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Lisa Winnard: Teaching finance in schools is essential

The Financial Adviser School recently teamed up with the University of Huddersfield to work with its business studies year two students and facilitate lectures on various aspects of personal financial planning.

This partnership will give students a deeper insight into the importance and relevance of saving and investments in both business and personal life.

We believe that personal financial planning is a very important module for those wishing to enter the financial services industry – so supporting these students was a natural decision.

One of our trainers, David Trowell, told me that it was a fantastic experience for him too as the students were engaged and very keen to learn and he even received a round of applause from the students following his lecture.

We fully support the view that personal financial planning is fundamental for all young people; not just those students undertaking finance and business based studies at university. For many years, the Government has been urged to include money matters in the education curriculum within schools, and claims have been made that the absence of such education in the past has cost the UK economy. recently commissioned a study with the Centre for Economics and Business Research into the cost of a lack of financial education. It concluded that our lack of knowledge, about everything from credit cards to pensions, has cost the UK over £3.4bn.

Whilst over 20 countries, including Japan and the United States, teach personal finance in schools, the UK has lagged behind.

The good news is that from September 2014 the UK will join this list, which means that we will now engage young people at an early age through a new curriculum recently published by the education secretary. This means that financial education will be included in mathematics and citizenship lessons.

Many people in the financial advice profession hold strong views of instilling a savings culture back into the UK. This would provide major benefits for individuals and families through better money management. It would help both the economy and society by enabling people to be more financially aware and utilising this awareness to plan for their retirement, whilst ensuring financial protection for their families and also steering away from debt.

We welcome the introduction of more financial education from an early age, to enable people to manage their money more effectively throughout their life.

We know that attitudes to money are formed early, so it follows that guidance at an earlier age will start to provide greater awareness.

Over time, developing skills and knowledge through the school curriculum will inform attitudes and hopefully drive positive long-term behaviours towards personal finance.

The introduction of financial education in schools is becoming even more important, as research tells us that today’s consumers are getting progressively younger. I recently read that 10 is the average age that children start to purchase items online.

Meanwhile, a survey conducted by Personal Finance Education Group found that over 75 per cent of seven to 11 year olds are already saving for the future, and that 54 per cent of teenagers are interested in learning about saving. Whilst these are positive indicators, education is certainly needed about savings, as research also showed that on average 70 per cent of 16 to 25 year olds are not contributing to a pension.

Perhaps this is not surprising given the current trends and attitudes amongst UK adults towards personal finance, however, this is why it is so important to seize this opportunity and improve the savings culture for future generations.

Lisa Winnard is HR director at Sesame Bankhall Group



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