California Department of Financial Institutions highlights the Importance of Financial Literacy Initiatives by State-Chartered Institutions

May 29, 2001

SACRAMENTO – Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) Commissioner Donald R. Meyer today highlighted the importance of financial literacy activities by state-chartered financial institutions. Financial literacy programs have been effective in enhancing consumer financial skills and extending the services and products available to underserved communities. Small business owners often lack access or information concerning available financial resources.

“Access to information on business checking accounts, credit lines, loans, capital leases and financial management services can be critical to the success of our small business community,” stated Commissioner Meyer. “Small businesses are often concerned with financing and interest rates; cash flow and expansion,” added Meyer.

Small businesses are often loan customers and prime candidates for other traditional banking products. Financial institutions who provide technical assistance programs to potential loan applicants will see community improvement in the areas of job creation and continued economic development and are rewarded with new customers who are better prepared and more likely to succeed.

DFI is currently involved in a small business outreach program and will participate in the observance of California Small Business Day on May 30. A new section on the Department’s Web site will provide information targeted to California’s small businesses to help them start up and succeed. This is part of an outreach program involving the 13 departments under the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, including the Department of Corporations, Caltrans, DMV, and the Highway Patrol.

Basic financial services, credit management and repair programs, homeownership counseling, consumer awareness are some of the other types of programs that can be offered to strengthen the community. “A good way to start up a financial literacy program is to partner with community non-profit organizations and/or government agencies,” added Meyer.

DFI is responsible for regulating the safety and soundness of California’s state-chartered financial institutions, including state-licensed banks, state-licensed savings and loans, trust companies, state-licensed offices of foreign banks, issuers of travelers checks and payment instruments (money orders), transmitters of money abroad, state-licensed credit unions, and state-licensed industrial banks. DFI reports to Secretary Maria Contreras-Sweet of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency and Governor Gray Davis.