Financial education is a commitment banks make to serve their communities. But the U.S. government’s historic financial stimulus measures, which will impact every American amid the coronavirus, are making financial education more important than ever.
Banks should consider it their duty to support their customers’ financial health by providing accurate, timely, and useful information. For customers, this means they have a reliable source to tell them what they need to know. For banks, it offers the opportunity to deliver on their values and build relationships. By serving as trusted sources of information in the short term, banks can form deep connections with customers and communities that will last.
How to Distribute Important Information to Your Customers
During this time of social distancing, the best way for banks to share information is through social media. Social is always a useful tool for reaching customers, but when employees can’t communicate with people in person, it’s vital. Through social media, you can quickly and effectively distribute relevant information to your followers in two ways:
- Curating relevant content: Your social media team can find helpful news articles from trusted outlets and share links to content and commentary with your bank’s followers. They should be prepared to engage with customers in the comments sections of these posts.
- Creating original messaging: Teams can also create original content in the form of blog posts, live Q&As, and helpful videos. Creating your own material allows your teams to provide localized context or audience-specific explanations around timely financial news and how that news will impact individuals and communities.
5 Topics Your Bank Should Cover Now
There’s a lot going on in our current financial climate. It can be overwhelming and hard to understand for the average banking customer. Help your customers out by sharing the most important things to know and explaining how recent updates will affect them. Here’s what you should be talking about on social media today:
1. Stimulus Checks
Most people have probably heard about the federal relief bill, or the CARES Act, part of which involves direct payments to Americans to lessen financial strain during the pandemic. What people are wondering now is when they’ll see this money.
There are no certain answers yet, but for people whose direct deposit information is already on file (if they had their tax refunds deposited directly into their accounts, for instance), payments are expected to go out within three weeks. Those who don’t have their information already on file will need to supply their details in a web portal that’s not yet been established. Right now, we don’t know how long these checks could take to reach citizens.
Banks should be keeping customers updated on timing via social media and share instructions on how to access the stimulus money once it is distributed.2. Unemployment Insurance
As another part of the government’s stimulus bill, unemployment benefits have been historically expanded. On top of state unemployment benefits, unemployed citizens can receive an extra $600 per week from the federal government for four months. And more people than ever qualify — including freelancers, gig economy workers, and independent contractors.
If people become unemployed, they’ll need to know what steps to take next. Share information about who’s eligible, what they need to do to get these benefits, and how much they can expect to receive.3. Small Business Support
Small businesses have particularly tight connections with community banks, and they’ll be looking for guidance during this uncertain time. It’s imperative that banks proactively communicate with business owners in their communities about how they can find relief.
Around $377 billion of the federal aid package is dedicated to small businesses. Businesses of fewer than 500 employees may be eligible for financing options aimed at helping them keep operations running and workers on their payrolls. The Paycheck Protection Program, for example, offers loan forgiveness to cover payroll expenses through June 30, 2020.
If your bank is an SBA 7(a) lender, let small business owners in your community know when and how they can come to you to apply for the program. Given current program delays, it is especially important for banks to be proactively communicating with customers.4. Deferred Loan Payments
As customers figure out how to budget in their new realities after potentially lost or lowered income, they’ll be looking for information on how to manage their loans and lines of credit. Many banks are offering deferment on various lending products, such as mortgage loans. If you’re one of them, you’ll want to get that information in front of your clients and prospects.
You can also share information about deferred student loan payments. The stimulus bill will pause federal student loan payments without any penalties over the next six months. Interest won’t build up over this time and collection on debts that have defaulted will be paused as well. Take the opportunity to deliver this good news to your customers in social.
Federal tax-filing deadlines have been pushed from April 15 to July 15 to give people some leeway for getting their taxes filed. States may require that people file their taxes at a different time, however. Share information about when people in your state will need to file.
People may also be wondering what to do if they’re not required to file taxes. Guidelines for Social Security recipients, for example, recently changed: Guidance issued by the IRS on March 30 said those who haven’t filed returns for 2018 or 2019 would need to file in order to receive stimulus checks, but as of April 1, that has been reversed. Social Security recipients can now receive stimulus money without filing returns.
Keep a watchful eye on such updates so you can ensure your customers are getting the most current and useful information. In the turmoil and chaos of COVID-19, your customers are looking for financial guidance now more than ever. Be a responsible and trusted partner by sharing the information and education they need to stay as financially healthy as possible.