Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Bank's Traveling Bus Touts Financial Literacy

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Bank's Traveling Bus Touts Financial Literacy

Article excerpt

Fifth Third Bank representatives board the e-bus to bring free help to people who want to improve their financial literacy and make informed decisions.

Bank employees offer advice and provide credit reports, loan applications and homeownership assistance in both English and Spanish.

"Every bank has a responsibility. We make sure Fifth Third Bank offers services for all income levels; that's why we have the e- bus," Jadira Hoptry, vice president of Community Affairs for Southwest Florida, said.

In the area twice yearly, and serving about 150 people on each visit, the e-bus aims to make a difference in the way people understand finances and manage money, providing ways to financial empowerment, Hoptry said.

"From our perspective, we want to be able to serve," regional manager Michael McCarthy said.

Sitting at one of several computers on the e-bus during a recent visit, bank manager Beth Ward went over information with Perselphone E. Johnson of Manatee County.

"I'm here to get information, a lot of information," Johnson said.

Financial literacy means understanding the language of finance as well as the implications of financial decisions. Fifth Third representatives also visit businesses.

Extending the service to community, in association with Manatee County School District, the bank recently started teaching classes at high schools to educate students, teachers and, soon, parents. Topics include disputing a credit report, reading credit card applications, understanding student loans and the loan process.

In teaching financial literacy, McCarthy said he found some common denominators.

"Most people don't know how to budget or what is involved in a credit report," he said.

Because people have different requirements of what they need from a bank, Fifth Third Bank counsels e-bus visitors about certificates of deposit, annuities, life insurance and investments, such as T1 bonds.

Knowing that many people are intimidated by banks and the idea of banking, the e-bus experience helps people feel more comfortable, Haptry said.

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