The PFS has launched an ‘Education Champions’ initiative to run alongside its existing pro bono programmes and help close the advice gap
With the merger of the Money Advice Service (MAS), The Pension Advisory Service and Pension Wise to form a new single guidance body, the professional advice sector is also playing an expanding and important role in providing greater access to financial information and guidance for the public.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the UK now has the lowest savings ratio since records began, which is further highlighted by the Department for Work and Pensions’ statement last year that more than 12 million people are undersaving for retirement.
The government launched the Financial Advice Market Review in August 2015, in acknowledgement that an advice gap existed, and continues to consider how the known and emerging challenges facing the public – and indeed the country – can be addressed.
Increasing demand for professional advice is already evident and, when considering factors such as pension freedoms, an ageing demographic, rising long-term care costs and future economic uncertainty, both the need and demand will continue to increase.
Pro bono work
While the personal finance profession already plays a key role in society through the service it provides, not everyone either needs or can afford professional fee-based advice.
Every profession, however, has recognised pro bono initiatives and, during the past few years, we have seen the launch of personal finance sector’s own official programmes, with hundreds of personal finance experts across the country engaged in helping members of the public with financial education and guidance.
A new nationwide pro bono programme of financial education, establishing an active link with every secondary school and college of further education in the country, is in the final stage of preparation for implementation
The ‘Education Champions’ initiative will provide important and complimentary financial education for tomorrow’s generation
More than 500 professionals have already signed up to the programme and are currently being trained at
26 regional events in preparation for a formal launch. This programme alone demonstrates a significant appetite across the sector to play a key role in serving the wider community.
The ‘Education Champions’ initiative will provide important and complimentary financial education for tomorrow’s generation and, it is hoped, will ultimately become a key part of the national curriculum.
Meanwhile, the PFS’s ‘Discover Fortunes’ initiative in schools continues its use of gamification to demonstrate key financial scenarios. It also helps to raise the profile of financial planning and paraplanning as careers of first choice, alongside other professionals such as accountants and solicitors.
The pro bono programme is being developed to not only support financial education for the next generation, but also to offer schools access to their own dedicated Education Champions as a key point of contact for guidance on financial matters, to support teachers with content more broadly. The scheme itself is being launched in September to coincide with the start of the new academic year and will partner with MAS to ensure activities
Meeting the need
Last October’s Financial Lives survey, conducted by the Financial Conduct Authority, drew renewed attention to the need for financial education to take its place on the agenda at schools, alongside other core skills – personal, social, health and economic.
The advice profession can be proud of the role it plays and initiatives like the new Education Champions programme are a positive step towards redressing the balance, raising the importance of personal finance management and planning – not only as a vital life skill, but also as a worthwhile and rewarding career.
Pro bono is a feature in all professions and existing initiatives such as MoneyPlan (launched in partnership with Citizens Advice three years ago) and Forces MoneyPlan (launched in 2017 for sick and injured armed forces veterans), mean that personal finance professionals are playing a much wider and more significant role in financial education for all. That is undoubtedly a positive contribution to help close the gap.