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The need for personal financial education


There is now a growing amount of feeling and of evidence that the general level of financial literacy in the country must be improved substantially. This is the only way that individuals are going to be in a position to manage financially through their lives and into retirement and, more immediately, out of the situations which have been caused by the recession and, to put it mildly, by the extremely relaxed attitude people have taken towards saving and indeed basic financial housekeeping over the recent past.

We are, by no means, alone in this view. Just as the global financial re-adjustments have taken their toll across the board so the realisation that there exists an enormous lack of knowledge and confidence in anything pertaining to personal financial matters has also hit many countries, pretty much simultaneously. And they are beginning to do something about it.

The question is “Where do you start?”

In the long term the place has to be at school level, and individuals have to be kitted out from the very beginning to meet life’s various challenges.

But how do we address the problem as it stands right now? There are many adults who are having to think through the implications of their own life planning; with children, schooling, housing, retirement, elderly relatives, care costs and so on all needing to be brought into the mix. Superimposed on this is the emerging awareness that life is going to go on for longer than we had previously thought and that we’re all going to have to come to some kind of a view about the balance between the working and non-working portions that we are planning for. The notion of retirement, as such, will be increasingly seen as redundant.

For those older workers who are already quite a way through their working lives the potential to review and revise decisions previously made may be extremely limited. And we are now likely to be facing a period of acute and extended austerity if we are not to saddle future generations with an intolerable financial burden.

Gradually crystallising is the recognition that the most suitable place for this financial education to take place is within the work environment. Some far-sighted organisations are already putting schemes in place but, for those who are not yet, they should recognise that there exist enormous benefits, all ways round, in introducing some form of general financial education for their employees.





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