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Evolution, Revolution - Financial Education in the Digital Age

Evolution, Revolution - Financial Education in the Digital Age

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Conference dives deep into needs, challenges related to financial education in digital age​

>> Read about the event programme & speakers

BRUSSELS, 24 Octobe​r 2019 – Policymakers, regulators, researchers, consumers representatives, not-for-profit institutions, practitioners, international organisations, financial museums and members of WSBI-ESBG gathered on 23 October at WSBI-ESBG's premises in Brussels to discuss financial education in the digital age. Debates focused on the role financial education can play in the digital era and looked at standards and evaluation methods of digital financial education programmes. 

The event was also the opportunity to present the joint WSBI-ESBG & Parents International initiative –​ a Set of Basic Financial Competences, Skills and Concepts. ​This year's conference coincided with the World Savings Day celebrations. For more than 90 years WSBI and its members have spearheaded annually a day dedicated to promoting the virtue of people saving money. Coined World Savings Day, it was the first initiative of WSBI, the voice of savings and retail banks in nearly 80 countries.​

>> Learn more about World Savings Day​​

Chris D​e Noose, WSBI-ESBG​ Managing Director, kicked off the conference with an opening address, reiterating the association’s stance on financial education as a longstanding tradition of the savings and retail banks community. "Digital skills are strictly intertwined with financial literacy skills as financial services evolve with the digital trend​," added De Noose. "WSBI-ESBG firmly believes that financial education does equal to empowerment in today’s socio-economic context and enables citizens to successfully take part in society."

Dr. Annamaria Lusardi​, Founde​r and Academic Director of GWSB’s Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC)​, delivered the keynote address (>> presentation​) by shedding light on th​e need for more financial literacy amongst the population and linking financial literacy to wellbeing as well as financial inclusion. She also stressed that having financial inclusion without financial literacy is planting the seeds for the next crisis. ​

What role for financial education?

The first panel featured Dr. Mario Nava, Director of Horizontal Policies at DG FISMA, Fernando Tejada, Director at the Bank of Spain​, Wolfgang Neumann, Chair of the WSBI-ESBG Coordination Committee, and Monica Malo, Head of Communications, External Relations & Sustainability at CECA (Spanish Confederation of Savings Banks).​​

Panellists discussed the role of financial educati​on in the d​​igital age in light of recent developments such as ICOs, cryptocurrencies, robo-advice, etc. Some of the main takeaways included the fact that there are increasingly more digital tools available to broaden the outreach of financial education and inclusion; however, this does not solve the fundamental problem – the need for financial education. Mario Nava also highlighted that young people do not receive any financial education at school, yet they are increasingly exposed to financial decisions. There is a need to introduce this important life skill in schools; the earlier the better. Wolfgang Neumann also noted how savings and retail banks have always played a key role in helping ​and teaching people how to save​. Monica Malo ​described how financial education is instrumental education that has a direct impact on your performance in life​. CECA was recently awarded for their financial education initiatives that reach up to 9 million people in Spain. ​​​

WSBI-ESBG firmly believes that the topic of financial education, despite falling within the remit of Members States, could gain more relevance at EU level. WSBI-ESBG stands ready to fully support the European Commission and other relevant stakeholders, such as the European Parliament, in this endeavour.

Following the first panel, Patrice Cros, Director of Finances & Pédagogie, gave a keynote speech on new opportunities for digital financial education by explainng how the French organisation has seized this opportunity to innovate. "The relationship between digital and financial education is a special one" and "the role of pedagogues and facilitators will be more crucial than ever in the digital transformation", emphasised Cros. 

Evaluating financial education programmes

The second panel addressed the challenges related to the standards and evaluation methods of financial education programmes due to the digital dimension. Dr. Lukas Menkhoff, Head of International Economics at DIW Berlin, stressed that rigourous evaluation methods are scarce. It is however crucial to know what works. Danièle Vander Espt, Director of Financial Education at Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA), commented on how the fast-pace changes related to digital and technology make it challenging for research to measure and analyse the effects of financial education programmes. A balanced approach between experience and research is needed.

Joint WSBI-ESBG & Parents International initiative

The third and last panel showcased the newly released Set of Basic Financial Competences, Skills and Concepts – a joint initiative between WSBI-ESBG and Parents International. Panellists included Eszter Salamon, Director of Parents International, Korina Dörr, Head of Consumer Consulting Service „Geld und Haushalt”, Philip List, Director of Erste Financial Life Park (FLiP), and Dr. Dana Puia Morel, Entrepreneurship Education and Women Entrepreneurship​, DG GROW. They discussed the rationale behind this project, particularly in today's context. Dealing with money, understanding how it works, what services and tools are available to safeguard your earnings and make provisions for rainy days are essential for a happy adult life.​ 

Panellists agreed that basic financial skills and competences should be added to school curricula. They are an important dimension of entrepreneurial skills. 

>> Read about the Set of Basic Financial Competences, Skills and Concepts​

Wilhelm Krätschmer, Chair of WSBI-ESBG Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development Committee concluded the conference, stating that Fintech is not a substitute for financial literacy, and financial education is more important than ever in the digital age. The benefits of digital outreach should be acknowledged, as well as the usability challenges. Financial education equals to empowerment and implies a shared responsibility among all actors. WSBI-ESBG will continue to work towards promoting this relevant debate. 

>> Read Chris De Noose's speech​

>> See Annamaria Lusardi's presentation

>> Read Patrice Cros' speech

>> Read about the event programme & speakers

Financial education; Financial Literacy; Financial inclusion; Digitalisation; Regulation; European Institutions; Consumer protection; World Savings Day; Innovation; Innovation Hub