When there is a WILL, there is a way

When there is a WILL, there is a way

I am feeling energized, inspired and hopeful as I begin this week. You see, last week I attended the Financial Health Network Members Summit meeting.  The energy was palpable and as someone who has spent the last 30 years working in the financial services and community development field, it was thrilling to be surrounded by so many like-minded people and companies that are turning what was once just an idea of “financial health” into tangible action and dare I say an industry?!  There is so much going on and so many different ideas, models, strategies, products and services that are all geared towards helping people become financially healthy. 

AARP Foundation kicked off the Summit sharing the work that they are doing to ensure income security for older Americans because 83 percent of older Americans have financial issues. I met companies like Gerry, that are looking to help families burdened by the costs of long term care and finding the appropriate and affordable solution for their loved ones; ChangEd who is focused on helping those experiencing financial challenges due to excessive student loan debt; MedPut, that is helping people who find themselves with no way to pay for expensive and unexpected medical care costs; Salary Finance, that is helping employees get loans from their employers to help with short-term cash flow issues. We heard from behavioral scientist Matt Wallaert who’s recent book Start at the End implores us to examine the behavior we are trying to change and start from there. I also saw innovation and leadership from traditional market players like U.S. Bank who has developed a small dollar loan product (Simple Loan) that is helping meet the needs of their customers who on average borrow $400 to meet an unexpected expense. They are showing us that this can be achieved without exorbitant fees or interest rates.  

When people want to get things done, they do.  And when products serve a real need, they get traction. 

One thing is clear to me–curing the financial health of millions of strapped Americans is a solvable problem. We have the technology, the people, and the resources to help people become financially healthy. As the old saying goes, “when there is a will, there is a way.”

This is this difference I feel. The collective will is here.

Rochelle Nawrocki Gorey

Co-Founder & CEO, SpringFour Inc.

Industry Recognition

                 

 

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Our Data is the Difference Part II: A Recipe for Data Integrity

Our Data is the Difference Part II: A Recipe for Data Integrity

I’m an amateur baker, which means I have way too many ingredients in my pantry and probably too many cookbooks. When I find a recipe that I like, I just can’t resist making it again and again until it’s perfect (and since it’s dessert my family doesn’t complain). I like to share my recipes with anyone who is interested because I believe that we can all benefit from a good meal.

I’m also a financial technology professional and the VP of Data Integrity at SpringFour. SpringFour’s award winning solutions inspire me to work everyday to ensure that the resources our customers access are the very best possible. So in the spirit of recipe sharing, I’m going to outline the four key ingredients that make up SpringFour’s data integrity strategy and insure that we are delivering the best data possible to our clients. 

It’s no secret that we like the number four. SpringFour’s FOUR guiding principles: connections, impact, integrity and savings are informed by our mission to connect consumers to the financial health resources they need. Our executive team of FOUR committed go-getters and do-gooders, has been recognized by our partners and the industry, including large financial institutions and innovative FinTechs, for excellent relationship management, forward thinking, commitment and innovation in the field of financial health.

So what’s the winning recipe?

Step 1:  Professionally Vetted

In the age of AI and advanced technology many people are surprised to learn that SpringFour resources are updated manually. Each listing is reviewed by a trained human eye at least 3 times before being seen by a consumer. 

Web scraping, the process of importing information from a website into your own files or spreadsheets, is used by many other referral systems as the source of the information they provide to their customers. We don’t do it, ever. Ethical concerns aside, those of us that work with data in the realm of public policy know that there is no perfect tool for evaluating the complexity of a nonprofit and government program offering. A computer can not look at a list of services or even a list of phone numbers and decide which would be the most useful to a person struggling with a number of financial challenges.   

Instead, we rely on the eyes and experience of talented people who review each resource for suitability and accuracy. Our Resource Integrity Team includes quality control specialists and research analysts with years of experience in housing, community development, social services, community health, education, and small business development. Our team of nonprofit and business professionals have graduate degrees, serve on nonprofit boards, and volunteer in their community. 

Our passionate team is motivated by the impact their meticulous work has on hundreds of thousands of people who receive SpringFour referrals each year. 

“It’s amazing to work for a fintech company that is focused on a mission to help those that are less fortunate. Through the training process I learned about the sheer number of resources that SpringFour provides to those that are down on their luck. Everything from utility assistance, to immigration support, to paying for medication.  And there are numerous resources across several categories in every state. Each listing provides all of the information you need to make a call or visit a location to take advantage of those services. It really is a game changer and I’m so excited to be a part of the team.”

Jessica Williams, Resource Integrity Specialist,  SpringFour

Step 2: Curated

Not only is our information vetted but it is also heavily curated. According to the National Center of Charitable Statistics, there are 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the U.S. In New York City alone there are close to 100,000 nonprofit agencies, meaning it would take a New Yorker about 30 years to call every agency to find help. 

