Make It Count

Richard Nolan

Operations Director

The Financial Services Forum

In today’s conditions, more people are struggling to make ends meet. Faith Reynolds insists that, if the recession has taught us anything, it’s the critical importance of financial capability.
I remember three years ago when the Taskforce commissioned workshops with people who either couldn’t or didn’t use financial products. What came back loud and clear was that there was a real mistrust of banks. As someone commented, ‘I feel a bit scared – I don’t know when, where and how my money would be handled’. At the time some might have brushed aside those fears, suggesting that all was needed was just a bit of financial education. Today those fears actually seem quite well justified! Financial capability is as much about restoring confidence in financial systems, markets, products and banks as it is about making sure someone can manage a budget.
Banks have a very clear role to play in promoting financial capability in the branch, directly with their customers. Financial capability – having the skills, knowledge and confidence tomanagemoneywell – relies on financial inclusion. If people don’t have access to or use financial products, then the benefits of financial capability can’t be realised – it’s no use knowing that you could get a discount on your electricity bill if you used direct debit, without being able to walk into a bank and open an account which will allow you to do just that.
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