Spain needs more financial education to face the challenges of the future
Beatriz Morilla, Head of CSR at the Spanish Banking Association (AEB), sees financial education as a fundamental tool to "fight poverty, reduce inequalities, promote gender equality and achieve greater health and well-being." From this global perspective, the AEB is working on the rollout of nationwide impactful actions and on securing support from the financial sector.
One of these actions is "Tus finanzas, tu futuro (Your finances, your future)", an AEB training program designed to help teens build up their money management skills and develop healthy financial habits. "When we launched the program five years ago, banks had already long committed to raise financial literacy levels in our society, which, unfortunately, are very low," explains Beatriz Morilla. "What 'Tus finanzas, tu futuro' has done is raise awareness about the efforts these institutions are making, training almost 36,000 teenagers aged 13 to 15." Morilla acknowledges the efforts of the more than 2,600 professionals of the participating banks, including over 170 BBVA volunteers who have contributed with almost 300 hours of training in 69 schools: "Without them this initiative wouldn’t be possible".
Financial education from the start
Little by little, Spain is starting to wake up to the importance of financial education, and the country now has implemented a national strategy that keeps growing and making strides: "We have a good Nationwide Financial Education Plan, led by the Bank of Spain and the Spanish National Securities Commission that more and more stakeholders are joining. But it’s still not enough ", says Morilla. "We need to start by introducing primary and elementary students to basic concepts and continue helping them build their skills until they transition into the job market." The same can be said about other population segments: "We must educate employees and entrepreneurs and, through training, accompany people in times when they need to make major life decisions, such as buying a house or planning for the future."
Fostering retirement saving habits, another key issue in which Spaniards are lagging, is becoming increasingly urgent for a compelling reason: "In a matter of years, Spain will be the world’s most elderly country thanks to the increase in life expectancy. Unfortunately, we are not prepared for all the challenges that this new scenario will pose.” Given these prospects, the best we can do is take a look around and learn from what other countries are doing to prepare for this: "We have neighbors where financial education levels are as low as Spain’s, but we need to focus precisely on those that are way ahead of us, to learn from and replicate what they are doing, taking into account our particularities."
Beatriz Morilla, Head of CSR at the Spanish Banking Association (AEB).
Pursuing a future where financial education is not only part of the picture but a key tool in promoting well-being, is possible, but requires following the appropriate principles: "We need to think about financial education in the context set out by the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda, as part of that quality education to which everyone should have access ". In this future that Morilla envisages, the banking sector will become a "crucial player" thanks to initiatives such as the Responsible Banking Principles, drawn up and signed by 28 global banks, including BBVA. According to Morilla, these principles: "set a global benchmark for the banking industry to become a key player in reaching a more inclusive future - a future where no one is left behind - and offer practical guidance on how to act to create value for society."
In this context, the Internet emerges as another major tool, allowing more and more people to access education resources, and, consequently, enjoy better opportunities. Aware of this, the AEB has rolled out several 'online' training initiatives, including "Me suena un poco (It rings a bell)," a very successful program that benefitted from "the involvement of several television celebrities to whom people could relate." Another initiative in this field, the Marta and Nacho’s financial education course, allowed the AEB to reach a specific audience: "young people who are aware about the importance of learning how to manage their money to improve their present and future lives.”
The association has also kept the elderly in mind and has launched "Sí, dígame (Hello? This is him speaking)", a two-minute video series in which two expert finance experts, Julio and Jaime, explain complex financial concepts that are part of everyday life in plain terms. Short formats facilitate the dissemination of knowledge: "The idea is to get those who watch the videos to share them via WhatsApp with their relatives, elderly or otherwise, who may be interested in understanding these concepts.” The success of these initiatives has confirmed AEB’s fundamental premise: "People are interested in learning about finance". And this certainty is a valuable source of motivation for future actions.