George Tsounias speaks to Robert Boland and Hazel Bowen, recent winners of the Education Champion of the Year award at the 2021 Personal Finance Awards
Robert Boland and Hazel Bowen were crowned joint winners of the Personal Finance Award that recognises outstanding contributions to the My Personal Finance Skills initiative.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, Education Champions continue to deliver financial education workshops either in-school or remotely. In the first months of this academic year, Education Champions delivered more than 200 workshops, reaching upwards of 6,000 students nationwide. A big well done to all nominees who entered and a thank you to all Education Champions who collectively deliver these sessions.
Following their joint win, we caught up with Mr Boland and Ms Bowen to find out a little more about their experience.
Chartered financial planner, Cotswold Independent Financial Services
Since Mr Boland first joined, the programme has grown significantly. “We started with a board game in schools,” he says. “Thinking back to then and comparing it to where we are at now, [the difference] is remarkable.”
The pandemic did not stop Mr Boland, who saw this as an opportunity as, suddenly, the programme started to deliver sessions remotely nationwide. He was able to support the initiative and even had other Education Champions shadow his own sessions.
“Schools themselves were looking for content to share with pupils and largely welcomed my contact. It drove me on to give something back that would resonate and be useful to these students,” explains Mr Boland.
The award promises to deliver wider benefits too.
“My two company directors had faith in me and were very supportive. As a business, we’ll use it in our newsletter and when clients read about it, I hope it opens further doors in schools around Coventry and Warwickshire,” he says.
“I have always been a big supporter of the initiative and receiving this recognition from my peers is tremendous – it means a lot to me personally,” adds Mr Boland.
Hazel Bowen FPFS
Chartered financial planner – Tilney Financial Planning
Ms Bowen has been an active supporter of the My Personal Finance Skills from inception and is incredibly passionate about educating the next generation, as well as showing the way for more females into the profession. “Being an Education Champion aligns with my professional purpose to educate, empower and inspire people to engage with their finances,” she says.
“I embraced the concept of championing the programme. As well as delivering sessions, I contacted schools cold, trained and mentored new champions, while also creating bespoke sessions for schools,” continues Ms Bowen.
“Being crowned joint winner is recognition for the commitment and energy I have had for the programme since it began. It is lovely to know the work is having an impact,” she adds.
Her dedication has not gone unnoticed by colleagues or clients either. “It is good for my firm – clients care about working with a business where people use their commercial experience to benefit the wider community,” says Ms Bowen.
“I would add that the student interaction is really inspiring – this shows how well the sessions are received and that the students benefit, which is what it’s all about.”
George Tsounias is education relationship manager of the PFS