congreso-edufinet-2017

Unicaja's Edufinet Project presents the conclusions of the International Congress on Financial Education, which has gathered nearly 400 participants

The Edufinet Project, promoted by Unicaja Banco and Fundación Unicaja, has presented the conclusions of the International Congress on Financial Education ‘Realities and Challenges’, held in Malaga on 22 and 23 November. The conclusions cover the ten thematic areas of the programme (Level of financial literacy; Didactics and methodology; Effects of financial education programmes; Good practices in financial education programmes; Decision-making. The psychology of financial decisions; Financial education and entrepreneurship; Economic analysis of the effectiveness of financial education projects; Economic and financial knowledge in the educational system. International experience; Financial education and the digitalization challenge and Financial inclusion) and the roundtable discussion about financial education and the media.

29 NOV 2018

11 Min reading

The Congress, sponsored by the Foundation of Savings Banks (Funcas), has gathered nearly 400 people, what reflects the interest in financial education. Of the total of participants, around 250 were attendants to the Congress, more than 60 were speakers or moderators, and over 70 took part in the supplementary activities.

 

Participants in the Congress included representatives from national and international institutions such as the Bank of Spain, CNMV, Funcas, Cecabank, AEB or the EU Economic and Social Committee or the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (Unitar); professors from national and international universities and business schools; analysts, auditors, financial advisors and consultants; representatives from business associations, as well as journalists specialized in economic information.

 

The Edufinet Project, promoted by Unicaja Banco and Fundación Unicaja, has presented the conclusions of the International Congress on Financial Education ‘Realities and Challenges’, held in Malaga on 22 and 23 November. The conclusions cover the ten thematic areas of the programme (Level of financial literacy; Didactics and methodology; Effects of financial education programmes; Good practices in financial education programmes; Decision-making. The psychology of financial decisions; Financial education and entrepreneurship; Economic analysis of the effectiveness of financial education projects; Economic and financial knowledge in the educational system. International experience; Financial education and the digitalization challenge and Financial inclusion) and the roundtable discussion about financial education and the media.

 

This event, sponsored by the Foundation of Savings Banks (Funcas), has gathered nearly 400 people, what reflects the interest in financial education. Of the total of participants, around 250 were attendants to the Congress, more than 60 were speakers or moderators, and over 70 took part in the supplementary activities of 20 and 21 November (behavioural economics exercise and five workshops).

 

Participants in the Congress included representatives from national and international institutions such as the Bank of Spain, CNMV, Funcas, Cecabank, AEB or the EU Economic and Social Committee or the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (Unitar); professors from national and international universities and business schools; analysts, auditors, financial advisors and consultants; representatives from business associations, as well as journalists specialized in economic information.

 

This Congress has been a meeting point for the main agents involved in financial education, to address topics such as the challenges faced by this disciple, actions to be implemented to boost it or the effectiveness of the existing training programmes.

 

Conclusions of the ten ssessions and of the roundtable discussion

 

The most significant conclusions of each one of the 10 sessions of the International Congress on Financial Education ‘Realities and Challenges’ and of the roundtable discussion are included below. These conclusions will published on the Congress’ website (www.edufinetcongress.com) and on Edufinet’s (www.edufinet.com). The Proceedings of the Congress will be published too.

 

1st session: ‘The level of financial literacy of the Spanish population after the financial crisis: an overview’ (Subject: Level of financial literacy)

 

The Spanish population struggles to answer basic financial and economic questions. However, the competences of the Spanish citizens are similar to those of the people in its surrounding countries. The level of competences also varies according to parameters as gender or level of education. There is much room for improvement in the knowledge of financial products by savers and investors, who, on the other hand, should have more capacity to assess the offers that they receive from providers and should pay more attention to the role of taxation associated to these financial products. Financial literacy, in addition to providing knowledge and competences, should also provide citizens with ‘temper’ to resist the economic cycle and not to be influenced by bullish or bearish markets in their financial decisions. Financial institutions should try to coordinate their efforts in financial literacy with the public authorities, as well as with private associations, such as those of consumers and users.

 

2nd Session: ‘Transmitting financial knowledge: methodology, stimuli to learning and areas for improvement’ (Subject: Didactics and methodology of financial education)

 

There is a certain lack of knowledge of basic concepts related to financial education among the citizens. These gaps may be mitigated by the application of the appropriate methodological approaches although, given the saturation of school curricula, a reflection should be made on how to take financial education to schools. Teachers must be able to put themselves in the position of students receiving financial education, in order to avoid falling in the so called ‘curse of knowledge’. Although the economic and financial aspects are closely related, the economic aspect is seen as essential for teaching financial contents. It is advisable to review the adequacy of the approaches based in transversality and in specialization for teaching financial knowledge. The impact of taxes is seen as an essential requirement in the assessment of financial decisions.

 

3rd Session: ‘Measuring the economic return to society of a financial education project: main variables to consider’ (Subject: Effects of financial education programmes)

 

The international empirical evidence confirms that financial literacy has a positive influence on the decrease of income inequalities and on the boost to the economic development. The identification of a positive relationship between the level of financial literacy and the levels of savings and indebtedness of families is noticed, as well as the relationship with financial inclusion and stability. In the particular case of Spain, a positive relationship has been identified between the level of financial competences and the holding of financial savings products, whereas the relationship is negative between the said level and banking financing instruments. One of the metrics to measure the economic and financial vulnerability is the time during which a family could subsist if it loses its main source of income and without losing assets such as housing.

