Yesterday morning, on behalf of Money Life Skills, I presented recommendations to the federal Task Force on Financial Literacy at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto.
The Task Force on Financial Literacy was appointed by the federal Minister of Finance in June 2009 with the objective to “provide advice and recommendations … on a national strategy to strengthen the financial literacy of Canadians,” with a final report due at the end of this year.
As part of its public consultation process that ends this week, the group heard from well-known organizations that put forth a variety of suggestions including: establishing a centralized clearinghouse for financial information, focusing on low-income families that have the most need as well as delivering financial literacy modules or embedding this content in to existing courses in the school system.
We offered a fresh perspective to the panel by delivering the following three recommendations:
1. Right knowledge is key: Empowering Canadians to make confident financial decisions requires them to have the right knowledge. The information and tools provided to individuals, couples and families must be customized to their needs and made affordable.
2. Separate decision making from product: By offering private financial education workshops, we can provide Canadians with unbiased information that is accurate and appropriate. By separating the knowledge from the sale of a financial product, individuals can make objective, rational decisions suitable for their financial and life context.
3. Focus on twenty- and thirty-somethings: Although educating students in schools will benefit future generations, Canadians in their twenties and thirties require financial help now. Folks in this age segment experience a succession of life events that require them to make decisions about money, such as starting a full-time job, getting married, buying a house, buying a car and saving for children’s education.
Our presentation was supplemented by a formal written summary submitted to the Task Force on April 30, 2010.
Participate: What are your thoughts on improving financial literacy? How can we empower people to make confident financial decisions?
I look forward to your input!