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Actively improving financial wellness for consumers ensures relevance for financial institutions

Financial institutions of all sizes are struggling to create more stickiness with their customers, especially with younger demographics who are less brand loyal and more likely to work with virtual financial institutions or emerging fintechs for their banking needs. While traditionally financial institutions haven’t always played a leading role in financial education and wellness, banks are now increasingly providing ways to help their customers with budgeting and personal financial management. One area of opportunity is for banks to become more active participants in supporting their customers’ financial health initiatives and helping customers realize immediate savings on monthly expenses provides a meaningful place to start.

Increasingly, as consumers begin to recognize that they are often overpaying on their monthly bills – and as many as 80 percent of consumers in the U.S. are – they struggle to find ways to remedy this in an efficient manner. These consumers stand to benefit from substantial savings by renegotiating routine services and monthly bills, cancelling recurring subscriptions or monitoring outages and added fees. The challenge lies in the fact that, like all of us, they are busy and cannot commit the time required to effectively review their expenses line-by-line and navigate their biller contracts, processes and pricing in order to uncover and activate those significant saving opportunities.

There is ample data to support the notion that financial stress and money concerns are top-of-mind for many households nationwide. In fact, a Bankrate survey found that approximately half of U.S. adults – from Boomers to Gen Z – are worried and losing sleep at the thought of saving enough for retirement, everyday bills and expenses, paying off debt, healthcare costs and more.

Financial institutions are uniquely positioned to help consumers improve their financial journey by leveraging what they already possess: customer information, transaction data and an established level of trust. Helping customers to lower monthly bills is a direct, powerful first step as many have plenty of room for negotiation, especially considering these services individually face healthy competition in the market. Bills such as cable, internet, phone, alarms, and gym memberships are all usually negotiable, but consumers typically are not aware of this or lack the time to direct toward re-negotiating their existing bills.

Simply canceling unwanted subscriptions can save consumers considerable amounts each month. Most consumers have, at some point, taken advantage of the “free” trial offer. Maybe there’s a movie or a sports event on a streaming service that isn’t currently part of the consumer’s regular monthly bills, but there’s usually an important accompanying line of small print: sign up for our free trial for 14 days and get unlimited access to your favorite shows and movies. The consumer enters their information, watches the movie and enjoys the unlimited access, but after 14 days, they fail to officially cancel the service, meaning they now have another reoccurring subscription to pay for each month. Financial institutions that implement a way for the consumer to easily unsubscribe with the click of a button – all within their banking app – increase customer engagement while also saving the customer time and money.

Additionally, consumers are often charged fees or pay for services during service outages. By providing a solution that monitors and negotiates credits or refunds when service outages inevitably occur, when overages are billed or services go unused, institutions are actively elevating their customer relationships by offering not only an analysis of customer transactions, but an activation step to create real cost-savings on the customer’s behalf.

With the introduction of new technologies and a host of digital entrants into the retail banking industry, today’s market is more competitive than ever and as consumers shift more toward a digital-first approach to banking, financial institutions are challenged to find meaningful ways to connect with them and nurture the all-important bank-customer relationship. Those banks that commit to combining creativity, practicality and meaningful action as true partners in consumers’ financial wellness stand to differentiate themselves and continue to thrive.

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Steven McKean is the co-founder of ApexEdge, a partner-enablement platform that offers monthly bill and subscription management solutions to support the financial health of consumers. For more information, visit www.apexedge.com.

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