When Should Financial Education Start?

It’s quite obvious that the more technologically complex the financial ecosystem becomes, the more the public need to be educated on it. Open banking in the UK is now three years old and has more than two millions users. However, multiple surveys over the past year have shown that a lot of individuals and businesses are still largely unaware of its existence. Many that have heard of it lack an understanding of its benefits or drawbacks. Even fewer know that data sharing is its main ingredient and that this is totally within the control of the consumer themselves. With artificial intelligence and the internet-of-things also able to have a positive impact on the daily financial lives of people, education is of increasing important for mass adoption of products enabled by these technologies. But how and when should this information be disseminated? Workshops and booklets are only useful to those who actively seek this knowledge and are more suitable to small businesses. For information on new financial technologies to reach the public, it needs to permeate their everyday life and be absorbed passively. Traditional banks and media outlets have a role to play in this. 

However, for the next generation, schools should also have a crucial part in this financial education for a number of reasons. Firstly, banks and fintechs are designing more and more products for children and teenagers so it’s imperative they understand how to manage their finances with the support of their parents from a young age. Secondly, the complexity of products needs more financial literacy than those that existed in the past and this is not a quick process. Thirdly, attracting talent into the future banking sector means encouraging young people to study financial technology at university and this is far easier if they have been exposed to such subjects during school. Since even basic financial education is only just starting to be considered in schools, anything more formal complicated is far from being a part of the syllabus. But it is something that ought to be considered in more depth. Banks, fintechs and educators can work together to create programmes either inside or outside the curriculum that not only to provide information but to create a new generation of technologically savvy individuals who contribute ideas to the ever-growing financial ecosystem.