Financial Education: Masters Class
Financial literacy and financial decision-making go hand in hand. People with higher financial literacy save more. They are more likely to plan for retirement and have emergency funds readily available. And they are less likely to engage in imprudent behaviors, like carrying balances on high-interest rate credit cards. Financially literate people make better financial decisions.
Simply defined, financial literacy is the understanding of basic financial concepts that consumers and investors need in order to manage their daily lives and long-term wealth. Put another way, it is the ability to understand how money works. Think: taxes, savings, bills, retirement, budgeting, investing, big-ticket payments (college and home) and even identity theft.
With the demands of a hyper-complex and hyper-competitive world requiring evermore literacies and competencies from people in all aspects of daily living, the one core competency — financial literacy — perhaps needed more than ever is at appalling levels as the data show.
In 2015, FINRA (the financial industry regulatory authority) reported that two-thirds of Americans exhibit low financial literacy. A 2015 study conducted by George Washington University indicated that only 30 percent of respondents were able to answer three simple financial questions (on inflation, compounding interest, risk diversification). And, finally, the 2015 Standard & Poor’s Global Financial Literacy Survey (150,000 adults in 140 countries) concluded that the United States placed 14th in the rankings or 57 percent of those surveyed were deemed financially literate. More recent polls and studies consistently affirm these results.
But financial literacy is a two-way street.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau noted in 2013 that the financial industry spends roughly $17 billion annually to market products and services to consumers, but only $670 million towards financial education (or $25 for marketing to every $1 for education). Greg Iacurci, writing for Investment News, points out that as a result of this imbalance, “the public has little access to unbiased information.”
At Kelly Financial Services, LLC, we believe that we have an obligation to help educate our clients with as much objective financial information as possible. We aim to have financial literacy as a core competency for all our clients. It helps our clients make better financial decisions. While we advocate financial literacy for all ages — student, adult, senior — this is critically important for people in or approaching retirement.
This idea provided the inspiration for our Masters Classes in 2019.
These classes are one-hour events where we focus on a singular retirement issue in a comfortable setting. The classes are taught by a financial professional and attended by people just like you — hungry for lunch and learning. And we encourage an active question and answer engagement. Our “curriculum” included classes on Medicare, Social Security, Trusts & Estates, Taxes, Long Term Care, Annuities, and the Markets. The feedback from the first classes has encouraged us to plan even more topics for class.
In the near future we also anticipate launching an educational webinar series to complement the Masters Classes.
All Americans should demand more efforts from our schools, government, and the financial industry in promoting and providing financial literacy. Financial literacy is a financial asset. At Kelly Financial, we are committed to this important endeavor.
If you have any ideas for a class you would like to see taught, please let us know. Together we can help each other.