Companies all over the world develop products and services that are targeted at young people who can recall their teen years and the gadgets, food, movies and merchandise that were specifically created for their age cohort.
As with every fad, it takes money to acquire these products and services, and regardless of their age, young persons need guidance to navigate their financial habits.
The Financial Services Commission (FSC) considers financial literacy to be a core life skill to participate in an increasingly complex and sophisticated world.
This principle brought about the creation of the FSC’s Schools’ Financial Education Programme (SFEP), a youth-focused activity-based programme developed in partnership with Junior Achievement Jamaica.
It is held between January and March each year and teaches children and young adults how to take charge of their own financial future and make smart plans, based on wise financial choices.
Speaking recently at the FSC’s Financial Forum, Communications Officer at the entity, David Answer, explained how, as a Regulator, FSC views its role in empowering youth.
“Promoting financial inclusion through financial literacy equips youth with the knowledge and skills to make sound financial decisions. This also builds confidence and capacity in the financial sector,” Mr. Answer noted.
With that in mind, youth-focused initiatives such as the National Investor Education Week’s annual youth forum and specialised presentations have helped to form a wide-reaching financial literacy and inclusion strategy.
This approach has allowed the FSC to touch the lives of high-school students, adults in various communities across the island, the disabled and underprivileged women.
The FSC states that SFEP acts as the vehicle for tackling some of the challenges the Jamaican financial sector faces today, such as high cash reliance, financial vulnerability, inadequate financing and a general distrust and lack of confidence in the financial system.
“To combat these challenges, SFEP provides students with the opportunity to hone a very critical skill set that is integral to their personal and professional development. SFEP not only caters to the needs of their financial development but also appeals to the development of their soft skills, critical thinking and public-speaking abilities.” Mr. Answer tells JIS News.
Since its inception in 2011, SFEP has had many successes, as students who participate in the programme have become opinion leaders among their peers in conversations about personal finance, and ambassadors of financial literacy and inclusion.
“This not only promotes the need to become financially literate but also spreading awareness of the important financial institutions that govern the financial industry,” Mr. Answer notes.
He says that the programme has assisted the development of youth by creating student ambassadors promoting sound financial decision-making and leaders among their peers by equipping them with the knowledge needed to build a solid financial foundation at an early stage in their formative years.
“SFEP has done this for over 6,000 students over our decade of implementing this initiative,” Mr. Answer tells JIS News.
The FSC credits its partners for the successful activities under SFEP, chief among them are school administrators.
“We have reaped many successes with SFEP, and a large part of that is due to the many teachers who have joined forces with us and Junior Achievement. We say thanks to our educators, nurses, policemen and women who have always invited us to their annual conventions, giving us a platform to recruit more ambassadors of financial literacy and an audience eager to learn more about financial inclusion and literacy, so they, too, can share the knowledge,” Mr. Answer points out.
In the meantime, the FSC’s collaboration is not just at the junior level but also it sees partnership with other institutions as a vehicle for promoting greater financial inclusion.
The FSC’s collaboration with stakeholders in promoting financial literacy and inclusion is characterised by consumer-focused initiatives being implemented across the island.
There has been meaningful collaboration with local, regional and international bodies such as the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service (MoFPS), Bank of Jamaica (BOJ), Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE), Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), Junior Achievement Jamaica (JAJ), Jamaica Deposit Insurance Corporation, Bureau of Gender Affairs and the International Forum on Investor Education (IFIE).
The Financial Services Commission has partnered with these organisations on numerous initiatives, such as World Investor Week and the National Investor Education Week, where members of the FSC team represented the Commission in presenting to its stakeholders on topics like financial literacy, personal finance and the FSC as Regulator of the non-deposit-taking financial industry.
The FSC’s committed interest to promoting financial literacy and inclusion has caused the Commission to draft a multipronged approach to boosting its reach to all members of its stakeholder grouping.
“The future is bright for our country and its people, and we believe that a Regulator of the future that will facilitate development through regulation has an integral role to play in the furtherance of that success. The future presents us with an opportunity to do more, and to do better, so that we can better serve our stakeholders,” Mr. Answer argues.
“Being a better Regulator means embracing the future and all that comes with it and doing our utmost to protect our stakeholders,” Mr. Answer tells JIS News.