money, Real Experts
Special Edition: Helping Americans financially during the COVID-19 pandemic
Chapters
Real Money, Real Experts
Special Edition: Helping Americans financially during the COVID-19 pandemic
May 26, 2020 Season 1 Episode 1
AFCPE®

In this episode of Real Money, Real Experts, Dr. Mary Bell Carlson and Rebecca Wiggins interview Darlene Goins, Head of Financial Wealth Philanthropy for Wells-Fargo. The three discuss the impact of Coronavirus on the financial planning community and the partnership between AFCPE and Wells-Fargo. Listen in to hear how you can help support your clients and get involved in the conversation at AFCPE.org.

*Show Notes*
00:52 About Darlene Goins
01:41 Interview with Darlene Goins
18:44 Your Two Cents

Resource Links:
AFCPE Wells Fargo Project for free virtual financial counseling/coaching: https://www.afcpe.org/covid19/

Client page to access AFCPE Professionals: https://www.yellowribbonnetwork.org/afcpecovid19

AFCPE Member Forum: https://afcpe.connectedcommunity.org/

Wells Fargo Hands on Banking: https://handsonbanking.org/


We want to hear from you, so be sure to visit our website and follow us on social media!
Facebook/AFCPE | Tweet us @AFCPE | Join us on LinkedIn
Tell us what you're thinking and use #realmoneyrealexperts

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Real Money, Real Experts, Dr. Mary Bell Carlson and Rebecca Wiggins interview Darlene Goins, Head of Financial Wealth Philanthropy for Wells-Fargo. The three discuss the impact of Coronavirus on the financial planning community and the partnership between AFCPE and Wells-Fargo. Listen in to hear how you can help support your clients and get involved in the conversation at AFCPE.org.

*Show Notes*
00:52 About Darlene Goins
01:41 Interview with Darlene Goins
18:44 Your Two Cents

Resource Links:
AFCPE Wells Fargo Project for free virtual financial counseling/coaching: https://www.afcpe.org/covid19/

Client page to access AFCPE Professionals: https://www.yellowribbonnetwork.org/afcpecovid19

AFCPE Member Forum: https://afcpe.connectedcommunity.org/

Wells Fargo Hands on Banking: https://handsonbanking.org/


We want to hear from you, so be sure to visit our website and follow us on social media!
Facebook/AFCPE | Tweet us @AFCPE | Join us on LinkedIn
Tell us what you're thinking and use #realmoneyrealexperts

Rebecca Wiggins:

Welcome to real money real experts, a podcast where leading financial counseling and coaching experts share their stories, their challenges, and their advice for helping people manage money in the real world. I'm your host, Rebecca Wiggins, executive director of the association for financial counseling and planning education or AFCPE. And I'm your cohost, Dr. Mary Bell Carlson. I'm an accredited financial counselor or AFC and the CEO of chief financial mom. Every episode we're taking a deep dive into the topics that personal finance professionals care about, helping clients, building community, and your professional growth. Welcome everyone to real money, real experts podcast. I'm Rebecca

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

and this is Mary. Thanks for taking the time to join us today.

Rebecca Wiggins:

So Mary, I'm really excited to have Darlene Goins on the podcast today. I've had the pleasure of knowing her the last several years through originally through our mutual partner jumpstart coalition. And then over the last several years they have been a great partner and supporter of AFCPE through a research project that we did together. And then through our annual community day that we do each year at our symposium where we provide pro bono financial counseling in the local community. And it's just a really great way to give back. Darlene serves as a senior vice president and the head of financial health philanthropy for the Wells Fargo foundation. Prior to that, she held a variety of leadership roles at FICO and she's just had a ton of interesting experience. So I'm really excited to talk with her about it all today.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Darlene, welcome to the real money real experts show. We're so excited to have you as one of our very first guests on the show and we're both really interested. Tell us a little bit more about yourself and your professional background.

Darlene Goins:

Well, thank you so much for the opportunity to participate in this podcast and I want to thank all of the AFCPE professionals that are listening to our discussion. The financial counseling and coaching services you provide are a fundamental component of any emergency response efforts to the type of economic crisis that we're experiencing now. So thank you very much. So I am honored to lead financial health philanthropy for the Wells Fargo foundation, which is one of the largest corporate foundations in the U S and in my role, I am responsible for combining Wells Fargo's philanthropic resources with our business expertise to improve the financial wellbeing of and really create pathways to economic opportunity for low income communities, people of color and other under-resourced populations and really to try to help close the wealth gap, which has been the issue of our generation.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Absolutely. We're so glad that you are filling that niche in that need. It's so such a great need that we have from so many and so we appreciate all that doing and what Wells Fargo foundation is doing as well. I do have another question for you though. We found out from your background that you actually have a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and a master's degree in engineering, both from Stanford university. Very curious. How did you end up in the financial literacy space?

