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Financial education 04 Oct 2018

BBVA convenes 200 experts from 16 countries in Buenos Aires to discuss the challenges of financial education

Leading financial education experts and researchers gathered together in Buenos Aires to attend the second edition of the BBVA EduFin Summit. Over the course of two days, guests discussed the importance of financial literacy as a lever to promote the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The 200 participants shared success stories and examples to illustrate progress and to underline the challenges that the sector is facing.

Gonzalo Verdomar, Head of Institutional Relations at BBVA Francés, the institution hosting the event, delivered the event’s opening speech and welcomed guests and speakers. Institutional support was represented by Carolina Castro, Executive Sherpa of the B20, and Javier Tarulla, Deputy Secretary of Teaching Careers and Professional Training of the Ministry of Education of the Government of the City of Buenos Aires, who spoke about “retracing paths, as required to keep thinking about the future.” They both agreed on the importance of public-private collaboration to underpin the links between education – and more specifically, financial education – and the productive and economic system.

The second edition of the BBVA EduFin Summit focused on the inclusive agenda of the United Nations SDG, opening a debate and analyzing the relationship between financial education and the achievement of the development goals in the near future. “We live in the age of opportunity. Technology empowers people and democratizes progress and well-being. It’s in our hands to make the most of it,” said Antoni Ballabriga. The Global Head of Responsible Business at BBVA also spoke about the commitment of the banking sector: “For BBVA, being one of the 28 banks that are collaborating with the UN is essential. In Paris, we’ll announce a new set of principles intended to engage world banks in the fight against climate change.”

Financial education as a tool to fight poverty

Claudio González-Vega, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the BBVA Microfinance Foundation, took the floor to explain the Foundation’s commitment to the promotion of financial education and literacy as a way to help the two million vulnerable entrepreneurs that it supports in Latin America. “43 percent of our credit customers haven’t completed primary education. In 2017 alone, we’ve trained over 420,000 people.”

Also, he underscored the role of technology in opening new educational paths, such as the Microfinance Campus, the BBVA Microfinance Foundation’s digital platform, “which has delivered more than 1.7 million teaching hours.”

Round table during the first session of the BBVA EduFin Summit 2018

The round tables during the first day of the summit focused on how financial education can contribute to the achievement of three specific Sustainable Development Goals: Quality Education (SDG4), Gender Equality (SDG5) and Innovation and Infrastructures (SDG9). The panelists shared some examples of good practices across the world. Hilde Elisabeth Johansen, advisor at Finance Norway, explained how, in her country, “while 90 percent of people use digital channels, 25-30 percent don’t know what inflation is.” Ana Leoni, Superintendent for Education at ANBIMA (Brazilian Association of Financial Institutions and Capital Markets), noted that “Brazil was the first country in America to establish a national strategy on financial education.”

On the panel devoted to gender equality, two of its members shared their very powerful testimonials: Beatriz Nofal, member of the Argentine Council for Institutional Relations, defined financial inclusion as “a key factor for the economic empowerment of women, ending poverty, inclusion growth and development.” And Ghetna Gala Singa, founder of the Rural Bank of India, recounted how a group of illiterate women created a bank in India.

The first day of the event concluded with a video address by Olivier Guersent, Director-General for Financial Services of the European Commission, who emphasized the importance of the financial industry’s involvement in the achievement of the SDG, focusing on the promotion of financial education and sustainable finances. “It is the combination of education and high quality information that empowers consumers and investors to make the right choices for sustainable development,” explained Guersent.

The challenges and opportunities of longevity

“Longevity is a signal coming from the future that we don’t know how to interpret.” This was the opening statement of José Antonio Herce‘s presentation during the second day of the summit. The Associate Director at AFI (International Financial Analysts) went over some of the challenges that longevity is posing, including the need for more and better financial planning to avoid compromising our well-being. “We’ve fallen quite behind in terms of what the current status of longevity requires,” he said.

The debate on age and social well-being is shining the spotlight on the importance of financial health in people’s lives. This was the core topic of a round table that called for a common methodology to measure financial health and progress towards defining impact metrics.

To conclude, the five winning researchers of the “Expressions of Interest” initiative by the BBVA’s Center for Financial Education and Capabilities, took the floor to offer an update on how their research is progressing in the form of a Peka Chuka presentation format (each presentation consisting of 20 slides shown for 20 seconds each).

Closing and conclusions

José Manuel González-Páramo, Executive Member of the Board, Head of Global Economics, Regulation and Public Affairs at BBVA, delivered the event’s closing speech.. After greeting and thanking Soledad Acuña, Minister of Education of the Government of the City of Buenos Aires, and Daniel Funes de Rioja, Chairman of the B20; González-Páramo went on to underscore the importance of financial education, regardless of age, and how it is everyone’s responsibility to promote it: from public and private authorities, to academic institutions.

BBVA EduFin held its first edition last year, and aims to become the world’s most prominent forum on financial education and literacy.” And it is with this aim that BBVA Group has been working since 2008, investing a total of $86 million to educate 11 million people and 171,000 small and medium sized enterprises. Also, he stressed the significance of the creation of BBVA’s Center for Financial Education and Capabilities, which he chairs and  which is the organization that promotes the BBVA EduFin Summit. This year we celebrate its second edition, and I hope to see you again next year, wherever it ends up taking place, to keep working to promote a topic as vital as financial education,” he said.

To cap off the event, José Manuel González-Páramo shared his insights into the link between financial education and the SDG, saying that financial education can contribute to the achievement of several of the goals: ending poverty, improving health and well-being, promoting high-quality education and gender equality, as well as fostering innovation and the development of infrastructures.

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