Publication date: 1 March 2016
Banking representatives from across Europe are taking concrete steps to equip our future generations to manage their finances. Some 12 national representatives, meeting in Brussels ahead of European Money Week 2016 as part of the European Banking Federation’s Project Group on Financial Education, were united in their backing for financial education in schools.
Jillian Heffernan, Head of Communications at the Banking & Payments Federation Ireland, explained why: “We live in a highly complex financial environment when compared to 40 years ago: consumers have a big choice of products and services, and the advanced technology is making the situation even more complex. Financial institutions and governments should work to ensure that citizens are well educated so that we can make the right decisions.”
Fortunately, the situation is showing signs of improvement. According to Wim Mijs, Chief Executive at the EBF, “Many countries are already developing online tools and educational programmes, and they are working with teachers to make this happen.”
A concrete example is the initiative J’invite un banquier dans ma classe (I invite a banker into my class) launched by Les clés de la banque in France. Project organiser Jérôme Cartenet, of the Fédération Bancaire Française, noted that French bankers visited more than 60 classes last year during European Money Week to explain the basics of finance to children and teenagers. This year the aim is to reach more than 100 classes across France.
In the Netherlands, financial education initiatives began six years ago. “We formed a platform with the Dutch Banking Association and also a lot of other stakeholders like consumer organisations. Together we developed National Money Week”, said Arthur Reitsma, Head of Retail Banking at the Dutch association. For this year’s Money Week, more than 3.000 classrooms have already signed up for guest lessons by bankers.
Hilde Elisabeth Johansen from Finance Norway went even further: “In Norway we want financial education to become compulsory. If we want this to become a success, we need to spread the message and get the interest of the media and the political authorities.”
These projects are all heading in the right direction and growing bigger every year, although their impact has yet to be measured. Sébastien de Brouwer, Executive Director at the EBF, said: “It is not easy to assess the efficiency of all those programmes, but we will take into account the number of young people that we were able to reach and also the countries to where the initiative has expanded.”
Beatriz Morilla, from the Spanish Banking Association, agreed on the need for measurement but took a less numbers-orientated view. “Measuring the success of our activities will help us do it better next time. We need to be pragmatic; it is not only about numbers but also about feeling that we all are part of a big project. There are so many intangibles there that you cannot really measure,” she said.
European Money Week is certainly laying the foundations for further progress. As Mr Mijs said, it is a catalyst to bring together academics, the public and private sectors, and the OECD to discuss the urgent need to develop programmes and tools for financial literacy in Europe.
Learn more about the national initiatives that are being carried out in the context of European Money Week from these experts by regularly checking our website: www.ebf.eu/europeanmoneyweek