A large majority of people in the UK feel their financial education at school was insufficient, leaving them with a significant knowledge gap to fill when embarking on investments including pensions and mortgages.
According to a survey of 1120 personal investors by online stockbroker The Share Centre, some two-thirds feel they would have benefitted from financial education lessons at school – the lack of which, they stated, left them feeling unprepared for dealing with personal financial planning.
Of those surveyed, just 18 per cent said they had received some form of financial education as part of other subjects such as maths and economics – the majority claimed to have learned about the topic through their peers.
Respondents stated that they would have been able to make more informed financial planning decisions had they received dedicated financial tuition. As a result, 90 per cent felt that financial education should be compulsory within the school curriculum.
“With school leavers now heading off to university and likely to end their higher education with large debts – combined with housing now less affordable as house prices have accelerated far quicker than wages, and as the savings ratio is at an all-time low of 1.7 per cent – it is clear that more needs to be done to help give everyone the financial skills they need to equip them for life,” said Richard Stone, chief executive of The Share Centre.
Given the opportunity to choose which financial topics they would have liked to have been taught about at school, 38 per cent identified taxes and mortgages and 50 per cent said the mechanisms of the stock market. Learning about pensions prior to leaving school was also a top priority.
Financial education – the expert view
Pete Glancy, head of policy at Scottish Widows, explains there’s a role employers can play:
“There’s clearly a need for financial education in school, but for those who missed out, it’s not too late to get to grips with personal financial planning.
“Many people naturally associate their finances with work, so employers can help by making financial education accessible.
“Larger employers might be able to develop something bespoke for their staff, but smaller firms can also make a difference.
“Since all employers have or soon will have a workplace pension under auto enrolment rules, there will be an ongoing relationship with the pension provider; they may be able to offer financial education content and tools at no cost.”