A collaborative global project to advance consumer finance research
UPDATED: CONSUMER FINANCE RESEARCH METHODS TOOLKIT 2020 VERSION NOW AVAILABLE
CFRM PROJECT BACKGROUND
What is the CFRM Project?
The goal of the Consumer Finance Research Methods Project is to assist researchers in adapting to changing conditions in consumer finance globally and to better understand the consumers of financial products.
We are surveying qualitative and quantitative consumer finance research globally (both commercial and non-commercial), and synthesising our findings into products to help researchers learn about innovations in their fields.
What is consumer finance?
We define consumer finance as money management practices by individuals and/or households
using a range of financial tools (e.g., money, bank accounts, cards, transfer services,
mobile money, microfinance, insurance) to achieve financial goals (e.g., saving, lending,
borrowing, insuring, investing).
Household business activities are not generally included in this description. However, we recognize that there are many households around the world that do not clearly demarcate their household expenses from their business expenses. Ignoring household business could therefore cause us to miss valuable information that explains their management of their personal finances. We therefore maintain a flexible definition.
What we're doing
We are creating products to assist researchers working in all sectors of consumer finance:
- A paper outlining the project rationale
- Blog posts on consumer finance issues (see our first, second, and third posts; for our series on debt see part one and part two)
- A toolkit showcasing qualitative and quantitative research methods, with case studies of their application in different sectors of consumer finance
- Together, these products cover key issues in consumer finance research and methods for understanding them.
The CFRM Toolkit
TCFRM Toolkit demonstrates how a range of qualitative and quantitative methods can be applied to research problems in consumer finance. The CFRM Toolkit will be web-based and free to use.
We discuss what the advantages of each method are, what limitations they present, and how they are applied in consumer finance research. It features case studies that show how different methods can be used, separately or in combination, to find answers to some of the trickiest problems in consumer finance research, such as:
- How people choose financial products from a broad and increasing range
- Why people make (or fail to make) decisions that could potentially help them
- Understanding how the causes of debt can be as social as they are individual
- Developing ways to measure financial well-being and inclusion
We take a multidisciplinary and multi-sector approach, incorporating insights from:
- Commercial, academic, government, and development research
- Economics, anthropology, sociology, human geography, political science, statistics, computer science, behavioral psychology, and design
In bringing together these diverse approaches, the Toolkit helps readers to design an appropriate research program to investigate a specific issue or problem.
The toolkit is designed to help readers to:
- Learn about innovations taking place in consumer finance research
- Broaden your knowledge of the strengths and limitations of different methods for understanding financial behaviour
- Connect with researchers and organizations with complementary expertise
- Locate other useful resources
What is in the CFRM Toolkit?
- Classic methods, such as surveys, statistical analysis, interviews, and ethnography
- Innovative methods, such as object-centred interviews, digital studies, new kinds of data analysis, and field experiments
- Methods that are specific to consumer finance research, such as financial diaries
- Showcase both commercial and noncommercial consumer finance research
- Demonstrate how individual methods are applied to particular problems
- Illustrate mixed method, multimethod, and collaborative research
- Discuss ethical issues arising in consumer finance, including human subjects review and protection
- Learn more about using different methods
- Links to relevant institutions conducting innovative consumer finance work
- List of useful data sources for consumer finance research
Who is the toolkit for?
The toolkit is intended for use by anyone who needs to understand how people use finance products and services, including:
- Research managers
- Qualitative and quantitative researchers
- User insight specialists
- Development workers
- Policy specialists
- Students/Teachers (applied settings)
Whether you work in the field, in a lab, office, or at home on your notebook, this toolkit covers methods that are relevant to your consumer finance research.
Some of the ways you can get involved include:
- Testing the toolkit and letting us know about your experience
- Telling us what we can include to better assist you and your team
- Sharing your perspectives on global changes in consumer finance
- Sharing your research stories from the field and offering tips that can benefit
- other practitioners
- Suggestions for methods or specific issues in consumer finance to be added to the toolkit
Join the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #IMTFI
Meet the team - Contact us directly by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Erin B. Taylor is Project Lead. She is an economic anthropologist and a Research Fellow at the Social Sciences Institute at the University of Lisbon, Portugal. Erin is the author of Materializing Poverty: How the Poor Transform Their Lives (2013, AltaMira), a book about how residents of a Dominican squatter settlement invest in their homes and community as part of their socio-economic strategies.
Gawain Lynch is Project Consultant. He is a Director at Canela Group, a research consultancy specializing in knowledge products. Gawain has an extensive background in technology as an Infrastructure Consultant and is an expert in content management systems. In his spare time he is the brains behind the popular anthropology website PopAnth: Hot Buttered Humanity.