The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued a notice and request for comment on the Financial Well-Being National Survey. The CFPB is asking for comments on
(a) Whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Bureau, including whether the information will have practical utility; (b) The accuracy of the Bureau’s estimate of the burden of the collection of information, including the validity of the methods and the assumptions used; (c) Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. (81 F.R.13778)
The first question is of great importance and it is great that the CFPB is asking it. As I have frequently noted, financial education efforts have not been all that successful. Moreover, efforts to improve financial literacy have often had perverse results.
My first instinct is that there is no harm in conducting the Financial Well-Being National Survey. It asks questions such as “How would you assess your overall financial knowledge?” and “How confident are you that the way you are managing money today is getting you to the results you want?” (5)
The key question that remains, however, is will the answers to such questions actually help shape consumer protection policy in a productive way? The CFPB should be sure that the answer to that question is yes before proceeding with the Survey.
Comments are due soon, on April 14th. Get crackin’!