Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Financial literacy - are we there yet? ASFA Day 2

If financial literacy is "the ability to make informed judgments and effective decision regarding the use and management of money" then 46 per cent of Australians are functionally illiterate and 53 per cent are functionally innumerate, according to Russell's Linda Elkins.

On a panel with Vanguard's Jeremy Duffield and Paul Henderson from The Smith Family, Linda Elkins told ASFA delegates how one in two Australians do not have the skills they need to make informed choices in their interactions with the financial service sector.

Part of the solution is education and access to low-cost, effective, advice.

The Smith Family is doing their bit for national education, with a Financial Literacy Certificate that helps disadvantaged people increase their financial literacy and improve their money management skills.

What can we all do? Paul Henderson suggested delegates should make sure they are aware of the scale of disadvantage, raise the issue inside their own organisations and volunteer to run a financial literacy training course.

Long time BlueChip client Jeremy Duffield asked the audience what their post-GFC learnings were about member communication. The answers were clear: understand and segment the audiences, make information highly relevant, use plain English, and create simple materials speaking at the right level.

And "stop sending regulatory-driven reams of material people don't understand."
Also in the member engagement stream, Andrew Inwood (Brand Management) & James Coyle (Australian Super) made a case for member communication.
Key themes in their presentations included the opportunity to communicate more effectively to members whose attention may have turned to their super thanks to the GFC, the importance of brands - as yet underdeveloped in superannuation - to member engagement, the need to educate members and the rise of social media as a way to talk and engage effectively.
Will this lead to an "uncontrolled debate" online between funds and their members? Not yet, but certainly with members now arguably more interested in their super, there's never been a better time to achieve greater engagement online.

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