Magazine article American Banker

In Brief

Magazine article American Banker

In Brief

Article excerpt

FIRSTHAND KNOWLEDGE OF DISTRUST OF BANKS

As a Who's Who of Texas bankers walked by her booth last week at the Texas Bankers Association's annual conference in Grapevine, Leilani Lim explained why her new role as the financial education coordinator for the state Banking Department is a perfect fit.

Ms. Lim, 29, grew up in San Miguel, Mexico. In 1985 her parents lost everything when the peso collapsed. "They have their story about going to the bank and their money not being there," she said.

From that moment until years later -- years after she studied at the University of Nevada, Reno -- Ms. Lim existed in a cash-only culture. She believes that her experience gives her the credibility to help persuade Hispanics in Texas, many of whom have a deep distrust of financial institutions, to become part of the financial mainstream.

Kurt Purdom, the department's director of strategic support, said banks are likely to benefit from the initiative because better-educated people are more likely to become a bank customers.

The Banking Department created Ms. Lim's job in February. (She had in the past worked in its special audit division.) Her role is still being defined, but she said her goal is to make all Texans, not just Hispanics, more financially savvy. In addition to English and Spanish she speaks the Filipino language Tagalog.

She has been working with federal, state, local and nonprofit groups to develop a program, she said, and her office will probably begin offering training to banks next year on how to educate the unbanked.

Recently she has been visiting banks to see what strategies they are using, which banks need help, and how she can provide it. She plans to work with national banks as well as the state banks her department oversees.

A financial-education section has been added to the department's Web site, www. …

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