Madrid and Mexico City hosted the 2022 EduFin summit, the annual financial summit organized by BBVA’s Center for Financial Education and Capabilities, which was held on September 29th and 30th. 25 experts from ten countries attended this international event, which has become a real benchmark in the field. Over 200 guests attended in person and over 1,600 watched via streaming. Throughout the event, participants discussed how digitization is revolutionizing financial education and propelling the inclusion of the most vulnerable.
BBVA Chair Carlos Torres Vila gave the opening remarks at the global event that marks the start of a month in which financial education is the protagonist in Spain, with the celebration of Financial Education Day on October 3rd.
In his welcome message, the BBVA Chair announced that in the framework of the Community Commitment, which includes a Global Financial Education Plan to develop specific training for customers and non-customers, the bank will double its initial commitment. “We are going to double the original target of training one million people, which we made in our Commitment, and make it possible for two million people to receive training in financial education.”
During his presentation, the BBVA Chair focused primarily on the importance of digitization in the financial education field, as a source of opportunities for quality development and financial inclusion, with greater access, and a supply of products that are more adapted to customers’ needs. “At BBVA, we are committed to and convinced of the combined effect of knowledge in terms of digitization together with financial education, which offers infinite opportunities to all of society, and especially to the most vulnerable.”
In addition, Carlos Torres Vila stressed the importance of financial education when it come to overcoming the challenge of integrating sustainability in financial decisions. “At BBVA, we are working hard to improve society’s knowledge and financial skills in terms of sustainability - not only including large investors, but also small savers, retail customers, entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations.”
BBVA Chair Carlos Torres Vila gave the opening remarks at BBVA EduFin Summit.
Financial education and resilience
Mairead McGuinness, Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability and Capital Markets Union at the European Commission, spoke of the importance of financial knowledge in order to make appropriate decisions and the need to protect European consumers, especially in a context marked by inflation and interest rate hikes. McGuinness, who participated with a pre-recorded video, emphasized the need to promote financial education to have a population that is more resilient in financial issues, especially in more vulnerable sectors: women, youth and older people. “Financial vulnerability and the lack of financial education are problems that complement each other.”
The European Commissioner praised BBVA’s initiative to create a financial education guide based on the Financial Competence Framework for Adults written by the European Commission and the OECD International Network on Financial Education (INFE), “BBVA is the torchbearer of financial education.” Furthermore, she announced the upcoming launch next year of a new European competence framework geared toward youth and children and a retail investment strategy to help European citizens participate in capital markets.
Mairead McGuinness, Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability and Capital Markets Union at the European Commission.
Digitization to improve financial education
The first round table tackled the value of financial education in the new digital financial environment. Moderated by Ana Rubio, Director of Financial Regulation at BBVA, Margarita Delgado, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Spain; Alejandra Kindelán, Chair of the Spanish Banking Association (AEB); and Alejandro Beltrán, founder of Buda.com participated in the discussion.
Participants in the first round table of the day shared important messages regarding the significance of digitization as a way to improve financial education and protect citizens so that they can accomplish their goals. “Most financial products are sold on digital channels, and they are not exempt from risks and responsibilities,” said Margarita Rubio. “Financial education and digitization should go hand in hand, one should not go without the other.”
Throughout the discussions, the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Spain underscored the need to provide training for more vulnerable groups, and on the risks of digital risks. “The Bank of Spain must supervise to ensure that the entire financial system is prepared to avoid cyber-risks,” she explained. “We have a lot of obligations when it comes to coordination, knowledge and information.” To address this challenge, Margarita Rubio recalled the importance of the upcoming European Regulation, the Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA). “It will be a challenge for everyone, and aims to simplify a very complex scenario.”
Meanwhile, Alejandra Kindelán defended the need to accompany customers in a permanent capacity building process. “Educating is protecting. The more education we have, the better we will be able to perform our operations and understand the world in which we move.”
Similarly, the Chair of the AEB recalled some of the organization’s initiatives designed to achieve this objective. Among them, Expert Click, a training program carried out in conjunction with Cibervoluntarios, which helps bring new technologies to older people to improve their quality of life, and Digital Financial Classroom, an educational platform created in collaboration with CECA and the National Union of Credit Unions (UNAAC), which received the Finance for Everyone award. These initiatives aim to support the goal of digitizing the economy to improve people’s lives. “When we talk about digitization, we are talking about inclusion, and for that reason, it is important to build digital skills because they mean security, autonomy, freedom and independence.”