Darlene Goins:

That's a great question. I had no idea that my career would lead me here, but I, I count my blessings each day to be able to lead meaningful work that I'm extremely passionate about and that really feeds my soul. My engineering and decision analysis education really led me to the field of data science applied to the financial services industry. So whether I was in a data scientist role, a product management role or sales role, I was always focused on how people make decisions, especially under various constraints and looking at ways to empower people and businesses to make better decisions. And then while at FICO, almost a decade ago, there were a lot of educational credit scores that weren't used in lending decisions that were flooding the market, creating a lot of consumer confusion around credit scores. And since FICO scores are used in 90% of lending decisions, there was an opportunity to really educate, engage, and empower consumers to take control of their credit and improve their credit scores by partnering with financial institutions to share the FICO scores they were already using with their customers.

Darlene Goins:

So I created the FICO score open access program, which included not only the score but the top score reasons, explanations, tips and education that would do just that and I couldn't have imagined changing the credit score landscape so dramatically at the time, but now through FICA score, open access, over a hundred million consumers are empowered through regular access to their FICO scores and it was through that work that I found my true passion for empowering people in particular marginalized individuals and communities with tools and resources and products and services to improve their financial stability and health.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Wow, that's incredible. How many people you've been able to affect and all learning it. I think as we go along the way, I would say even Rebecca and myself have a very windy path of how we've ended up where we are and I hopefully those that are listening that are wanting to get into this space or maybe don't know what space they get into, just know that that road sometimes it's very windy, but you'll end up when you find your passion, just loving what you do. So thank you, Darlene. We have another question for you. Right now we're facing a situation that has created unprecedented disruption throughout the world. Tell us a little bit more about the Wells Fargo foundation and how you are responding to the covert 19 pandemic.

Darlene Goins:

This has been an unprecedented pandemic with affects that no one could have predicted. You know, many have lost their jobs and don't know where their next paycheck will come from. And vulnerable populations are at risk of facing even greater financial hardships in the coming months. So Wells Fargo has been working on many fronts to respond and support employees, customers and communities like other financial institutions. We're offering mortgage payment relief, fee waivers and payment deferrals for credit cards, auto loans, small business and personal loans. And in addition, fairly early in the crisis, the Wells Fargo foundation made the decision to redirect our budget and accelerate $175 million in grants to address public health needs, small business housing and financial stability. A significant portion of our budget is at the local level serving the immediate needs of communities, including food, housing, and other emergency needs. And we are bringing relief to nonprofits.

Darlene Goins:

Many were at risk of closing their doors and they bring much needed services and jobs to underserved communities and housing. Our focus has been on helping renters and homeowners stay in their homes through foreclosure prevention assistance, rental assistance and financial counseling. As you can imagine, having a safe and stable home is sort of a requirement when you're being asked to shelter at home. So we have a lot of focus there. Our small business philanthropy has been focused on getting relief to self employed and small business owners through nonprofit lenders and CDFI who serve diverse entrepreneurs. And then in my world and financial health philanthropy, we've been focused on enlisting national nonprofits like AFCPE with the capacity and infrastructure to quickly shift from in person to virtual service delivery, particularly with financial counseling and coaching. And then we're also working with nonprofits to offer emergency resources for people who need cash in hand for rent, food, utilities, and other basic needs and who need help building credit and savings and reducing debt.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

I want to ask a couple of additional questions in relation to what you just mentioned. First off, I've heard many consumers and even some service providers say, I know there's relief out there for me, but how do I get it? So at Wells Fargo, how do you actually get the services that are needed as Wells Fargo call them? Do they need a call? How does that work?

Darlene Goins:

It's best for them to call Wells Fargo and we apologize for any long wait times. As you can imagine, there are so many customers that are in need, but um, please call our customer service numbers and ask for what relief may be available to you. Um, we have been highly, highly flexible in terms of meeting the needs of our customers.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

The second question that I really want to get in with you today is regarding this partnership with AFC PE. Tell us a little bit more about that and how our members can help or those that are wanting those services, how they can become a part of it.

