FinSvcsResearch
Consumer Financial Services, Asset-Building & Savings, Research Design
Research Report | August 2012

Financial Services Research: Standard Measures and Lessons from the Field

Jess Dorrance, Leah M. Gjertson, Kim Manturuk, Belinda Reyes, Rebecca Rouse

This report draws on the expertise of leading researchers in financial services to identify common measures and methods for evaluating innovations in financial services and products that will enable cross-program comparisons of outcomes and mediating factors.

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Introduction

Rapidly emerging technologies coupled with new economic realities for both consumers and providers have created an environment in the financial services marketplace which is conducive to innovative products and services. This environment of innovation is also an opportunity for researchers to make meaningful advances in what we know about what drives consumer financial decisions, how people use new services, and what products work best for different groups.

In order for this research to be meaningful, it is crucial that scholars in the field identify optimal measures and methods. This report draws on the expertise of leading researchers in financial services to identify key concepts, measures, outcomes, and methods in this area. Adopting common approaches whenever possible will allow for cross‐program comparisons and allow researchers examining a wide range of programs to have meaningful conversations. Common methods and measures can also take financial services research from largely program evaluation‐oriented to a more theoretically‐oriented field of research with high‐level policy implications.

In this report, we focus primarily on common measures which are potentially applicable across all types of financial services research. These measures are divided in to two broad categories: mediating factors, and common outcomes. We also present outcomes specific to four different program areas: reducing (problem) debt, improving credit, asset building, and financial capacity. Most financial services and products address one or more of these broad areas, so researchers can select the appropriate outcomes based on the topic. Finally, we present some best practices for financial services innovators and researchers.

The UNC Center for Community Capital conducts research and policy analysis on ways to make financial services work better for more people and communities.

 

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