Financial Literacy 2007 - Credit cards
Susan Keating
credit cards
Interview: Susan C. Keating

Susan Keating is the president and chief executive officer of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling -- the nation's largest and longest serving nonprofit credit counseling organization.

At a glance
Name: Susan C. Keating
Hometown: Washington, D.C.
Career highlights:
  • President, CEO of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC)
  • Highest-ranking female CEO of a U.S. bank holding company
  • President, CEO of Allfirst Financial, Inc. (2000-2002)
  • Recognized as one of Pennsylvania's 50 Best Women

Her experience in financial services spans three decades and has provided her with a solid insight into the issues facing the credit industry.

Keating joined the NFCC in March 2004.

She took the top position after heading up Allfirst Financial Inc., which had been among the top 50 largest U.S. banks and the largest U.S. holding of Allied Irish Banks.

Keating has served as a board member for several reputable organizations such as the Financial Services Roundtable.

She chaired the Consumer Issues Committee for the public policy group, which represents the largest firms in the banking, securities, investment and insurance sectors.

q_v2.gifYou've said that raising minimum credit card payments is in the best interest of consumers over the long term. Why is this policy good for them?

a_v2.gifIn the long term, it is a way to break free of this whole revolving debt cycle that many consumers really can't seem to escape. I believe this policy is aimed at helping consumers pay off outstanding balances and at getting out of debt more quickly.

In the short run, however, what we've seen is that it has created financial stress for consumers. Particularly, for those who are continuing to charge and use credit without considering the consequences of the debt that they are accruing. These people may be actually increasing their debt and thereby creating an additional burden for themselves because of the higher minimum payment requirements.

So, in the short-term we are seeing some stress and that's problematic, but overall I think the intention and the objective is right on.

q_v2.gifCredit cards are the most common form of credit. However, many people fail to read the disclosures regarding the use of their credit cards. What can the banking industry and/or the government do to encourage a person to read and understand these disclosures?

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a_v2.gifThis all comes back to financial education.

Financial instability, unmanageable debts and bankruptcy are huge sources of stress that can tear families apart, destroy peoples' emotional and physical well-being, and deprive children of a sense of security and limit their opportunities. That is why I believe that innovative credit products and innovative credit education should go hand-in-hand.

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