“The Unbanking of America”: A round-table discussion on her new book with the author, Lisa Servon.

Held on Thursday, April 26, 2017, 8.30-10.00am


  • Lisa Servon (UPenn)

  • Chris Pond (Financial Inclusion Commission) 

  • Christine Allison (CSFI)



Lisa Servon is Professor of City and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She is also an authority on consumer finance in the US, and is the author of an important new book, entitled “The Unbanking of America: How the new middle class survives”.

As part of her research into how/why mainstream banks have withdrawn services from large chunks of the population, and in order the understand the lives and behaviours of the so-called ‘underbanked’, Prof. Servon went to work as a teller at RiteCheck, a cheque-cashing business in the South Bronx, for a payday lender in Oakland, and also studied tandas (informal savings and lending clubs).

The result is a fascinating book, with key insights into how the most marginalised consumers make financial decisions and how they tackle the unwillingness of mainstream institutions to provide the services they need. The book has not yet been published in the UK, but Houghton Mifflin is shipping over a box (or more) which Lisa has agreed to sign and which will be available for sale.

Our own Financial Inclusion Fellow is convinced that “The Unbanking of America” is an exceptionally important piece of work, and that it has profound implications for financial services here in the UK.

That said, Lisa won’t get things all her own way. I am delighted that we have two alternative voices to kick off the discussion:

  • Chris Pond is vice-chairman of the Financial Inclusion Commission, chairman of the Lending Standards Board, chairman of the Caxton Foundation and chairman of The Money Charity. ‘Nuff said.
  • Christine Allison is the CSFI's Financial Inclusion Fellow, and was a member of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Task Group on Responsible Credit and Savings. Previously, Christine spent two decades as a development economist at the World Bank.

This is a chance to take a fresh look at an old problem – and to think about new approaches. It should also produce a lively debate. If you (or a colleague or friend) would like to join the discussion, please call the CSFI on 020 7621 1056 or email alex@csfi.org. As usual, there will be coffee, tea and sticky buns.

Sincerely yours,

Andrew Hilton