"You can not live without mastering money", says Patrice Cros, director of Finances & Pédagogie, who shares his thoughts in an the interview with News & Views.
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Why is financial inclusion so important for people?
It is clear that throughout our personal and professional lives, we must make decisions that will have financial implications. Without information about the essential mechanisms of personal finance, the citizen cannot develop his life in a controlled and positive way.
What is the connection between Finances & Pédagogie and the savings banks in France?
The association Finances & Pédagogie develops its activities thanks to the financial support of the French Caisses d'Epargne. This financial support is part of the social commitment of the savings banks. This commitment to give a return to society has been the very reason for the creation of the savings banks more than 200 years and this commitment is as strong now as it was then. This financial support is a patronage. We train in money matters without promoting product and banking services. This strict neutrality allows us to work with a wide variety of partners.
Could you summarize the activities of your association in a few words?
In a few words, it's difficult. (smiles) Indeed, our 28 employees carry out a multitude of projects all over France. In 2018, we worked with 870 partners to train nearly 46,000 people! These partners function as relays and multiply our action. Employees of Finances & Pédagogie are thus every day on the road and meet with a wide variety of people: workers in the social economy, refugees, start-up founders, political and economic decision-makers, and young people living in different situations. Thanks to the efforts of our employees and the long-term support of the savings banks, Finances & Pédagogie has become the most important private financial education player in France.
I would summarize that our ambition is to be present at all key moments of the life of French citizens: when entering the workforce, during major decisions of family life (housing, education of children) and finally at the moment of retirement. We pay special attention to populations such as young people and people in situations of economic or social fragility.
How can all this attention for financial education be explained?
Because money occupies a central place in our society, quite simply. And any change in society has an influence on how we view money. Think for example of climate change. The increased awareness of the human impact on the environment leads us to develop energy savings, which have an influence on our personal budget in the form of a reduction of expenditure for energy or in the form of investments in order to make our homes more energy efficient.
Another example is the digital revolution, which is radically changing our relationship with spending money: when it takes just a few clicks to pay for a purchase, it is even more important to control your budget to avoid bad surprises at the end of the month!
At Finances & Pédagogie, we are extremely pleased to see that other actors, both public and private, are aware of this and are willing to work coherently. I am thinking of course of the National Strategy for Financial Education under the aegis of the French central bank.
Which financial themes raise the most questions during your training?
Not surprisingly the management of the household budget. In a society that is becoming more and more complex, it is essential to control your budget. Sound and realistic management helps achieve its goals. Then the training "the bank and the means of payment". Payments are for most citizens the main contact with the financial sector and the real explosion of digital means of payment raises many questions and even fears. The training "credit, microcredit and over-indebtedness" occupies the third place.
Taking care of your finances is not always a pleasure. How do you make the material interesting?
First of all, it is important to realize that financial education is really at the heart of the issues in the life of each of us and therefore of society in general. Our staff do not dispense a theoretical subject in a learned and distant way: they draw their material in the everyday life and adapt perfectly to their public.
Then, the association uses the new technologies of communication. We are constantly strengthening our distance-learning offer and have created a web series "Money in all its forms". We also use the application Pilotebudget, available on Android and Apple Store, which we developed in collaboration with a dozen other public and private partners.
Image right: Students receiving awards at the « European stock market learning awards ceremony » in 2018.
Similar activities exist elsewhere in Europe. Do you envisage a collaboration?
It is clear that European countries face the same challenges when it comes to financial education. At the same time, it is fascinating to note the differences between countries. I am thinking, for example, of Sweden, where cash payments have almost disappeared in favour of digital. The different players have everything to gain from international cooperation. I am thinking, among other things, of the FLIP initiative in Austria. Developed by the Austrian savings banks, this project can certainly serve as inspiration. In this context, the important role of ESBG and WSBI in the transfer of knowledge and good practice is essential.
About Finance & Pédagogie
The association Finances & Pédagogie was created in 1957 by the French savings banks. It carries out awareness raising and training on the general theme of money in life, for all audiences. These action programs and these supports are developed thanks to the financial support of the savings banks as part of their societal commitment. The association intervenes in three sectors: social and associative to raise awareness and support, education to empower and businesses to train and inform. >> Learn more at www.finances-pedagogie.fr