Many financial institutions consider it a core principle to improve the quality of life for their members and the surrounding community. Those efforts often revolve around member education, and naturally, the educational focus for financial institutions tends to be on financial literacy. With all of the challenges in the global economy, that focus is increasingly relevant and urgent. Ben Bernanke, US Federal Reserve Chairman, reinforces the connection when he says:
Financial education supports not only individual well-being, but also the economic health of our nation.1
James Rajotte, Chair of the Canadian House of Commons Finance Committee, echoes the same sentiment:
I firmly believe that one of the key pillars of a strong Canadian economy is having a financially literate population.2
So the “why?” is pretty clear, as is the “when?” — that would be yesterday!
As for the “who?”, I’ve never heard anyone take issue with the old adage: “start early!” So youngsters are clearly a key part of the “who?”. And when money and kids are involved — regardless of what you’re doing in the schools to teach money concepts — you’ll need to involve the parents and guardians. Why? It’s about practice. Like any other skill, kids can’t master personal finance without practice. And, kids can’t practice personal finance without real money. Where do young kids primarily get their money? Their parents, of course. So, the parents need to be involved to make it all work. Even if we were to ignore such practical matters for the moment, it’s very clear that money and values are intimately intertwined. Just ask parents whether they care about how their kids earn, spend, save, and give their money. You’ll invariably hear passionate responses deeply rooted in their unique family history and values. Parental involvement in financial education is a moral imperative.
That brings us to the “how?”. How does a financial institution figure out what’s next and what’s best when it comes to financial literacy? The answer is research. Lots of research. Start by analyzing a large sampling of viable candidate solutions — say, 60 or more. Then, score each according to key criteria, like whether the solution is targeted, interactive, accessible, scalable, and effective. Finally, use that data to pick a handful of best solutions with the most potential.
Sounds like a lot of work, right? It is. But, here’s the good news: it’s already been done for you. All you have to do is check out the System Brief delivered this month by Credit Union Central of Canada. It’s called “Financial Literacy: What’s Best and What’s Next.” You can download it here.
Spoiler alert! FamZoo, our online and mobile application that helps parents teach their kids good money habits, is among the 8 selections for “What’s Best” culled from 67 candidates. And when it comes to “What's Next?”, FamZoo is among just three identified on the “Short Term” list as suitable for rolling out right away.
So, if you’re with a financial institution looking for what’s best and what’s next in financial literacy, we’d be delighted to set up a live, private online demo to show you how FamZoo works and how it can be customized for your institution. Just contact us here.
1 Conversation with the Chairman: A Teacher Town Hall Meeting, Ben S. Bernanke, Federal Reserve Board, Washington, D.C., August 7, 2012.
2 Parliament’s Role in Promoting Financial Literacy. A Special Column by the Chair of the House of Commons Finance Committee, Policy and Advocacy Report, Credit Union Central of Canada, November 15, 2012.