Enabling financial health

Responsible products and services

From saving for a down payment on a major purchase to planning for and living in retirement to funding a college education, people make dozens of financial decisions every day. At Bank of America, we are committed to ensuring our policies, products, and programs all align to our purpose of making financial lives better for those we serve. We’ve done this in part by creating simple, safe, transparent, and easy-to-use financial solutions that give people greater control of their finances. When individuals feel financially secure and are able to achieve their financial goals, communities are made stronger.

For each person, feeling in control of their money and making finances simpler and easier to manage means something different. For some, it’s all about more predictability in their everyday finances; for others, it’s getting useful information in moments that matter. Here are some of the ways we’re helping people manage their finances:

Transparency

  • Alerts: We have a range of proactive alerts that clients can set up to be proactively notified of account activity.
  • Policy on overdrafts: We don’t let debit card clients overdraft at the point of sale. As part of our commitment to providing more clarity and transparency for clients, in 2010, we made the decision to only allow debit card transaction at the point of sale if a client has enough money in his or her account. Clients also cannot overdraw their account at the ATM, unless they proactively agree that they understand a fee will be charged. This change helped clients by reducing the likelihood they may inadvertently overdraw their account and incur unexpected overdraft fees on those transactions.
  • Use of transparent language: We improved the clarity and transparency of product information through our Clarity Commitment™ for mortgages, home equity loans and credit card accounts. We worked with Pew Charitable Trusts to launch an enhanced checking Clarity Statement™, a concise two-page document that clearly explains the fees and policies related to the specific checking account being opened.

Responsible products

  • SafeBalance Banking: This account is an alternative option for our clients who want more predictability in the way they bank, no overdraft fees, and the ability to manage their finances without using paper checks. They spend only what’s in their account and can also take advantage of many of the same features of a traditional checking account — with a low monthly maintenance fee.
  • BankAmericard® Secured credit card: For many clients, a secured credit card is the first step in establishing financial credit, and for some, this type of credit card will help strengthen or even rebuild good credit. Whatever the reason or phase in their financial lives, Bank of America is here to help.
  • Affordable Loan Solution: This fixed-rate loan for low- and moderate-income borrowers offers a competitive rate with a down payment as low as 3% to help make buying a home more affordable. Since its introduction in February 2016, the program has been meeting the needs of LMI borrowers who desire a responsible mortgage product at an affordable entry point, ensuring continued support for an innovative mortgage program that has provided more than 90 percent of its recipients first-time homeownership financing.

Working with aging clients

Aging is a complex financial and emotional experience. Add to that the fact that aging clients are often most vulnerable to financial fraud, and the need to share insights to prepare for older age or caregiving becomes even more critical. As we continue to build our capabilities to rapidly respond to and better anticipate key life events, we are providing information to our clients and consumers about protecting themselves against fraudulent activity and providing ongoing guidance about protecting their identities.

  • Knowing the risks: Working with partners like AARP and National Council on Aging, we are providing financial education through our Better Money Habits® platform. In addition, we partner with the Savvy Saving Seniors® program, which helps people learn about common scams and provides financial protection tips. Our Merrill Lynch Wealth Management team released a white paper titled ‘What Behavioral Finance Has to Say about Elder Financial Fraud,’ on how the elderly handle financial fraud and how isolation can cause victimization. The white paper provides analysis and helpful tips to prevent, detect and recover from elder financial fraud.
  • Training Employees: Through annual training and management practices, every employee at Bank of America is trained, tested for proficiency in their respective areas of work, and directed to escalate potential problems that may indicate scams or exploitation that target older clients. Additionally, in partnership with the USC School of Gerontology, Merrill Lynch offers a new training program aimed to help company financial advisors and retirement specialists to better understand the changing needs of the nation’s aging population.
  • Helping Our Clients Prepare for Life Changes: Our Life Priorities Framework and Life Events Checklists serve as a resource for life’s big changes, from becoming a caregiver to changing jobs. The checklists offer step-by step guides to handle other unexpected life scenarios.

Resources

  • Better Money Habits®: Developed in partnership with nonprofit Khan Academy, this online education resource—which is free and available for all—is part of our commitment to helping everyone understand more about their finances, one decision at a time. BetterMoneyHabits.com pairs Khan Academy’s expertise in online learning with our financial know-how to deliver simple, easy-to- understand information on a wide range of personal finance topics. For those who are entering or preparing for older age, resources on caregiving, retirement, estate planning, protection against financial fraud and more are available.
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