Bryan McCullough, JP Morgan Chase Market Director of Banking for Philadelphia, discussed banking today, and while we enjoy online services, the traditional brick and mortar building is still a vital part of the community. We discussed how we use banks, to save and to plan, and how that is the start of financial wealth for an individual and later, the family. He explained the pillars of ‘financial freedom,’ the ability to save, spend and use credit. A bank account, he points out, is the way to save money – you do not have to spend your money to get access to your money as with lenders and check-cashing businesses, and automatic payment protects and creates your credit rating. He reminds us that the time to ask for advice and help is at the beginning and he emphasized the need to save, whatever amount, noting that 70% of Americans do not have the suggested $400 in reserve for emergencies.
In reference to that, he spoke about the economic inequalities that years of systemic discrimination in lending, housing and wages have created, if you are African American and single your net worth is on average, $200 to $300 dollars, versus $15,000 – $28,000 for a single white.
To address this racial divide and the other underbanked communities he notes that Chase Bank has pledged 30 billion in a ‘Path Forward’ program, with small business loans, refinancing, and other initiatives to reach the Black and Latinex communities. They are also opening new ‘Community Center’ banks in underserved neighborhoods, offering financial advice and planning through their branches, hosting ‘Chase Chats’ to answer community questions about banking and loans, give children easy ‘first accounts’ with debit cards, and offer online resources including a ‘Budget Builder’ at chase.com.