Today, there is much discussion about sustainability and social impact. It is important to consider how these concepts can also be fostered through financial education. Financial education proves to be a crucial aspect of everyone’s daily lives, regardless of their interests or professions. With a solid foundation in financial education, we can achieve significant objectives with high social value. These objectives include promoting social inclusion, reducing inequalities (such as gender inequalities), protecting savers, and educating both younger and older generations. Financial education possesses the power to generate not only economic potential but, more importantly, social potential.
Governments should recognize, seize, and enhance this potential. In a world where the economy, especially finance, plays a primary role, it becomes vital for your state to support interventions that promote an ever-increasing level of financial literacy among the population. To address this issue effectively, the government must take a targeted and well-informed approach, going beyond political considerations. Financial education is a matter that impacts everyone equally, and it is essential to anticipate emerging needs rather than merely reacting to them.
From a regulatory standpoint, the concept of financial education gained traction as one of the state’s responses following the resolution of four banks with regional significance in late 2015, which caused harm to thousands of savers and businesses, some irreparably. The initial bill, in which I had the privilege of participating, was introduced in 2015 and later merged into subsequent Budget Laws. Over the years, it has steadily gained strength, with its inclusion in the solid projections of the 2023 Economic and Financial Document and recent bills, demonstrating a consistent and upward trajectory. One of the most remarkable and forward-thinking developments is the assignment of promoting financial education in schools to the Ministry of Education. Finally. This long-awaited step is certainly commendable. Starting training courses at the elementary school level is particularly noteworthy as it equips young students and their families with valuable tools. This sets in motion a virtuous cycle, aiming to create generations that are increasingly empowered and aware of the importance of financial education. Looking ahead, it would be desirable to involve all universities across Italy. Leveraging their resources and expertise, they can provide training and initiatives for the entire population, extending beyond just the student community.
However, one crucial aspect to consider is the coordination of these initiatives. On one hand, it is essential to implement diverse actions tailored to specific target audiences, based on their interests and age groups. On the other hand, there is a need to establish a common language to ensure effective communication and understanding. Bridging the generation gap is crucial in this historical period where “digital natives” coexist with segments of the population that may be less educated, less proficient, and less interested in utilizing available technologies. The key issue is that numerous initiatives have emerged over the years, mainly driven by private players in the financial sector. However, these initiatives often run the risk of disorienting rather than guiding the recipients or being ineffective altogether.
Many individuals have felt compelled to contribute, which is a positive thing. However, some lack expertise, while others approach it in a self-centered manner, solely focused on attracting new clients. Moreover, there has been overlap and competition among different initiatives, resulting in the dispersion of valuable resources that could have benefited the community. Ideally, it would be optimal to maximize and channel these resources towards a common program, aligning them with the goals outlined by the state. Achieving this requires increasingly effective coordination of initiatives and a more stringent selection process based on high-quality standards, ensuring tangible benefits for the recipients. By following this approach, financial education could soon become a right, an integral part of every individual’s journey, rather than an exception.
Mauro Milillo, Chapter Leader Milan.