Darlene Goins:

The situation is changing rapidly and many people are understandably under a lot of stress and confused by the vast array of public resources for which they may be available and more importantly, how to access them. And so, you know, I described a little bit about what Wells Fargo is doing for our customers and we are an important partner for people but financial counselors and coaches can really help people navigate through this crisis in a very personal way. And so when we think about highly skilled and highly trained financial counselors and coaches, we really think about AFC PE. And so it was just sort of a no brainer for us to reach out to AFC PE and see how this organization could be a part of our rapid philanthropic response to help support struggling consumers.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

That's great. And we want to let you know too, if you're interested in either helping or receiving the help to go to our AFCPE website and we will put the information about that in the show notes as well so that you can get help or be a part of the action and receiving that help. Darlene, tell me what you've learned from your work in philanthropy and with grantees in terms of what support is needed most at this time.

Darlene Goins:

We are hearing that cash in hand is so critical right now, particularly for those people who have lost jobs or income or have seen an uptick in expenses and who do not have enough emergency savings to pay for housing, food, and other daily necessities. And then we're hearing that those hardest hit by this crisis include communities of color who often lack liquid assets. In fact, racial gaps in liquid assets are twice as large as gaps in take home income for blacks and Hispanics. Um, also people who are unbanked or underbanked who have no bank account or bank account information on file with the IRS to quickly relieve their stimulus payment. People with disabilities is another population they may have lost personal assistant services and jobs and they may worry about how stimulus checks might impact means tested public benefits eligibility, immigrant families who don't have the luxuries of paid sick leave, unemployment benefits or social safety net protections to help them weather the storm. We've got seniors, another vulnerable population who are already aging into financial insecurity due to longer lifespans, the disappearance of defined benefit and very low retirement savings. And then the last I'd like to highlight are people who are dependent on third party tax preparers like Vita services that are now closed. And given that cash in hand is so important, if people can get access to their tax refunds, that can go a long way. And so people that are dependent on those third party tax preparers are unable to file and claim their tax refunds.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

You have just explained what a need there is right now in this industry and there couldn't be a better time for professionals to step up to the plate and really be a part of this because there are so many people out there with varying needs that you just described. Thank you so much, Darlene, for all that you're doing.

Rebecca Wiggins:

Yeah, and I just have a couple of questions for you as I'm listening. I first I just have to say, Darlene, how I've so appreciated in our time together in our partnership, your focus on particularly on serving vulnerable and marginalized communities. And as you said, I think it really rings true to the people in our network because that's very much their passion as well. And I'm wondering just, you know, thinking about your background with FICO and now with Wells Fargo, how you see AFC PE professionals best supporting the industry and even more in particular in solving some of these challenges like the wealth gap right now.

Darlene Goins:

First again, thank you to all the AFCPE financial professionals who are volunteering during coven. We've heard estimates that 7 million people will need some sort of financial counseling to avoid bankruptcy as a result of COVID. So the support you are providing is critical. So as I think about how AFCPE professionals can best support consumers right now, you know, over the coming weeks and months, many people are going to be forced to make very complex trade off decisions when it comes to how they manage their finances. In the short term, it could be, you know, do I take advantage of this moratorium on utilities for 90 days and use that money to pay for something else. And in the longer term, how will the federal stimulus impact my earned income tax credit next year? Or if I'm on unemployment, unemployment is not earned income. So how is that going to impact EITC?

Darlene Goins:

So AFCPE professionals are really well equipped to help struggling individuals assess their financial situation, make these types of complex trade off decisions, get emergency help and referrals for groceries and utilities and other household expenses, negotiate with creditors and landlords. And in the coming months hopefully start thinking about how to create plans for. And I would say also as more financial activities shifts online, we hope that financial counselors will also help us remind people to make sure that they're keeping their personal information safe. Unfortunately, there has been a rise in fraud and identity theft as criminals are trying to catch vulnerable people off guard. So fishing through emails and texts is one of the most common techniques used to get personal information and passwords. And you know, we just, we'd love for financial professionals to remind people not to open strange emails or attachments and to set strong passwords and check their accounts and credit reports regularly for fraud and immediately report anything that doesn't look right.

