Make The Consumer Savvy Connection

Plug into these strategies to maximize your personal purchasing power in the 21st century.

activity with your kids. Only your presentation changes.

Remember that people sometimes look at us and see something very different from what we believe about ourselves. One way to help you stay on top of the visual presentation you project — and communicate it in a way that people get it — is to lay your clothes out at night. This seems so elementary, but you’re putting together your image in an informed context. Where are you going, and what is expected of you in that environment? Does your clothing reflect that? When you do this you know you’ll be presenting the best and most appropriate image of yourself every time you step out of the house. Your packaging is essential to being the best that you can be.

Harriette Cole spent 11 years at Essence magazine as both fashion and lifestyle editor before launching profundities, an image development and production firm in New York City, in 1995. The Howard University alumna is the author of Jumping the Broom: The African-American Wedding Planner (Henry Holt & Co., $18.95), Jumping the Broom Wedding Workbook: A Step-by-Step Write-In Guide for Planning the Perfect African-American Wedding (Henry Holt & Co., $16.95) and How to Be: A Guide to Contemporary Living for African Americans (Simon & Schuster, $26).

Gail Snowden, executive vice president/managing director community banking group/cra fleetboston financial corp.
On banking changes and the consumer
Financial modernization — consisting of the most sweeping and contentious financial changes made since the Great Depression — heralds tremendous opportunities for the consumer today. Under the new federal regulations, banks now have the ability to provide a full range of products and services to their retail and commercial customers — everything from investment products, such as mutual funds and annuities, to casualty and property insurance, as well as traditional banking services. Our customers now have a chance to move beyond basic banking to fully managing their portfolios for true wealth creation and the development of a money management strategy for the future.

Yet, these exciting changes present a great challenge to our industry, since the increasing complexity and sophistication of our technology systems also increase the likelihood of more consumers being left behind. Access to Internet technology is the entree for our customers to move from traditional banking into a world of expanded knowledge and sophistication in managing their finances.

I believe we’re also seeing a shift in that consumers are seeking out financial providers that are more aligned with their own personal values. For example, a customer may inquire, “Are there blacks or people of color and women on the board of directors? Are they among the top tier of management? Does the bank have an outstanding CRA rating in the community?” Consumers have real power to leverage their finances to create lasting social change by asking these questions.

At the end of the day, all of us in financial services must be able to stand on our records and be able to say they incorporate inclusion, wealth creation, and opportunity for all of the many people we

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