Why a strong financial literacy strategy is vital for Gen Z

Parents, students, schools, financial institutions and government bodies need to collaborate to help youth learn smart money skills

A good financial education strategy involves going to schools, colleges and universities and delivering a programme that covers all the basics of personal finance. Alamy
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Enough has been spoken, written and preached about the dire need to get Generation Z financially educated.

We have the research, the white papers and tonnes of empirical evidence pointing to the importance and life-changing nature of this skill.

The consequences of ignoring this crucial aspect of “adulting” preparations are widely known and feared.

It is time to accelerate to the next step — to stop admiring the problem and to work on crafting a strategy that effectively deals with this seemingly intractable issue.

Not just any strategy. A strategy that is worthy of the future generation and all that is at stake if we don’t act thoughtfully and intentionally.

This goes beyond merely creating apps, putting up content on websites or simply running hour-long awareness sessions that barely scratch the surface of this transformative skill.

Instead, it involves going to schools, colleges and universities and delivering a programme that covers all the basics of personal finance.

It involves trained and experienced educators curating discussions and establishing the emotional connections necessary for true learning.

There is new research that shows that in-person instruction is more effective in changing behaviour than gamified or digital instruction, especially over the long term.

And the only worthy solution will be one that is effective in the long term.

The scale and neglect of the financial illiteracy problem necessitates wide-scale collaboration among various stakeholders — parents, schools, students, financial institutions and government bodies.

With collaboration as the bedrock principle, we can then build on a strategy that has the following three elements.

Standards

It is said that anything worth doing is worth doing well. So, it is imperative that any financial education initiative aimed at Gen Z is modelled on global quality standards.

Depth, nuance, sophistication and simplicity should be the key considerations. Real value needs to be delivered.

And it is not only the content that needs to be considered here. Equally important are the standards of delivery, making sure that the educators involved have the expertise and experience in teaching youngsters.

Another essential aspect to examine is the ethical standards of the initiative.

It is vital that the initiative is not used to market financial products to youngsters.

Many of the current initiatives fail on this important metric and governments around the world are beginning to clamp down on this by legislating against it.

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An initiative that benefits only a couple of dozen students isn’t going to cut it. The strategy needs to allow for scale and touch the lives of thousands of students
Marilyn Pinto, founder of KFI Global

Scale

A worthwhile financial education strategy needs to be scalable.

An initiative that benefits only a couple of dozen students is not going to cut it. The strategy needs to allow for scale and touch the lives of thousands of students.

The scaling up of the initiative requires resources, both capital and human.

This is no small ask — getting an initiative to scale up without compromising on the quality of the initiative or the quantifiable aspects of it is a formidable challenge, but one that is imperative to surmount.

Scaling up also requires a road map, which details how best to use resources to create deep social impact.

Sustainability

A financial education strategy that is deemed successful will have to be one that has sustainability at its heart.

Sporadic, intermittent, topical efforts have no place in a worthy strategy. This would be a colossal waste of time and resources.

Consistency should be key here. Consistency shows commitment. Consistency enables the initiative to reap the effects of compounding, slowly but surely creating deep social impact.

A sustainable strategy in this regard should focus on initiatives that build deep, collaborative relationships with the stakeholders involved.

This is important because sustainability will be a key driver of the success metrics.

This is not going to be easy. Interweaving the elements of standards, scale and sustainability into a financial education initiative is bold and demanding.

But this is what a worthy long-term financial education solution will look like. One that will positively affect the lives and success of the next generation.

The sooner we start putting it in place, the better off Gen Z will be.

Marilyn Pinto is the founder of KFI Global

Updated: December 13, 2022, 5:39 AM