Rebecca Wiggins:

That's really helpful. Good. Good reminders on that. And one thing is you're talking about too, I think it's important for, you know, we're thinking about this sort of the, the response right now to all of this and people are just in dire straits and trying to figure out what's going on and how to move forward. But also that our partnership in this effort for the free financial counseling and coaching is also an opportunity I think for families and individuals to think about how to get ahead. So even if it hasn't hit them as hard in terms of, you know, job loss or their income or their wealth or anything like that, that they really need help with that they really need to start thinking about these types of activities, these unexpected events that happen and how can we be in the best possible financial situation for down the road as well. So even if you're not in dire straits at the moment as a result of Covid-19 to use this opportunity to get with qualified professionals who can help you plan for the future. Another question I had for you too was just again, kind of given your perspective in the field as we're seeing the unemployment rates are reaching the great depression levels, what trends or changes to the field do you expect to see in the near future?

Darlene Goins:

This pandemic has brought broad financial challenges into focus and I think it's presented an opportunity for us as a society to really reimagine our systems and policies and products as we look towards the recovery. So for example, the importance of cash in hand to pay for basic necessities and trusting that people will use it wisely is something that many have advocated for in the past as a means to help people in poverty. However, there are these false narratives about people living in poverty that have made it difficult to gain traction on that concept. So now that the pandemic has forced a broad reaching federal stimulus payment to tens of millions of households without telling them how to spend the money and without a lot of hoops to jump through to get it. I'm thinking that this might create an opportunity for discussions about how direct cash assistance might be a critical part of our social safety net beyond the crisis.

Darlene Goins:

We, you mentioned unemployment insurance. Um, I think that in some places some people are finding that it's really challenging to get access to unemployment insurance benefits and with over 30 million jobless claims and counting, bringing unemployment insurance to the forefront, perhaps there's an opportunity to enact policy changes in laws that improve unemployment insurance. So depending on the depth and length of the economic impact, I think beyond the immediate responses by the government, philanthropists and others, there are longer term products, systemic and policy changes that will likely be needed to provide pathways to economic recovery for all.

Rebecca Wiggins:

That's so great. I love what you're saying about sort of taking this as an opportunity. I think we all always say, I wish we could hit pause, right and get time back or um, you know, get time back in our schedules and in our lives. But I think this is such a good opportunity. We have this great pause to, to reimagine and really do the hard work of the things that we talk about doing. So I love that. I, I think that's, that's really inspirational. So at the end of each interview we like to get the guests Two Cents or the biggest takeaways that you want for our listeners. And so I'm wondering if you can share with us your piece of advice for our financial professionals as they are helping clients navigate this difficult time.

Darlene Goins:

Well, we don't know how long social distancing we'll keep counseling and coaching sessions virtual instead of in person. And trust, as you know, is so important for a successful relationship. So I would say my 2 cents is just a recommendation for AFCPE professionals to really think about ways to build that trust, particularly given the high levels of anxiety and uncertainty people are facing right now and share those ideas with each other about how to really form that trust. That's so foundational to client success.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Absolutely. I think you've hit the nail on the head that it's trust that allows people to really warm up to you and tell you what struggles they're really having at this time. And without that information you really don't know how you can help. So Darlene, in closing, we want to thank you so much for helping us recognize the great need that's out there for so many various populations of society. You've given us very tangible ways for us to serve as service providers and reach out and help so many people who are in vulnerable and difficult situations. Right now. We really hope this time continues to be a time to reach out to one another in our communities and provide much needed financial support for so many. Thank you for all ideas and thanks for

Rebecca Wiggins:

coming on the show today. Thanks so much. It was a pleasure. So in a time where it's easy to feel disconnected, I think the power of community is more important than ever. As a financial professional, you're navigating new information, new policies, and for many this is a new way of serving your clients. So I'm really excited to share that AFCPE recently launched a new member discussion platform, AFCPE connected community. This online community is our way of bringing you closer together. Even when in proximity we're far apart. We hope you'll use this platform to share new ideas and best practices, any issues that you're facing and of course the resources that have been most valuable to you. We want this to be a place where you expand your network and help lift each other up, advance your work and your career and your goals. So embracing technology and leaning on the power of community is something that we're really trying to focus on.

Rebecca Wiggins:

If there's one silver lining in all of this, it's that in the show notes we're going to have the link to the community and we hope that you get on and explore and connect with one another. As Darlene said, we really need each other. We need to connect and share what's going on and how best we can serve the people that need us most right now. Thanks so much for listening today. Please make sure you subscribe to our biweekly podcast available on many of the channels you get your podcasts from, including Google play, Apple podcast, and iTunes. We always want to hear your perspective and if you want to share with us, go to the AFCPE website to tell us more about your thoughts. And I did. You can also follow us at AFCPE on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to join in the conversation. Tell us what you think. Using hashtag real money, real experts. We can't wait to hear from you.