I read an interesting article last week on how the Church of England was about to hit back at payday lenders by offering financial advice in church. The Church Credit Union Network, chaired by former FSA boss Sir Hector Sants, will encourage people to use a credit union, which is chaired by former FSA boss Sir Hector Sants, as an alternative to firms such as Wonga.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has said he wants to put payday lenders out of business while Bishop of Stepney Adrian Newman told the BBC: “You can either whinge about the Wongas of this world or provide an attractive alternative.”
Payday loans have a reputation of being a very expensive way to borrow money and can have a negative impact on future borrowing through banks. So it is a positive step for borrowers to be able to look at alternative methods, whether credit unions, budgeting loans or bank overdrafts.
What more can be done? There are so many organisations today which provide debt advice and help, whether online or face-to- face. With so many young adults being targeted by payday loan companies, this raises once more the issue of financial education in schools. Personal finance will be included in the national curriculum from September, featuring in mathematics and citizenship lessons.
But are we doing enough to help young adults understand how to manage their money more wisely?
In 2012, Moneysavingexpert.com commissioned a study with the Centre for Economics and Business Research on the cost implications of a lack of financial education. It found that our lack of knowledge, about everything from credit cards to pensions, costs UK taxpayers over £3.4bn a year.
It also found that financial education could reduce unemployment by up to 10 per cent, save £1.8bn a year on subsidising those in retirement, cut personal debt by £716m a year and save consumers £244m on misselling.
We know attitudes to money are formed early, often as young as seven (according to the Money Advice Service), so it follows that guidance at an earlier age will start to provide greater awareness. This is particularly important as the average age when children start to purchase items online is getting younger.
Over time, developing financial skills and knowledge through the school curriculum will inform attitudes and, hopefully, drive positive long-term behaviour towards personal finance.
When I talk to students from The Financial Adviser School, what shines through is their desire to help clients with their financial issues and planning their future. But they are also united in their opinion that teaching the key issues around personal financial planning is vital for young adults.
Lisa Winnard is HR director at Sesame Bankhall Group