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11 highlights of the Netherlands-OECD Global Symposium on Financial Resilience throughout Life

Last week more than 400 participants gathered together in Amsterdam for the Netherlands-OECD Symposium on Financial Resilience. Please find below 11 highlights of this international event.

1. Opening session - Queen Maxima, Ángel Gurría, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Klaas Knot

In her opening remarks, honorary chair of the Money Wise Platform, her Majesty Queen Máxima stated that people need the proper skills and financial awareness to become discerning customers who can make sound decisions based on their personal situation. Moreover, education alone is not a silver bullet, but has to go hand in hand with access to financial services and effective consumer protection. This last point was also stressed by OECD Secretary-General Ángel Gurría, who spoke of a trilogy of financial literacy, inclusion and access. In a talkshow-setting Dutch Finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem and Dutch central bank president Klaas Knot further addressed the issue. According to Minister Dijsselbloem, much can be done for consumers to enhance financial decision making. Dutch Central Bank President Knot stated that resilience is relevant both at a micro and macro level.

2. Sille Krukow – Make taking the right decisions easy

For people to display savvy financial behaviour, the process of making the right decision should be easier. This was the key message of behaviourial design expert Sille Krukow. She shared three behavioural principles that can help create an environment in which people are able to take the right decisions, namely: adding reminders, providing feedback, and using social proof. Krukow then showed real-life examples on how these principles can be applied to financial decision making.

3. Annamaria Lusardi – Financially fragile people are everywhere

Annamaria Lusardi, both Academic Director GFLEC and Chair of OECD/INFE Research Committee, presented data from a state by state study in the US. A key measure for financial resilience from this study is the task for people to accumulate USD 2.000 within thirty days. As Lusardi points out, especially young people and people with lower incomes are vulnerable. Nonetheless, Lusardi found that people from upper middle classes, with college degrees and full time employees are financially vulnerable too.

4. Elsa Fornero - A tale of two weddings

Elsa Fornero, Professor of Economics of the University of Turin and Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, demonstrated very vividly why pension reform is inevitable. Fornero compared the group pictures of a wedding in the fifties with one in the present age. The big difference is the number of children in the picture: very many in the fifties, very little now. Succeeding in pension reforms with the public accepting is tough however. Fornero shared a set of principles and rules to guide policymakers and pleaded that financial literacy is necessary to make those reforms succeed.

5. Breakouts – Sharing practical knowledge

The breakout sessions enabled participants to share practical experience, and exchange knowledge on how to improve financial resilience. In the breakout session on retirement planning, the panelists agreed that good design of pension systems is crucial for providing adequate retirement and provided examples of tools to make saving for retirement easier. The session ‘Ten golden rules for online tools’ discussed the ways online tooling and gamification can be used to influence people’s financial behaviour. The session ‘Rainy days and heat waves: Preparing for the unexpected’ presented ways to encourage rainy day savings in order to cope with unpleasant surprises. The international session on the second day of the symposium focused on responsible use of credit by youth.

6. Flore-Anne Messy – Financial literacy in Europe

The deputy head of the Financial Affairs division at the OECD showed the results of the latest survey on financial literacy in Europe. Messy demonstrated that many people in Europe do not understand basic financial concepts, such as compound interest and diversification. The number of countries that have a national strategy for financial education is gradually increasing. Messy finally concluded with some collective challenges, like how to integrate financial education into other policies like consumer protection, and designing effective interventions to improve financial behavior.

7. Sander Duivestein - 56 mind staggering slides

In a speedy presentation, trendwatcher Sander Duivestein demonstrated the impact of technology on people’s daily lives. Technology is turning the world upside down and software is eating the world as we know it. Therefore, people will need to change their way of thinking and will have to embrace new technology. In 56 slides, Duivestein made visible how every industry faces ample challenges. For instance, virtual personal assistance will have a radical impact on the financial services industry.

8. Eveline Crone – The adolescent brain: risks and opportunities

Eveline Crone shared her insights from the research she is leading at Leiden University about the adolescent brain. She dove deep into the concept of risk taking. As people enter adolescence they start taking more risks. As they move into adulthood this decreases again, but whether people remain high risk takers very likely depends on what happens during adolescence. Crone strongly illustrated that risk taking behaviour has a biological basis, but she also pointed out ways in which the financial behavior of adolescents and young adults can be shaped.

9. Michael Collins – A three legged stool for building financial capabilities

Michael Collins, Professor at University of Wisconsin and Faculty Director of the Center for Financial Security, presented the results on the impact of financial education programs. He proposed a ’three-legged stool’ for building financial capabilities. Firstly, financial education should focus on building understanding for basic concepts, then secondly build skills using practical examples. Thirdly, it should build the human capital to apply this in real life. When assessing the success of financial education, one should be aware that its impact grows over time, not overnight.

10. André Laboul – A long road traveled, yet still a long road ahead

The chair of OECD/INFE warned that improvement in financial literacy takes a long time to accomplish. Laboul showed the progress made since 2002, when the OECD countries officially recognized the importance of financial literacy. At the same time, there is a long road ahead, that might be just as long as the road travelled.

11. Marketplace for financial education

In eight-minute sessions, six organizations presented their materials and best practices for financial education. 150 visitors listened to best practices from the Central Bank of Malaysia, the Financial Supervisory Authority of Peru, peer educators from The Netherlands, the Austrian National Bank, the Dutch Banking Association and The European Banking Federation. The Money Wise platform demonstrated materials that are used in Dutch classrooms. The setup made for a dynamic atmosphere, which kept participants concentrated and interested and brought them fully up to speed with the possibilities of financial education today.

The different presentations can be found by clicking here.

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Beurs van Berlage
Opening film Symposium
Opening film Symposium

Click and watch the opening film of the Symposium of Wednesday 20th of April 2016.

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Review of day one of the Symposium
Review of day one of the Symposium

Click and watch the opening film of Thursday 21st of April 2016.

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Impression OECD Symposium
Impression OECD Symposium

Click here for a video impression of the OECD Symposium Financial Resilience Throughout Life.

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