Poverty stops where savings start

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​​​​Bankers, academics agree in Madrid that financial education at savings banks' core


 

 

>> SEE: Financial History workshop event page


​​BRUSSELS, 9 October 2017 –  Cecabank hosted on 5 October a WSBI-ESBG workshop dedicated to financial education. The event Improving Savings Culture, a lifetime of financial education, gathered in Madrid 10 speakers from Europe and Latin America, who all agreed with WSBI-ESBG Managing Director Chris De Noose:  “Poverty stops where savings start".

The workshop kicked off with José María Méndez, Director General of Cecabank, and Gloria Caballero, Deputy Director of the Financial Education Area at CNMV (Spanish Securities and Exchange Commission). In their keynote speeches, they reminded the audience that financial education is a top priority on the agenda of the public authorities and financial institutions. In the aftermath of the financial crises in 2008, the Bank of Spain and the Spanish Securities and Exchange Commission launched a Financial Education Plan aiming to foster financial inclusion, financial wellbeing and empowerment of consumers. Since then, Spain has registered important progress thanks to this national strategy on financial education.

Fernando Tejada, from the Bank of Spain, insisted on the importance of combining research and policy making when it comes to savings banks. As for education, he correctly said: “Just like it's easier to learn how to ride a bike as a child, the same goes with savings: financial education should start from a young age". ​


 

Insights from different countries and times

Panel 1 started with Robert Muschalla presenting Sandra Maβ' paper. He explained how, in Europe, school savings and school banking have a longstanding history, starting from the 19th century, with strong connections to traditional and religious concepts. Thomas Ruoss focused on the International Savings Banks Institute – the predecessor of the WSBI) which was created in the aftermaths of the post-war crises in 1924, doing the promotion of financial education. It was then also very interesting to hear about more contemporary projects in the presentation of Yolanda Blasco-Martel. She presented data from a survey conducted among university students' to analyse their financial competences and financial education level.

The second panel was dedicated to the Importance of a lifetime savings for everyone​. Janette Rutterford explained that in today's Britain, in response to a record low savings ratio, the conservative government has returned to the same tactics to encourage thrift, introducing the Lisa – a savings account enabling British to save up to more than 4.000€ a year without paying tax on this money put away.

"​One cannot talk about savings and opening an account without financial education first​"

One of the highlights of this workshop was certainly Maria Antonieta Paz Rotunno's presentation. She focused on the challenge that it is to financially include Mexicans repatriated from the US. Through WSBI's member BANSEFI, the programme Somos Mexicanos assists and offers financial products and services to the many repatriates. To make this programme work, Paz said: “From a development bank perspective, one cannot talk about savings and opening an account without financial education first. It is the main pillar and we need to work with people throughout their whole life".

The third and last panel featured Laura Nuñez and Ana Cristina Silva. They presented the results of their study, supported by Cecabank, showing the key role played by the education system together with financial institutions to empower citizens to make decisions in an increasingly complex financial environment. They recalled that Spanish households perceive their knowledge of available investment instruments to be low, and that “among the many barriers to investment in Spain, scandals, corruption and the financial crises are the main ones". Finally, Luis Sanchez-Barrios discussed financial literacy programmes in Colombia, focusing on the vulnerability of undergraduate students.

In his closing speech, WSBI-ESBG Managing Director Chris De Noose reminded the audience of the World Savings Day, to promote and increase public awareness of the importance of savings all over the world. It will be celebrated in Brussels this year, on October 26th. As an echo to what had been said all along the workshop, and in view of the World Savings Day, De Noose concluded: “Our future starts with savings!".


 

Photos ©Pablo Moreno (2017)
(1) 
Fernando Tejada, Director of the Market Conduct and Claims Department at Bank of Spain;  José María Méndez, Director General of Cecabank; Gloria Caballero, Deputy Director of the Financial Education Area at CNMV (Spanish Securities and Exchange Commission) 
(2) Panel 1: moderator Mónica MaloRobert Muschalla, Thomas Ruoss, Yolanda Blasco
(3) Panel 2: Mónica MaloJanette Rutterford, María Antonieta Paz
(4) Panel 3: Mónica Malo​, Ana Cristina Silva, Laura Nuñez, Luis Sanchez-Barrios





Financial education; Financial inclusion