Manuel Beltrán, founder of Buda.com, a company that operates in cryptocurrency markets in Chile, Colombia, Peru and Argentina, has advocated for a change in mentality in the sector. “The adult-centered vision of financial education needs to be eliminated. Just like other subjects, it can be taught in an educational context in classrooms. That is where we can find a transformative element.” Beltrán talked about how education generates wealth and the challenges facing Latin America to ensure that no one is left behind. One of them is connectivity (in Colombia approximately 53 percent of the population has access to an Internet connection, which is below average) and citizen awareness. “Finance needs to be part of everyday life.”
The ‘finfluencer’ phenomenon
Manuel Ángel Méndez, Editor-in-chief of Teknautas at El Confidencial, talked about ‘finfluencers, people who communicate about personal finance on online platforms using new narratives. Some of them are experts that offer reliable advice to the population, but others bombard followers with images that flaunt a luxurious lifestyle, accompanied by toxic messages.
This trend is starting to have negative consequences, especially for the youngest followers, who end up putting their savings in jeopardy without a knowledge base. “There are ‘influencers’ who give harmless advice, but then say things like the pension system is a scam, for example,” explained this expert. “There is a brutal combination of promotion with investment advice.” To counteract practices like this, Méndez defended professional advice. “No one is going to solve your financial problems in a free 30-second video.”
Manuel Ángel Méndez, Editor-in-chief of Teknautas at El Confidencial, talked about ‘finfluencers'.
Inclusive growth and sustainable development
The final round table of the day, moderated by Antoni Ballabriga, Global Head of Responsible Business at BBVA, discussed how inclusive growth is the keystone to sustainable development. Participating in this session were Laura Díaz, Coordinator of Support for the Implementation of the UNEP_FI Banking Team; Mercedes Canalda, Chair of the ADOPEM Savings and Credit Bank, a bank that is part of the BBVA Microfinance Foundation and Stefan Van Woelderen, Sustainability Manager and Director of Financial Health at ING.
Before beginning the conversation, Antoni Ballabriga read a message from Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, who has held the role of United Nations Secretary-General's Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development since 2009. In her letter, the queen recalled that 76 percent of adults worldwide are financially included, an accomplishment for which digital financial services were the catalyst. In this context, the acquisition of digital and financial skills is necessary, as they make it possible to maintain the advances thus far, and provide protection against the digital divide, with the support of financial institutions. “Financial regulators and businesses are in a unique position to foment better financial behaviors among people.” At the end of her message, Queen Máxima concluded with words of support for the summit. “I hope that the EduFin Summit brings commitments and actions to guarantee that digital financial inclusion leads to better financial health for everyone.”
At the subsequent round table, Laura Díaz reminded the audience that "banks should care about the financial health of their customers because it is good for business, but also for people." Díaz advocated for the need to create new banking products, predict user needs, provide transparent information that gives customers confidence, and strengthen financial skills to, among other things, avoid falling into the grip of toxic 'finfluencers'. Diaz took the opportunity offered by the forum to announce the presentation on October 3 of a common framework for financial inclusion and health created by the UNEP FI Financial Inclusion working group, agreed with the participating banks. This initiative has established a set of indicators with the potential to become common terms in the industry. It has also created a theory of change, "that we should all read and follow to achieve the desired financial health impact.”
Stefan Van Woelderen summarized the three pillars of financial health: financial inclusion, including among the vulnerable population the most neglected sectors, such as people with disabilities; daily finances and finances of the future, i.e., support by banks for financial planning for tomorrow. "Inclusion is not our goal, the goal is financial health," said Van Woelderen. "It's not about having access to the bank or an account but making good use of it."
Mercedes Canalda explained the methodology developed by the Microfinance Foundation and Banco Adopem, aimed at understanding the needs of clients and designing products and services. "It's not a matter of the customer going to the bank. We go to their home or business." Canalda shared the video testimony of an entrepreneur supported by the bank, Elba María Matías, who has taken the reins of her family's cattle-raising business.
