Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Monday, September 25, 2017

Collins honored for financial research, service

Collins honored for financial research, service

Associate Professor J. Michael Collins of UW–Madison’s La Follette School of Public Affairs and School of Human Ecology, received the inaugural Ketchum Prize from the FINRA Foundation in September. He was honored for his outstanding service and research to advance investor protection and financial capability in the United States.

The award is named for Richard “Rick” Ketchum, who retired as chair and chief executive officer of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and chair of the FINRA Foundation in 2016.

In accepting the $10,000 award, Collins said, “I am honored to accept this prestigious award. The FINRA Foundation’s recognition draws attention to our efforts to build financial capability and security for families, especially those for whom every financial decision is critical. I am especially grateful to have a prize named for Rick Ketchum, who was such a steadfast leader in this field.”

Collins, the Fetzer Family Chair in Consumer and Personal Finance at UW–Madison, also serves as faculty director of the Center for Financial Security on campus. The center conducts research and provides services to help individuals and families improve their financial outcomes. It also provides extensive outreach to financial capability professionals and policymakers to put that research into practice.

In 2016, Collins received a Vilas Associates Award from UW–Madison’s Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education to support a project to develop a financial intervention that helps economically vulnerable families to keep up with ongoing out-of-pocket health care expenses. That work has continued with support of the Met Life Foundation, as well as the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

“Michael’s innovative and thoughtful approaches have the potential to improve medication adherence and save costs for health care systems,” La Follette School Director Don Moynihan said.

Collins studies consumer decision-making in the financial marketplace, including the role of public policy in influencing credit, savings, and investment choices. His work also includes the study of financial capability with a focus on low-income families and other vulnerable populations. For example, Collins recently led a group of La Follette School students conducting research for AARP Wisconsin that showed how even modest increases in the net worth of those who save the least for retirement would greatly improve retirement readiness and reduce government spending on public assistance programs.

“Dr. Collins’ groundbreaking research is helping to advance our understanding of financial capability in America, particularly among groups that have been historically underrepresented,” Gerri Walsh, president of the FINRA Foundation, said in a news release announcing the award (watch video). “His work is having a profound impact on the efforts of advocates, educators, and policymakers seeking to improve outcomes in their local communities and regions.”