The integration of technology and traditional counseling will soon make it "E-asy" for low and moderate income San Diego residents to get expert, up-to-the minute advice on home buying and improving their financial health.
The secret is the E-asy Account, developed by Community HousingWorks (CHW) and funded by a $200,000 contribution from Citi Community Development.
The E-asy Account acts as a bridge, connecting consumer financial information aggregated by Mint.com with the data tracking systems used by financial experts at participating nonprofit organizations.
By eliminating the "paper chase" elements of gathering information, E-asy Account allows both the client and the financial coach to access real-time consumer data, including spending habits, credit and savings information. With the sophisticated tools of Mint.com plus the one-on-one support of an expert coach, E-asy Account users set realistic financial goals and stay motivated towards achieving them. CHW, meanwhile, will see staff productivity rise from 30 to 50 percent, saving thousands of staff hours yearly.
"We are proud to support E-asy Account, a technology-based platform that helps to bridge the digital and information gap between consumers, housing and financial coaches, and service providers," said Hala Farid, Deputy Director, Office of Homeownership Preservation, Citi Community Development. "We believe technology can be leveraged to increase access for more people to the tools and resources necessary to build successful financial futures. E-asy Account provides a smart and scalable solution, helping nonprofits focus on meeting the needs of clients, rather than collecting paperwork."
"This tool merges the best of both worlds - cutting edge technology and the personalized, mission-driven support of a nonprofit - to help families of limited means unlock their full potential," said Gabe del Rio, Chief Operating Officer, CHW.
For nonprofit organizations like CHW, the E-asy Account platform helps staff members become more effective guides in helping clients achieve their financial goals, while spending less time entering and re-entering the clients' self-reported or outdated information. Organizers also anticipate financial coaches will increase the time spent with clients to work towards their financial goals.
Clients interested in participating in the program setup an account with Mint.com, a free web-based application. Then, upon receiving an email invitation from their financial coach to take part in the program, they can register that profile through the E-asy Account system. This simple two-step process will save valuable time and effort typically put into requesting and gathering all the various account statements that make up a person's financial reality. E-asy Account is the name given to the portfolio of information available to clients and their counselors for counseling purposes. It does not involve cash deposits to Citibank or any other financial institution.
"This demonstration of technology that brings ease and efficiency to clients and nonprofit service providers, will fundamentally change, for the better, the manner in which we deliver programs," says del Rio. "The E-asy Account solution can be replicated for other housing and financial counseling agencies on a national level." The E-asy Account technology that was developed will be available at no charge to nonprofits after completion of the initial pilot phase.