The 5th OECD Global Policy Research Symposium to Advance Financial Literacy gathered many important actors in the field of financial education. It was the moment to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the OECD International Network on Financial Education (INFE). 240 public institutions from over 110 countries belong to the network. The ABBL is an Affiliate member.
High level government and central bank officials, financial education experts and academics from all around the world shared their experiences and reflections on diverse areas of financial education.
José Ángel Gurría, Secretary General of the OECD, opened the Symposium by explaining the interaction and interdependency of financial literacy and financial stability. He insisted that targeted policies should be adopted to ensure that “nobody will be left behind”. Policymakers are required to support all communities with the appropriate tools and responses. Misunderstanding the implications of changes in economic policy can easily lead to major financial and economic difficulties, as substantiated by significant research and academic analysis.
“Financial literacy is a vital tool to fight inequality, an essential life skill laying the groundwork for evaluating important financial decisions. We need to better understand the relationship between financial education and financial stability.”
José Ángel Gurría
Mr Gurría also highlighted the importance of financial literacy in the age of digitalisation. He referred to the work that has been done so far by the G20 on developing measures to inform and protect investors in a more adequate form in this new digital environment (e.g. better regulation in regard to cryptocurrencies).
Pier Carlo Padoan, Italy’s Minister of Economy and Finance, further shared insights regarding the national strategy on financial education voted recently by the Italian Parliament, including the recent creation of a dedicated internet portal.
“A lack of education may amplify the fall in trust, making scapegoat solutions more attractive and institutional, knowledge building strategies more difficult to implement. A vicious circle can start again making institution building more difficult. As mutual trust falls, inclusion is more difficult to implement thus leading to a further fall in human capital.”
Pier Carlo Padoan.
David Bholat of the Bank of England, focused in his key note speech on “Trust in the financial system : the role of financial literacy and education alongside financial consumer protection” on the economic landscape in the UK where the amount of unbanked people is quite significant (2 million adults). This is mainly (but not exclusively) due to the lack of trust in financial institutions. In this respect, it is worth to note that an adequate consumer protection framework and intelligent regulation are significant elements in the process of trust for consumer and investors.
As a reaction to the findings highlighted by Mr. Bholat, the Bank of England has decided to increase educational resources for citizen mainly through two projects:
Both projects offer British citizens of all ages relevant economic guidance as well as an introduction to the skills required for making important financial decisions. “EconoMe”, launched in April 2018, targets 11-16 years old children, while the “KnowledgeBank” offers a set of information ranging from monetary policy, regulation, housing market to climate change.
While many steps have already been taken, most experts agree that there is still a long way left to further improve and develop citizens’ financial knowledge and literacy.
Presentations of the various speakers can be downloaded via the OECD website.
By Jessica Thyrion, ABBL Adviser, Communication & Financial Education