The Public Relations Power Bond Producers Gain by Promoting Financial Literacy
This is the second in a three-part series on how NASBP bond producers are uniquely situated to ensure success and growth for small contractors.
There is a vast and unmet need for better financial literacy education in the United States. According to a February 2015 study by the American Psychological Association, 72 percent of Americans said they feel stressed about money “at least some of the time,” 64 percent said money is a “somewhat” or “very significant” source of stress, and 22 percent said they experienced “extreme stress” about money.
Stephen Freeman, Vice President, Surety at the NASBP Member firm of M&T Insurance Agency, Inc., said that better education in the fundamentals of personal finance management would alleviate a significant number of these worries—and that surety bond producers are uniquely positioned to advocate for such training.
“Education is a major part of what we do,” Freeman said. “We help clients and prospects learn best practices in financial and business management to help them optimize the success of their businesses. The more we can help our clients grow their businesses successfully, the more opportunities we get to write bonds.”
Freeman is the author of “Your Money Is Your Business,” a comprehensive financial literacy primer that encourages readers to become the best financial managers possible. Such resources, coupled with the knowledge surety producers already possess through professional training and experience, could be used to increase financial literacy in clients and others.
“Advocating for financial literacy classes in high schools, colleges, and adult continuing education programs can provide powerful public relations opportunities for individual NASBP members, NASBP itself, and the entire surety industry,” Freeman said. “We can promote the value of the work we do as we advocate for best practices in personal business and financial management."
Freeman said such advocacy would provide many public relations opportunities, from deepening relationships with current clients and spurring conversation with new business prospects, to influencing government officials responsible for Miller Act and Little Miller Act legislation.
It may also encourage students to consider the surety industry as a career path. “Advocacy can provide talking points that illustrate why the surety industry offers one of the best business educations available and offers such satisfying careers,” Freeman said. “This increases the pool of desirable prospective employees, which in turn helps retain and attract employees.”
Foster Economic Vibrancy
Freeman said that surety producers who promote financial literacy education also nurture economic vibrancy in the communities they serve—ultimately enhancing the bottom line. Providing people an education in the fundamentals of product financial management empowers them to become more productive employees and perhaps future entrepreneurs. “The more vibrant your local economy, the more revenue you are likely to be able to generate for your company in your community,” Freeman said. “Think about how much wealth NASBP members have helped create for employers and employees in our communities, how many businesses NASBP members have helped grow and prosper, how many client referrals we provide to other businesses in our communities (which in turn help those businesses grow profitably), and the dollar value of construction projects that we guarantee will get built on time and budget.”
Finally, Freeman suggests producers who promote financial literacy may impact economic prosperity at the voting booth. “It would help people become more financially savvy voters (that is, understanding financial statements and budgets) who make financially prudent voting decisions (about taxes they pay and services they get in return, that is, infrastructure work for us to bond) that contribute to the vibrancy of the local economy,” he said.
At the end of the day, the tenet underlying all of these goals is financial literacy.
For more information on how NASBP bond producers can help clients increase their financial smarts to ensure success, check out part one of this three-part series, “An Invaluable Partnership: How NASBP Bond Producers Help Ensure Success and Growth for Small Contractors.”
Read the third NASBP Blog on this topic.
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