Setting a goal to teach core concepts of building wealth

February 25, 2022
U.S. Bank employee Carrie Ackerman and daughters Loralee, 9, and Lilliana, 6, using the Goalsetter app.

U.S. Bank invested in Goalsetter, a financial education app for the entire family, which aims to help close the wealth gap and build a new generation of investors and savers.

The idea for Goalsetter, a family savings and investment platform that helps parents teach their kids financial education through games, memes and pop culture, began with a birthday.

Tanya Van Court’s daughter, Gabrielle, said she only wanted two things for her ninth birthday: a bike and enough money to start an investment account. The request inspired Van Court, a former Nickelodeon and Discovery Education executive, to create a new way for kids to learn the core concepts of building wealth. 

Van Court launched Goalsetter in 2016 with the goal of providing a family banking “Super App” that meets the needs of the whole family and grows with kids as they grow, from a 5-year-old’s first savings account to an 8-year- old’s first debit card to a 16-year -old’s first investment account. Given Van Court’s background at Nickelodeon, ESPN and Discovery Education, Goalsetter doubled down on a key set of features that other youth banking platforms didn’t heavily invest in — namely, financial education and gamification of the youth banking experience. 

With Goalsetter, a core set of banking features has been designed with families at the forefront of the user experience. Every member of the family can save toward short- or long-term goals: parents give kids allowance based on chores completed, tweens and teens receive a debit card managed by parental controls, and they can also invest in whole or fractional shares of stocks and ETF’s. Goalsetter also offers hundreds of financial literacy quizzes that are mapped to national financial literacy standards for each grade level from K-12, but centered around memes and GIFs from popular culture.  By making financial education fun, engaging, game-based, and accessible to the entire family, Goalsetter is serving as an onramp to families to not just teach them about spending, but to teach them about saving, investing and building wealth instead. 

U.S. Bank was one of the first corporations to provide investment in the app as part of U.S. Bank Access Commitment™  — a series of initiatives across the business to increase wealth building opportunities, starting with the Black community. 

“When we believe in people who have the vision and capability and need help building capacity to be successful, we need to invest in those people,” said Greg Cunningham, chief diversity officer at U.S. Bank. “Our investment in Goalsetter was about investing in a leader with a track record of success, investing in a Black female leader, investing in Tanya Van Court. I think it is one of the best decisions we have made.”

U.S. Bank recently conducted an eight-week pilot of Goalsetter with nearly 230 employees from the company’s Business Resource Groups. Their feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Nearly three-quarters of participants said that they planned to continue using Goalsetter after the pilot ended, and more than 90% said that they preferred using the app over a classroom setting to learn money management. 

Carrie Ackerman, U.S. Bank vice president in risk compliance and finance, participated in the pilot and enrolled her two oldest children – Loralee, 9, and Lilliana, 6 – in Goalsetter. Both her daughters enjoyed the app, particularly the kid-friendly nature of the financial education quizzes.

If they got the answer right, this fun meme pops up and it’s like an endorphin punch for them – they really enjoyed that,” she said.

U.S. Bank employee Shanel Connor's children checking out their Goalsetter progress.

Shanel Connor, U.S. Bank operations manager in equipment finance, also participated in the pilot along with her three biological kids – ages 12, 9 and 7 – and two custodial children ages 14 and 15. In addition to the financial education tools, Connor and her family also used the Goalsetter Invest feature to buy fractional shares in publicly traded companies. Her 12-year-old son spent a week diligently researching companies before deciding on an international airline, and her 7-year-old son purchased shares of both Apple and Amazon – which he selected based on the volume of packages arriving at the house.

“His stock market investment only totals $13, but he can tell you every day how much it goes up or down,” Connor said. “It’s teaching them the risk of the stock market and that you want to have a diverse portfolio and not have all of your eggs in one basket.”

The U.S. Bank employee pilot participants provided extensive feedback to the Goalsetter team through surveys and question and answer sessions, including drawing up a wish list of other features they’d eventually love to see added to the app.

“What U.S. Bank said was, ‘Let’s create solutions that are for and by the people.’ That’s how we got such great engagement from employees and fantastic outcomes from the employee pilot  — the employees were the ones whose voices were instrumental in deciding on a financial wellness partner that was good for them and their families,” said Van Court. “That’s how change happens in America. When you put in place meaningful changes like giving your BRG’s the power to influence decisions, those structural changes lead to systemic changes.” 

Read more about U.S. Bank Access Commitment.  

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