Canalda stressed that financial education through digital channels is critical to reach more people. "An example of the synergies between financial education and digital inclusion are the Financial Pills and Webinars," she explained. "These are online sessions in financial education, business management, human development, entrepreneurship and empowerment that are conducted through Instagram Live, masterclasses and virtual sessions, with more than 14,000 views in the first half of 2022."
From right to left: Antoni Ballabriga, Global Head of Responsible Business at BBVA; Mercedes Canalda, Chair of the ADOPEM Savings and Credit Bank; Laura Díaz, Coordinator of Support for the Implementation of the UNEP_FI Banking Team; and Stefan Van Woelderen, Sustainability Manager and Director of Financial Health at ING.
Second Day: Mexico City
On its second day, EduFin Summit moved to Mexico to delve into key issues: financial inclusion, sustainable finance and the data revolution. In his opening speech, Eduardo Osuna, Vice President and CEO of BBVA Mexico, emphasized the challenge of banking penetration in a country with an informality rate of almost 55%. "At BBVA we are committed to promoting banking penetration, as we know that this is a key lever for combating informality and boosting the country's development."
In 2008, BBVA launched its Financial Education program in Mexico, which benefited more than 16 million people. This year the bank plans to reach 10 million more people, with a 90% digital offering, compared to the 20% it had in 2018. Eduardo Osuna reminded attendees of the challenge of "leaving no one behind" and BBVA's role in meeting people's goals with initiatives such as Banco de Barrio (‘Neighborhood Bank’), catologue sales and caring for the most vulnerable groups. “This commitment is ongoing. We will continue to promote actions that broaden our scope in terms of gender perspective, youth, vulnerable groups and SMEs.” As to customers, Osuna said that they will continue to use the data to continue advising them on products and services that suit their financial health.
Fighting financial stress
The president of CONDUSEF, the Mexican ombudsman’s office for the banking industry, Óscar Rosado, emphasized in his speech the need to create solutions in a context of high financial stress on the part of citizens at a global level. "We need to make methodological constructions of behavioral economics and information transmission that will benefit the general public." Regarding financial inclusion, Rosado stressed that it is necessary to build up the payments ecosystem among the population, businesses and companies and expand financial infrastructure to move forward in this field. "We must build models of inclusion that tie in with financial health to generate profitability."
Ïn his speech, the president of CONDUSEF recognized BBVA's work as a pioneer in financial education in Mexico. "I believe, at this point, the bank's financial literacy effort, through products and credit, may be the key." In addition, Rosado announced the celebration of Financial Education Week in Mexico on October 19, in a hybrid format and with more than 100 activities.
The president of CONDUSEF, Óscar Rosado.
Dorothe Singer, senior economist for Europe and Central Asia at the World Bank, said that metrics show that during the pandemic, the use of digital payments accelerated, with a positive impact on financial inclusion globally. However, factors such as the gender gap, which still remains, show that much remains to be done.
Moreover, despite progress, 1.4 billion adults still do not have a bank account. “When we ask the reasons, the main answer is: not enough money," Singer explained. "Not enough funds to open an account." Digitalization could be the way for these people to become bankable. “Generally speaking, digital payment can be a catalyst for the use of bank accounts.”
The challenges of financial inclusion
Hugo Nájera, Head of Customer Solutions at BBVA Mexico, outlined the main challenges of financial inclusion according to the World Bank's Global Findex database, with women's access and digitization of payments in the spotlight. Mayada El-Zoghbi, the head of the Center for Financial Inclusion in Action and Ana Victoria García, founder of Victoria 147, also participated in the event.
Women's finances continue to be affected by cultural and social issues and gender biases that still persist at banks in many developing countries. "Women's businesses did not recover after the pandemic," Mayada El-Zoghbi explained. Gender discrimination when applying for credit and caregiving responsibilities were the main stumbling blocks. "However, for men, the opposite situation arises, as they spend less time with the family in order to devote more to the business." To address these issues, the head of the CFI advocates for building partnerships between the government and financial and business players.
Financial education is a solution to remove barriers to women's inclusion. "After working with 15,000 women, we have seen three key factors for their inclusion: education, access to the community and support for them to make better financial decisions," said Ana Victoria Garcia. "These transformational changes are going to be a marathon, not a sprint." In Mexico, the picture is challenging: only 1 in 10 women save money through a financial institution; only 1 in 10 use the Internet to manage their accounts and only 2 in 10 have access to formal financial systems. "We can't measure the impact of what is being lost," Garcia said.