 

4th Session: ‘A good way to transmit financial knowledge: ideas and teachings from the main actors in good practices in financial education’ (Subject: Good practices in financial education programmes)

 

The development of useful training actions in the life cycle of consumers is a priority, but the boost to those competences in other institutional agents is essential too. It is advisable to combine, through alliances, the participation of financial institutions in financial education programmes with the involvement of other social and institutional agents. Financial institutions play a significant role as providers of financial education programmes, due to the knowledge and competences of their employees –accredited, in general, according to recent regulatory developments as MiFID2- and to the capillarity of their network, although within their schemes of corporate social responsibility and avoiding any kind of conflicts of interest. Financial education programmes must transform a complex reality like financial reality into one within the reach of their audience. The clarity and simplicity of the language are therefore essential in this sense, as well as the use of methods which allow citizens to remember what they have learn and to apply it. The rigorous respect to the code of good practices in financial literacy, promoted by the Bank of Spain and the CNMV in 2016, is basic to overcome the informational asymmetry between the suppliers and users of financial services.

 

5th Session: ‘Is having a high level of financial knowledge enough to make a good financial decision? Financial literacy, cognitive bias and the influence of the environment’ (Subject: Making financial decisions. The psychology of financial decisions)

 

Behavioural Economics provide an essential perspective by revealing the influence of biases and mental shortcuts (heuristics) when making financial decisions. A higher financial knowledge may reduce the influence of cognitive biases and of emotional origin, despite the higher mental effort that implies for the person who must make the decision. Behavioural economics approach must be a basic component in financial education programmes, although the use of nudges for making decisions should be backed by regulations. Consequently, the limited rationality of individuals is a feature to be taken into account when establishing regulatory policies an in the protection of the financial consumer.

 

6th Session: ‘Do people with a higher level of financial knowledge have more possibilities of successfully launching a business?’ (Subject: Financial education an entrepreneurship)

 

Having financial knowledge may give some advantages to increase the success probabilities of entrepreneurs. By observing the importance of financial management for the control system of business management, we can obtain indirect evidence of the positive effect of financial literacy on entrepreneurial success. Financial knowledge represents an intangible that allows companies to get and maintain competitive sustainable advantages in the medium and long term.

 

7th Session: ‘How to measure the returns of a financial education project’ (Subject: Economic analysis of the effectiveness of financial education projects)

 

The empirical research addressed to the assessment of the effectiveness of financial education programmes are based on different methodological alternatives subject to limitations and exposed to possible biases. Therefore, methodological robustness is key to value the conclusions reached and, as a premise, the validity of the data used for estimations. In particular, we must be certain that the representative variables of the implemented training actions respond to adequate contents and to an effective use. Considering the previous, a series of international researches point towards a remarkable incidence of the level of financial literacy in financial conducts. With regard to the impact of financial education programmes in the level of acquired knowledge, the results are more controversial. The Spanish citizens, in general, tend to overestimate their own financial competences, what can make them not to assess sufficiently the offers from providers of financial services.

 

8th Session: ‘Economic and financial knowledge in educational curricula: how and when and how to start to teach them. A compared international experience’ (Subject: Economic and financial knowledge in the educational system/International experience)

 

A bidirectional disconnection is observed between the way that Economics and financial training are taught. This disconnection remains even in internationally renowned special centers. The lack of the study of financial topics may affect the training process of professionals related to the economic sector or to other sectors. The comparison of the position of economic and financial knowledge in the educational systems of European countries reflects a large diversity of practices between countries, and within them, between the different types of centers. There is a certain consensus on the convenience of having these contents included in the official curricula and to start teaching them from as soon as possible.

 

9th Session: ‘The influence of digitalization in the dissemination of financial knowledge: opportunities and challenges’ (Subject: Financial education and the digitalization challenge)

 

In general, new technologies provide benefits, but they also pose risks for citizens. With new players in the financial markets which are not covered by the umbrellas of the regulatory and supervisory schemes applicable to credit institutions, the protective role of financial literacy is enhanced. The financial sector is within a process of technological disruption that poses several challenges for financial education programmes. Therefore, it is unanimously agreed that financial education should expand to include digitalization.

 

10th Session: ‘The influence of financial education in financial inclusion: cause or consequence?’ (Subject: financial inclusion)

 

Financial inclusion is a phenomenon of stark contrasts between the different regions in the planet. Within each country, differences are noticed according to gender, level of education and participation in the labor market. The initiatives aimed to increase the financial literacy of citizens generate a very positive effect with regard to financial inclusion. Financial education, although not sufficient, is a necessary condition for the promotion of simple financial instruments, which are worthy for financial inclusion and which have proved to be key in the prosperity of individuals, families and communities. The UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, with its 17 SDG (Sustainable Development Goals), provides targets to be achieved by the authorities and particulars, such as financial inclusion (Targets 3 and 10 of Goal 8, for instance).

 

Roundtable discussion: ‘Financial education from the point of view of the media’

 

There are different points of view related to the role that the media may have in financial education. Anyway, the media intrinsically have a structural influence as vehicles of economic and financial information. This results in the need to differentiate clearly between facts, studies and opinions. It is observed that the level of financial and economic knowledge of citizens has room for improvement, although specialized information in those areas attracts, in general, their attention.

 

Edufinet Project, eleven years of financial education

 

The Edufinet Project launched in 2007 its Internet portal, fostered by Unicaja, with the collaboration of the Andalusia International University (UNIA, Universidad Internacional de Andalucía) and of the University of Malaga (UMA).

 

However, its development began in 2005 within Unicaja, which became one of the first financial institutions to launch such an initiative in Spain. Currently, 14 universities and more than ten business institutions and organization collaborate with this project.

 

Throughout its eleven years of history, it has received several awards, and over 127,600 people have participated in the different workshops, seminars, courses and conferences organized. 89,000 of them have participated through the Conferences on Financial Education for Young People. The website www.edufinet.com, has registered more than seven million visits, with consultations and access from nearly 180 countries.

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