Thursday 30 April 2009

Banks and the public

Last night’s Fabian event examined various ways to rebuild trust between the banking sector and the public – from bonus restructuring to regulatory reform.

There are many different players in our financial system, all of whom need to take stock and review just how effective they are in the role that they play. Banks, government, shareholders and the FSA have all been engaging in a fair amount of soul-searching of late - and rightly so.

But there’s one key component of our financial system that rarely gets mentioned: us.

It’s crucial that we raise the level of financial literacy in society as a whole. At last night’s event the head of Barclaycard, Antony Jenkins, argued that financial literacy should have a greater role in the National Curriculum.

This doesn’t entail that every school leaver has to have the capacity to debate the relative merits of neo-classical endogenous growth theory with Ed Balls.

But if we ensure that all individuals are educated about the financial system they are a part of, and informed about the products they save with and invest in – then that in itself is an important safeguard, as much as any regulatory body.

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