Building Inclusive Financial Systems

The Aspen Institute Financial Security Program sees Building Inclusive Financial Systems as a critical strategy for the United States to maximize the financial security of all its citizens.

Around the globe, governments have established national “financial inclusion” initiatives designed to provide more people with access to the products, tools, and protections of a developed financial system. By doing so, these countries aim to improve the financial position of their most vulnerable citizens.

The United States federal government has yet to establish such a domestic initiative, despite having both a long history of supporting the financial inclusion initiatives of other countries, and a vibrant array of American organizations, academics, companies, and professionals who, collectively, comprise a robust “financial inclusion” field.

The opportunity before us is radically different than it was even ten years ago. Today – through rapid advances in technology, government agencies’ engagement in and support of responsible innovation, industry focus on quantifiable metrics around household financial outcomes, and the prospect of faster payments infrastructure – financial systems are evolving in real time. This moment provides a powerful opportunity to intentionally build the next generation of financial systems that are structurally, rather than post-hoc, inclusive. Put simply, now is the time to build the financial system of the future – for everyone.

What’s needed is a shared framework to guide innovators, regulators, and advocates collaboratively towards a common set of goals. Such a framework would leverage the knowledge base around financial inclusion to ensure that inclusion is fundamental to – rather than an afterthought of – the design of the American financial system.

When working effectively, inclusive financial systems provide all households the ability to access, properly utilize, and reap the benefits of a full suite of financial services to help build short-term stability and long-term financial security. This requires a well-functioning system of interrelated stakeholders in the public, private and social sectors providing people with safe, affordable and useful financial products and services ranging from payments to short- and long-term savings vehicles, credit, investments and insurance, while also protecting households from bad actors

Inclusive financial systems play an integral role in the financial security of American households, which in turn supports a more inclusive economy with greater shared prosperity.

FSP’s work in building inclusive financial systems has been supported by the MetLife Foundation, The Prudential Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and by the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program’s other core funders.