I have two exciting (at least what I consider exciting) job openings at Innovations for Poverty Action, both helping to design and test applications of behavioral economics to savings. Please help get the word out (note, they require some specialized expertise and experience, ideally someone with consumer banking experience).
Post #1: Manager or Director of our US Household Finance Initiative (USHFI). This initiative uses ideas from behavioral economics to test ideas to improve consumer finance policies and products in the United States. The position will require managing a number of projects, but here’s one example: Both debt and savings are all about small deposits and large withdrawals. But order matters. And habits matter. Banks help us form habits to pay down debt (they’ll hunt us down if we don’t). When someone is paying down expensive (higher than they can reasonably expect to earn on any investment) debt, they shouldn’t simultaneously accumulate savings. But how can we shift someone quickly (ideally automatically) into savings right when the debt is fully paid off? The plan is to have a seamless transition moment, so that the payments continue but now go to savings rather than paying down debt. (More info here).
Post #2: Manager or Director of Text Message Reminders Replications. This is an ambitious initiative to establish a portfolio of text message reminders studies around the world. The replication projects will build on this paper, in which we found that sending people simple monthly text messages reminding them to save increased savings by 6%. This amount, though seemingly small, is huge compared to the minimal cost of a text message. The few extant evaluations of text message reminders to save have raised more questions than they have answered. With this initiative, IPA will test out variations of product combinations, information content, timing, etc. All studies will have two aims: (1) learn more about how information, attention, persuasion and peers can influence day-to day-savings and debt decisions for people around the world, and (2) develop actionable white papers and instructions for microfinance institutions and banks that work with the poor around the world on how to use the explosion in cellphone usage to improve the way they interact with current and potential clients. (More info here).