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Blog: Improving Financial Literacy From the Ground Up

As many as 90% of business failures around the world are due to poor financial management. Not marketing or labour problems, but simple, old-fashioned bad management. So how do we resolve this problem? We go back to basics and concentrate on financial literacy from an early age.

 

Too many individuals, young and old, simply do not have a basic understanding of things like budgets, inflation and interest rates. Although it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to possess sophisticated financial knowledge, some financial know-how is essential for making important life decisions related to money.

 

Building personal financial capabilities early in life can give people the foundation for financial well being in the future. Schools are an important channel to improve financial literacy. Studies in the U.S. have shown that financial education, when done properly, leads to an improvement in financial behaviour.

 

But there is still a long way to go. According to a survey of 13 million U.S. high school students, only one in six received mandatory financial education. And only 17 states require personal financial content to be included in educational curricula.  

 

Of course, people want to make good financial decisions that set them up for success, but many have never had the opportunity to learn how. For instance, a significant number of American adults can’t pass a basic financial literacy test with three questions on stocks, interest rates and inflation.

Here’s a sample question:

 

Suppose you had $100 in a savings account and the interest rate was 2% per year. After five years, how much do you think you would have in the account if you left the money to grow?

 

  • More than $102

  • Exactly $102

  • Less than $102

 

Although 43% earned scores of three, meaning they correctly answered all the questions, and another 36% received scores of two, 21% got only one or zero questions right. Across all households, the average score was 2.2. Considering that the questions are relatively simple, those scores demonstrate why financial literacy needs to be prioritized by governing bodies, individuals and organizations throughout the world. (The correct answer in the sample question, by the way, is more than $102.)

 

In Canada, the Ontario Working Group on Financial Literacy concluded that students need to be financially literate to make more-informed choices in a complex and fast-changing financial world. Financial literacy education provides a critical set of lifelong skills, the report added. To that end, the group recommended that teachers be given professional training and resources to increase their knowledge of financial literacy topics that can be passed on to students. In addition, the report suggests that parents and families be invited to participate in the development of their children’s financial literacy education.

 

Financial literacy can be a hard sell for educators, who may not see the importance of adding it to the curriculum. But it is an important skill to help set young people up for success throughout their lives.

Value Added Services

Seeds of Change: Women Entrepreneurs and the Wellness Sector

Women entrepreneurs are drawn to the wellness and healthy living sector. As consumers of every generation increasingly focus on health and wellness, female entrepreneurs and business leaders will be big beneficiaries.

Women-Owned Businesses Soar

Each day, women launch around 850 new businesses in the U.S., and the number of firms headed by women has increased by more than 40% since 2007. Women are now the majority owners of an estimated 11.6 million businesses in the country—39% of all U.S. businesses — according to the 2017 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.

Healthy Growth in Wellness Sector

The growth in women-owned companies is marching in unison with another major trend — the rapid expansion of the healthy living sector. According to data from the Global Wellness Institute, the wellness industry grew by 10.6% worldwide between 2013 and 2015 and accounts for revenue of $3.72 trillion on a global basis. It is now a key part of the second-largest sector of women-owned businesses in the U.S., following services such as nail and hair salons and pet services.

See the full article of CI executive director Denise Bedell’s latest work for ThisIsCapitalism.com:

Seeds of Change: How Women Owners Are Driving Business Growth in the Wellness Sector

3 Ways That a Good Narrative Can Help Asset and Wealth Managers Connect With Their Clients

3 Ways a Strong Narrative Can Help Asset and Wealth Managers Connect With Their Clients

A strong narrative in communications with clients can help asset and wealth managers to strengthen investment rationales, increase buy-in and nourish relationships.

Narratives drive markets. If that was ever in doubt, consider the experience of the past year.

Two shock votes, for Britain to leave the European Union and for Donald Trump to become president, could easily have derailed markets – particularly after a long bull run, with valuations stretched, and an era of accommodative monetary policy coming to an end. And indeed they did upset markets, but only very briefly.

After sharp falls on both occasions, a different market narrative took hold: that the new regime would be positive for businesses. That the market has been able to rally so strongly despite the nature of this new regime being so poorly defined, and without much change in the fundamentals, emphasizes the importance of the narrative itself as the driving force.

Yet narratives tend to be absent from asset and wealth managers’ communications. They may have pundits who can comment on the story of the day in the financial media, but their own communications material typically focuses instead on reporting recent performance in the blandest manner possible or perfunctory remarks on macro events.

This is a huge lost opportunity. Those in the investment industry that embrace narrative techniques will benefit in three important ways:

1. Strengthen Investment Rationales

First, use them to strengthen investment rationales and make them resonate. Behind every stock there is a story; tell it. This will often speak to a familiar challenge or popular theme: how is the healthcare company you own placed to ease the burden of ageing demographics, or how has your technology name built an unassailable market position? Elaborating on the investment case through a narrative will help your client understand it.

2. Offer Solutions, Not Products

Second, use them to frame your investment strategies as solutions rather than mere products. The fear of failing to meet a savings goal is pervasive and the anxiety associated with market volatility is palpable. But if the purpose of a fund is explained beyond a return target or narrow mandate – is it there to maximize clients’ wealth before retirement, to pay them an income in retirement, or to smooth their path to retirement? – investors will fuse it with their own objectives rather than view it as a simple interchangeable tool.

3. Fortify Relationships

Strong narratives strengthen relationships between asset managers and intermediaries — and just as importantly, between intermediaries and their end clients. The more clearly clients understand an investment case, the more they can internalize it and increase their conviction in it.

At a time when active management is under such intense pressure from the passive industry, forging this connection with investors is absolutely vital.