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New Speaker Series Explores Responsible Business & Consumer Financial Health

Featured Events Marketing | Oct 29, 2020 |

By Claire Curry

Consumer financial well-being is the theme of a new speaker series hosted by the Gabelli School of Business that launched this week. Scholars from the marketing area are discussing different facets of current research on the subject, including financial literacy, influences on consumer judgement and decision making, and consumer attitudes toward spending and saving during economic downturns.

For years, evidence has shown overwhelmingly that consumers struggle with making good financial decisions, explained Professor of Marketing Hooman Estelami. “People take on more debt than they can handle and others don’t understand the nature of the debt they are taking on. They go into debt very quickly and masses of debt accumulate,” he said. Many are unable to deal with the resulting financial problems especially now, in the wake of the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While multiple factors contribute to poor financial decision making, some companies’ unethical business practices intentionally mislead consumers for the sake of profit.

Photo taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As part of our Gabelli School mission, we have a responsibility to speak the truth and call it out,” Estelami said, explaining that the higher purpose of the speaker series is to create a constant, dynamic conversation about how businesses can actually help—rather than hurt—consumer financial health. “How can we improve? Who is most vulnerable? What are practices that make it more likely for people to make good financial decisions? These are the things we want to look at.”

The first lecture of the series was held on Oct. 29 when Timothy de Waal Malefyt, clinical professor of marketing, shared insights on how “new narratives” in consumer spending evolve and further reshape consumer orientation to value.

The next presentation, delivered by Professor Genevieve O’Connor, will be held virtually on Nov. 12 at 1 p.m. The topic: “Is Saving Automation Helpful to Liquid Savings?” At 1 p.m. on Dec. 3, Assistant Professor of Marketing Hoori Rafieian, will consider the dynamics of financial decisions using experimental design.

For more information on either of these two upcoming events, please contact Aida Lahood, marketing area program manager at alahood@fordham.edu.

Additional areas of current faculty research that may be explored in future workshops include bank marketing, financial innovations, financial product communications, ethnography of consumer finances, and consumer financial protection.

“Consumer financial well-being is a very interesting and dynamic field,” Estelami said, “and it’s extremely relevant to what the Gabelli School is about, which is running businesses in a responsible way.”

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