08/19/2016 - FINRA


The FINRA Investor Education Foundation provides underserved Americans with the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary for financial success throughout life. We envision a society characterized by universal financial capability.

FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is the largest independent regulator of securities firms doing business with the public in the United States. Our core mission is to pursue investor protection and market integrity, and we carry it out by overseeing virtually every aspect of the securities industry. We oversee 3,907 brokerage firms with 638,851 registered securities representatives.


The FINRA Foundation supports and undertakes research and educational projects to protect investors and improve financial capability in the United States.

Our grants build community capacity to provide reliable, readily available financial education for all who need it. FINRA Foundation grants also enable researchers to explore investor behavior and develop practical ways to avoid costly mistakes and prepare for the future. You can learn more about our funding opportunities and the projects supported by our grants at FINRAFoundation.org.

The FINRA Foundation operates a leading national initiative to help Americans understand and avoid financial fraud, as well as a global effort to enable military members to make prudent saving and investing decisions for themselves and their families. You can learn more about these targeted initiatives at SaveAndInvest.org.

All of this work is informed by the FINRA Foundation’s National Financial Capability Study. This ongoing research effort examines key indicators of financial capability and evaluates how these indicators vary with underlying demographic, behavioral, attitudinal, and financial literacy characteristics over time. Data and analysis from the study are available at USFinancialCapability.org.  


We are looking to expand awareness of the many educational tools, training opportunities and research studies supported by the FINRA Foundation.


The FINRA Foundation released in July a new report titled Financial Capability in the United States 2016.  The report is based on data from the FINRA Foundation’s National Financial Capability Study (NCFS).  The NFCS is a large-scale, multi-year project that provides an in-depth, comprehensive understanding of financial capability and behaviors in the United States. The first study was conducted in 2009, then in 2012 and in 2015, and boasts one of the nation’s most inclusive and in-depth representations of age, race, education and gender on these topics. In addition, the data set and website (USFinancialCapability.org) allow for state-by state comparisons of financial literacy, making it valuable to policy makers interested in better understanding the level of financial capability in their states.

The study found that while Americans as a whole are feeling less financial stress, making ends meet remains a daily struggle for millions — particularly women, millennials, African-Americans, Hispanics, and those who are lacking a high school education. On a positive note, the percentage of respondents reporting no difficulty in covering monthly expenses and bills has increased from just over a third in 2009 (36 percent) to nearly half in 2015 (48 percent), and the percentage of respondents with emergency funds has increased from 35 percent in 2009 to 46 percent in 2015.  However, a more granular examination of the data reveals some groups under financial stress. 

  • More than one in five Americans (21 percent) have unpaid medical debt, and women are more likely than men to put off medical services due to cost, such as seeing a doctor, buying needed prescriptions or undergoing a medical procedure. 
  • Nearly half of respondents with a high school education or less could not come up with $2,000 in 30 days in the event of an emergency (45 percent) compared to only 18 percent for respondents with a college degree. 
  • Twenty-nine percent of 18 to 34-year olds with a mortgage have been late with a mortgage payment, compared with 7 percent for the 55+ age group.
  • Hispanics and African-Americans are much more likely to use high-cost forms of borrowing like pawn shops and payday loans compared to whites—39 percent for African-Americans, 34 percent for Hispanics and 21 percent for whites; and

More information about the NFCS, including the survey’s full data set, methodology and questionnaires are available at USFinancialCapability.org.

Gary Mottola
FINRA Investor Education Foundation
1735 K Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20006-1506
Phone: (202) 728-8351
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