On 14 June, McGuinness Institute interns Jeremy Todd and Susie Krieble attended the 2013 Financial Literacy Summit in Auckland hosted by the Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income. Although New Zealand has come out on top in a study comparing average levels of financial literacy across different countries, experts emphasised that we cannot afford to become complacent as there is still plenty of work to be done.
The day began with speakers Diane Maxwell, the newly appointed Retirement Commissioner, and, Sir Jerry Mateparae. They both emphasised that upon leaving that evening, attendants should be motivated to enact change and not rest upon purely talking about what could be done. Having had more than a week to reflect on the Summit a few key messages have resonated with us.
The overarching theme of the day was that not only is financial literacy critical for overcoming poverty and improving our overall wellbeing but it is important for our national long-term fiscal position. An educated public will be more likely to put money into savings or investments creating an important capital base for economic growth. The most powerful quote of the day was from Sir Jerry, originally by Annamaria Lusardi: “just as it was not possible to live in an industrialised society without print literacy … it is not possible to live in today’s world without being financially literate.”
Air Commodore, Robert Brown discussed the duty of care that employers have to their staff and his initiative at the Royal Australian Defence Force which teaches their employees about financial literacy. They have had incredible success with improving financial literacy of their personnel, which led to an award at the national Australian Money Smart Week.
Gerri Walsh of US financial regulator FINRA talked about the benefits of having an organisation that readily made available information on financial advisors and provided investor education resources. The insight into investor education also exposed the other side of financial literacy – the need for the advisory profession to practice due diligence. Gerri also touched on another major theme which was the idea that it is not just policy makers and commissioners who have a stake in this, but communities, schools, businesses and the rest of civil society and therefore a co-ordinated approach is necessary.
This tied in well with the presentation by Robyn Scott, the Education Manager for the Commission, who reported back on the success of a workshop on teaching financial literacy involving teachers and community leaders. She also encouraged everyone to register for Money Week.
We learnt that the challenge for teaching is two-fold, it is both coating broccoli in chocolate as Gerri Walsh explained (making a boring subject interesting) and engaging teachers with the resources to the point that they are comfortable in teaching them.
One of the key themes to emerge from the LongTermNZ workshop run by the Institute in December 2012 was a strong desire from participants to improve financial and civics education at a primary and secondary level. The Summit was a fantastic opportunity to hear from experts, business leaders and civil servants who share this desire.
Financial literacy quiz victors Ashleigh Cox (from Waikato University) with Susie Krieble and Jeremy Todd. It was great to see Ashleigh Cox at the Summit – Ashleigh was a participant at LongTermNZ and the recipient of the Jan Lee Martin Science Meets Humanities Scholarship