Shubhdeep Toor is an intern with the CENTS (Consumer Education and Training Services) Program, whose mission is to provide education, training, and counseling to empower clients to take control of their financial situation by making fully informed decisions.
July 29, 2013
I am currently interning with the CENTS program. CENTS focuses on providing consumers with the knowledge necessary to create a stable financial future. Through bankruptcy classes and debt clinics, CENTS connects consumers with legal professionals who provide free advice. CENTS helps consumers with a wide array of issues from learning how to properly manage one's finances to understanding the steps necessary to overcome an existing financial challenge.
I have gotten the chance to draft consumer outreach materials pertaining to reverse mortgages, student loan debt, and other financial topics. After researching the financial and legal consequences involved with reverse mortgages and student loans, I synthesize the information and help make it understandable for consumers. In addition, I have worked with senior centers across the state to set up free educational classes that would help senior citizens learn about the reverse mortgage process. I have also gotten the opportunity to shadow bankruptcy attorneys. This experience has taught me how to approach sensitive financial topics with professionalism and compassion. We have helped clients determine if filing bankruptcy is right for them. We have also counseled clients of the steps they must take in order to rebuild their credit.
After majoring in finance at Western Washington University, I went on to work in banking. It was through my professional experience that I realized that gap between the desires of the banks and the consumers often was not significant. But due to a lack of communication, the parties' respective goals were not effectively communicated. By taking a cooperative approach, I was able to help hundreds of borrowers keep their homes and avoid foreclosure. I wanted to volunteer with CENTS so I could further my passion for finance and financial advocacy. By providing my experience of working for the banks, I can help consumers understand the decision-making process of the banks.
Ultimately, I would hope that my contributions to CENTS can make a positive impact in the finances of our clients. Guiding customers through the bankruptcy process is an important part of CENTS. However, helping customers develop the financial skills necessary to take charge of their finances is an aspect I have found quite enjoyable. When I worked in banking I had numerous customers tell me that my help changed their lives. They were able to sleep at night knowing they would be able to keep their home. I hope that our clients with CENTS can also experience that same peace of mind.
Aug. 26, 2013
When I started my internship, my goal was to educate consumers about taking control of their finances. I recognize that all consumers face the risk of financial missteps, however, I believe the two demographics that are primarily overlooked when it comes to financial education are college students and senior citizens.
College students do not have strong earning power during the early stage of their adult lives, but it imperative they develop good habits early. Bad credit can negatively affect one's ability to get a car, an apartment, and even a job. I wanted my message to educate but at the same time not be condescending to the students that would see my materials. I was mindful of the fact these individuals are adults so they should be treated as such.
On that same token, the products marketed to seniors are often full of half-truths and paint an incomplete picture. While senior citizens may have more knowledge and life experience than college students, the innovation of new financial products like reverse mortgages allows salespeople to successfully market to senior citizens. The materials highlight the upsides of a product but brush the negatives under the rug.
I aimed to correct that flaw. Reverse mortgages can be the right choice for some people, but for others they are not the right choice. I designed my educational materials to be understandable and digestible. I avoided using technical mortgage jargon and instead focused on more concrete benefits and risks brought on by reverse mortgages.
After working on the creditors' side at Wells Fargo, my experience with CENTS has given me insight to issues that exist on the debtor sides. By having experience on both sides, I can now help develop solutions for my clients by taking a cooperative approach. CENTS has reinforced my passion for finance and really showed me how much of need for financial advocacy exists.
As I figure out my career path, I know that I want financial advocacy to be a part of work. As the saying goes, knowledge is power. That is especially true for finances. As the financial world becomes more and more globalized and the options for consumers increase, information and knowledge becomes even more important. I hope to play a part in providing useful information that can make a positive impact on people's lives.