From right to left.: Ana Victoria García, founder of Victoria 147; Mayada El-Zoghbi, head of the Center for Financial Inclusion in Action and Hugo Nájera, Head of Customer Solutions at BBVA Mexico.
New technologies to support the most vulnerable
The data revolution in support of financial skills was the topic of the following meeting, moderated by Carlos Serrano, Lead Economist at BBVA Mexico, with Luz Gómez, Vice President of Social Impact, Latin America and the Caribbean at the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, and Raúl Nava Salazar, Digital Services Specialist for Financial Institutions (IFC). "At BBVA we believe that new technologies, artificial intelligence, databases and other digital resources are a powerful tool to get more people to access the financial system," Serrano said. "We must focus on the vulnerable to develop tailored products."
Luz Gómez spoke about how behavioral science can help develop products and services that meet people's needs. "Going beyond access to information on how to save, we need to promote a behavioral perspective to help overcome biases." Regarding technology in finance, Gómez stressed that there is still a large gap between the rural and urban worlds. Factors such aslack of connectivity mean that the most vulnerable populations continue to be excluded from the system.
As a solution to this challenge, Raul Nava Salazar has advocated for open ecosystems in which financial institutions give access to their systems to create new businesses, products and services that support consumers. "We shouldn’t be afraid of open ecosystems. They won’t encourage fraud. Instead, we have to be proactive and think about how to protect consumers."
From right to left.: Luz Gómez, Vice President of Social Impact, Latin America and the Caribbean at the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth; Carlos Serrano, Lead Economist at BBVA Mexico and Raúl Nava Salazar, Digital Services Specialist for Financial Institutions (IFC).
No turning back
Financial education as a way to mobilize capital toward sustainable finance was the topic of the round table moderated by Lidia del Pozo, Head of Social Programs at BBVA, with the participation of José Luis Ortega, Head of Debt and Multi-Asset Investment at BlackRock Mexico and Pasquale Munafò, Chairman of the Committee on Retail Investors at IOSCO.
When asked about the challenges facing the sustainable investment sector, Munafò explained the four key issues: a lack of consistent information that can impact investors' decisions, the knowledge gap, the risk of greenwashing and the promotion of financial advice to avoid such practices.
To broaden the focus of sustainable investing, financial education is critical. IOSCO is now working on this. "We need to develop educational content on sustainable investments and use a wide range of information channels to inform investors," said Munafò. In this field, it is important for key employees at financial institutions to be well trained. "There are wide differences between countries and we require a major effort of standardization and financial education." Time is short now, but there is no turning back in terms of progress. "We must have a common approach and work together because we are facing an irreversible process," Pasquale Munafò concluded.
José Luis Ortega also stressed the importance of helping customers understand all aspects of sustainable investment. "They are concerned about climate risk and we want to help them identify their investment risks," he explained. "We need to help them understand the risks and opportunities they face in this transition because it's going to have effects on business performance and customer portfolios." As to financial education, BlackRock Mexico seeks to reach all sectors of the population, even beyond its own customer base, and has partnered with organizations such as Inspiring Girls.
From right to left: José Luis Ortega, Head of Debt and Multi-Asset Investment at BlackRock Mexico; Pasquale Munafò, Chairman of the Committee on Retail Investors at IOSCO and Lidia del Pozo, Head of Social Programs at BBVA.
The BBVA Global Head of Sustainability, Javier Rodríguez Soler, delivered the closing speech at the BBVA EduFin Summit 2022. "It’s not enough for banks to provide cards and accounts. We have to teach people how to manage those resources," he said. During his speech, Rodríguez Soler summarized the key points of the day’s discussions. He also reminded attendees of the bank's commitment to financial literacy. “At BBVA, we work toward making financial education a core requirement.”
The BBVA Global Head of Sustainability, Javier Rodríguez Soler.
The BBVA EduFin Summit is the prelude to Financial Education Day in Spain, to be held on October 3, hosted by the BBVA Group under its Financial Education Plan, with the support of the Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores (CNMV, Spain’s securities and exchange commission), the Bank of Spain and the Spanish Ministry for Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation. This event is the starting signal for a wide range of activities, lectures and workshops that will promote financial literacy throughout the country in the coming weeks.