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Financial education for children a powerful agent for change

By Emma Simon, The Guardian

Those attempting to challenge and change financial systems are now looking to recruit a new army: the young.

But this "Generation Y" – those aged between 18 and 30 – aren't mere foot soldiers to this cause. Many in this age bracket are leading from the front, with innovative projects designed to engage younger people, and get them thinking about the impact of the financial decisions they make.

Since the financial crisis there has been a drive to rethink our financial systems: to deliver more sustainable longer-term profits that take account of both social and environmental consequences.

The challenge for those looking to engage younger people is to convince them that the financial decisions they make do have an impact on the political issues they care about: be it climate change, corporate tax, or the living wage.

Lisa Stonestreet, the programme director of UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) points out: "Money is a powerful agent of change. We want to reach out to younger people and ensure that they are part of this debate."

To this end UKSif is rebranding its National Ethical Investment Week as Good Money Week and will be specifically targeting the student population, through social media campaigns, and partnerships with university groups. "Sustainable finance is about more than just investment. We want people to think about all aspects of their money, from student bank accounts to credit cards – and start asking question of these providers."

She said this engagement can produce change. Many of the major banks do valuable work with local communities, educational schemes and social enterprises. "Do customers support these initiatives or would they like to see their bank doing more?"

She added: "We are not making judgements as to which bank, pension company or investment fund is ethical or not. We'd like to see customers of all ages, but particularly younger people access this information and make their own decision about how their money is used."

Read the full article here.