People in financial crisis are already overwhelmed. A survey last year found that 85% of Americans are stressed about money. For those that turn to the internet for help, the sheer amount of information can result in a feeling of powerlessness and confusion. A person searching Google for “help with debt” will see 500 million results, many of which are unscrupulous actors that may wish to take advantage of a desperate situation. 

Similarly, call center agents and counselors looking to help their customers don’t have the extra time it takes to sift through most referral websites. Agents that are juggling back-to-back calls, pulling up financial information and listening to customer concerns, need to find relevant information that can be reviewed and delivered in a matter of seconds. 

Our goal at SpringFour is not to list everything available, but to list the very best resources available at the local and national level, for each particular financial challenge. 

Step 3: Unbiased

Our revenue model allows our data integrity team to be completely unbiased in their work. Other applications in the hands of consumers charge a “referral fee” to organizations and companies who wish to be listed or earn affiliate fees for the products or services that are “recommended”. SpringFour never charges the organizations listed in our database or accepts any kind of self-reported information. Any information that comes through our doors is always vetted and evaluated by our professional data team. 

“It’s great to have a service like this that provides unbiased referrals to non-profit and government services because we never have to question the authenticity of the information we’re passing on to our clients in need”.

-Non-profit Counselor

Step 4: Quality

The talent of our professional data team combined with our processes for vetting and curating contributes to a resource quality that is unmatched in our industry. The protocols for updating our proprietary database meets or exceeds Information & Referral (211) Quality Assurance StandardsOur own quality standards are outlined and reviewed bi-annually. 

We’ve been perfecting this strategy since 2005 to bring our users and their customers resources they can trust.  

So if you’ve ever tasted a perfectly crafted tart or pie crust (here’s my favorite recipe by the way), you’ve benefited from a pastry chef who knows the benefit of following a strict process and taking the extra time to get it right. I believe we should expect the same from our data, especially when people’s financial health is at risk. 

Are you hungry for trusted resources? Want to find out more about how you can leverage our vetted and curated quality resources and easy-to-use platform to help your customers? Get in touch

 

Cassandra Compton

Vice President, Data Integrity & User Experience, SpringFour Inc.

Industry Recognition

                 

 

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Our Data is the Difference Part I: Depth of Coverage

Our Data is the Difference Part I: Depth of Coverage

Over the weekend, my niece who recently graduated from college was asking for my advice about doing some community service. She received a grant that would allow her to work anywhere in the country, so she asked me “Where do people need the most help?”. Should she go to a rural impoverished area? Big city facing gentrification? Southern state? Disaster prone area? As the VP of Data Integrity at SpringFour, I am often asked how we decide where to offer financial health resources. 

While the economy and the job market have boomed in the post-financial crisis period, Americans living in “distressed” zip codes are struggling to find stability. These zip codes are increasingly rural and suffer from low job creation and crippling levels of student debt. 

But while high income areas in Coastal and Northern cities may seem ideal, states experiencing the most economic boom are also the communities with the highest numbers of people who are living paycheck to paycheck. They are facing housing shortages and an affordability crisis that has led to historic numbers of working families that can’t afford basic needs and levels of homelessness that remain stubbornly high despite economic growth. Nationwide middle class people are falling deeper into debt just to afford a middle class lifestyle.

So the answer is; people need the most help everywhere. That’s a pretty grim picture to paint for a young person looking to make an impact on her own. But it also gets to the heart of our mission at SpringFour, the simplicity and accessibility of the products we offer, and how we approach building our proprietary database of financial health resources. We understand that serving America’s diversity means investing our research and development efforts all over the map. Our annual growth plan considers a variety of factors including population size, community needs, and market availability. 

Nationwide coverage means that we provide the best curated and vetted financial health resources to as many people as possible, and we work every day to grow that number. 

That’s why we are pleased to announce that SpringFour offers full coverage in 475 cities in 175 Metro Areas. If resources are not available in a rural zip code, we offer statewide and national resources that can help people by phone or online. No matter where a person lives, we want them to be able to find help through SpringFour. 

 

 

Don’t see your service area on the coverage map? We work with our subscribers to add resources where their customers need them most

The best thing about our work at SpringFour is that we aren’t doing this on our own. We work with dozens of companies and nonprofits to provide real impact with over 1 million financial health referrals made annually. Our subscribers understand that it’s more important than ever to have a presence in as many communities as possible, not only because it helps their bottom line, but because underbanked communities and the people who call these neighborhoods home deserve access to transparent lending products, asset development tools, and ways to save. 

If you’d like information about how SpringFour is helping leading Financial Institutions, FinTechs, and Nonprofits see results nationwide let us know. We’d love to chat

Cassandra Compton

Vice President, Data Integrity & User Experience, SpringFour Inc.

Industry Recognition

                 

 

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For all inquiries:
866-732-2246

Chicago Office at 1871
222 Merchandise Mart Plaza Floor 12

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