I woke up yesterday very excited (well perhaps excited is a step too far) and the reason well simply financial education was being discussed both on Radio 5 and in parliament. At the end of the day I felt demoralised and down beat. The reason for this was just the frustration of what is going on:
- Martin Lewis who I respect talks about products and fees and seems to have no idea what financial planning is and how it will be paid for. I will expand on this later.
- The debate which everyone seems to say was fantastic seemed to be an academic debate correlating maths to financial education, and then getting bogged down in the issues of debt.
- Everyone was patting themselves on the back about what a great day it was, well if only twenty or so MPs turn up to debate this “important” issue then it is clear it is not high on the agenda.
- And finally I didn’t see any journalists tweeting about this really important event.
There were some tweets which interested me:
“….discussed this at length. View is if you can't enthuse kids with Eng lit and history, what hope FS?”
“If only MPs took as much interest... long-term pay-back + MP: sadly does not compute”
“I am sure lots of us would volunteer to help and go into schools to talk and educate #financialeducation”
So I just want to discuss whether this was a damp squid or a step in the right direction.
When you consider the success of any popular uprising they only work when everyone comes together, it appears to me there are many people who want to see this happen but actually many (like myself) are working alone to see change and actually to make a change we need join together to make it happen.
A popular uprising has to come up from the grass roots, when we see MPs debating about teachers teaching about financial education and changing the curriculum I think they are missing the point, actually you need people from the coal face to go into schools to educate. As I said before it doesn’t have to cost money there are plenty of people who would do this for free.
We need to be clear what we are trying to do and keep it simple, I believe that teaching financial management to year 5 and 6 in primary school is the first place to start then you can build in financial planning and investment education to secondary school, colleges and universities.
And what is important is that this free education is not about furthering a brand because this is wrong and people become suspicious of this.
So some ideas:
- It would be good to set up a central database of all volunteers who would be prepared to come out to schools to talk about financial management, financial planning and investing
- For these people to come together regionally and make contact with schools, colleges and universities to be able to come in and run free sessions without pressures of exams, just practical straightforward advice
And the benefits well as one tweet said and I have said so many times, we have a generation growing up now who have a “need now” attitude and we need to crush that before it gets out of control. If Children think they can have the latest gizmos by using credit then we need to change that mind-set.
Going back to Martin Lewis’ comment – the reason why I get frustrated at this is because it shows a lack of understanding. If someone comes to me and says they want a BMW 5 Series and I say give me fifty pounds and I will find one then you will say well actually I will do it myself.
But if I say that I will take my fee from the money you have to buy the car then the picture is different. So for example, if I sit down and find out what you want and why you want it and what money you have then I can deliver that solution. That solution might be a bike and not a car and of the £1,000 you spend on the bike £50 comes to me then you might look at it in a different way.
So going back to the debate this isn’t an academic debate that sinks into a marshy mess there is an army of volunteers willing to come to schools and train children on financial education. This will cost the government nothing and actually benefit the country in the long run. Was the debate a damp squid well only you can decide on that but if we really want change then that needs to happen from the ground and not in the houses of parliament.