The Importance of Financial Education
Financial education is increasingly important, and not just for investors. It is becoming essential for the average family trying to decide how to balance its budget, buy a home, fund the children’s education (or manage your credit report) and ensure an income when the parents retire.
Of course people have always been responsible for managing their own finances on a day to day basis – spend on a holiday or save for new furniture; how much to put aside for a child’s education or to set them up in life – but recent developments have made financial education and awareness increasingly important for financial well-being.
For one thing, the growing sophistication of financial markets means consumers are not just choosing between interest rates on two different bank loans or savings plans, but are rather being offered a variety of complex financial instruments for borrowing and saving, with a large range of options. At the same time, the responsibility and risk for financial decisions that will have a major impact on an individual’s future life, notably pensions, are being shifted increasingly to workers and away from government and employers. As life expectancy is increasing, the pension question is particularly important as individuals will be enjoying longer periods of retirement.
Individuals will not be able to choose the right savings or investments for themselves, and may be at risk of fraud, if they are not financially literate. But if individuals do become financially educated, they will be more likely to save and to challenge financial service providers to develop products that truly respond to their needs, and that should have positive effects on both investment levels and economic growth.
This Policy Brief looks at the importance of financial education, and how the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) is helping governments achieve it. One key challenge is convincing people that they are not as financially literate as they think they are.
Become a better consumer and take charge of your budget and your credit score, reach out to your Financial Education Service Agent to learn more.