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Coaching for Healthy Balance Sheets: How Does Coaching Affect Financial Decision-making and Portfolio Health?
Last registered on May 16, 2016


Trial Information
General Information
Coaching for Healthy Balance Sheets: How Does Coaching Affect Financial Decision-making and Portfolio Health?
Initial registration date
May 16, 2016
Last updated
May 16, 2016 5:09 PM EDT
Primary Investigator
Northwestern University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Innovations for Poverty Action
PI Affiliation
Innovations for Poverty Action
Additional Trial Information
On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Why do people sometimes make poor financial choices? What drives individuals’ decisions about what to do with their money? IPA is partnering with a private shipping company in Lima, Peru to deliver a financial coaching program that aims to address behavioral biases that could be preventing their employees from making healthy financial choices. Researchers will evaluate the impact of the program on the employees’ financial decisions related to credit, savings, and money management.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Karlan, Dean, Dean Karlan and Jonathan Zinman. 2016. "Coaching for Healthy Balance Sheets: How Does Coaching Affect Financial Decision-making and Portfolio Health?." AEA RCT Registry. May 16. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1163-1.0.
Former Citation
Karlan, Dean et al. 2016. "Coaching for Healthy Balance Sheets: How Does Coaching Affect Financial Decision-making and Portfolio Health?." AEA RCT Registry. May 16. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1163/history/8234.
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Experimental Details
Researchers are evaluating the impact of an intensive, personalized financial coaching program on the financial decision-making of employees of a shipping company in Peru. The company will offer the coaching program to all of its employees. Researchers will randomly allocate interested employees into two groups: those in Group 1 will receive coaching (approximately 100 employees), those in Group 2 will serve as a comparison group. IPA is implementing the coaching program, and will be responsible for hiring, training, and oversight.

Employees who receive the coaching program will meet one-on-one with their coach once a week for six months. The first 4–6 weeks of the program will consist of in-person meetings in a private or semi-private space to help establish trust between the coaches and employees, and the sessions will thereafter be both in person and over the phone.

The program will feature personalized sessions on banking, building a family budget, good credit management, making a comprehensive debt management plan, goal-setting, savings, insurance, and pension funds. Coaches will work one-on-one with the clients to make calculations that may assist them in focusing on the future, such as how much they could save by cutting down on non-essential expenses. The program will incorporate techniques from behavioral psychology and motivational interviewing, and coaching sessions will be tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of the client, based on intake information and transactional information that coaches track between sessions.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
We will be using a combination of administrative data from a Peruvian credit reporting agency and self-reported survey data to measure the impact of the Financial Coaching Program. The data will allow us to look at various outcomes on financial behaviors, attitudes, debt levels, debt balances, types of debt, delinquency rates, credit utilization rates, credit scores, and savings levels, among others.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We will randomly select control and treatment groups for the Financial Coaching program from a group of employees of a Peruvian shipping company who expressed interest in participating in the program. The treatment group will be offered the Financial Coaching program, and the control group will not be provided access.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
The company has three categories of employees: Administrator, Engineer and Operator. They each require different skills and have separate pay grades. We decided to stratify on these categorizations of employees, as well as gender, since there is a difference in proportions of gender across all categories of employees.
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
116 employees
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
96 treatment, 20 control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
Innovations for Poverty Action IRB #00006083
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)