In order for the financial education movement to truly take off, solid proof must be established that counseling in personal finance actually does alter behavior. As it stands now, programs need backing in order to implement data collection systems; but fundraising is impeded by a lack of empirical data to support the impact of such programs.
With an eye on solving this quandary, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has issued guidelines for compiling the scientific data needed to silence nay-sayers. The regulator wants financial-education "service providers, financial institutions, policy makers, and funders" to amass "a growing body of rigorous evidence of what works." That data will then be used to promote programs and strategies that have generated proven results.
With these initial guidelines, the CFPB aims to come up with the best approach to gauging financial wellness; identify the skills and habits of financially savvy consumers; and assess existing programs and determine how to make them better.