Initiatives of the Association of Serbian Banks in the Field of Financial Education
How old were you when you first opened a current bank account? Try to remember how much you knew then about interest, term deposits, means of payment, fees or loans. Ask yourself how much you know today about mobile banking or ChatBot apps, for example. Would you have made the same financial decisions if you had more opportunities to inform yourself through understandable explanations about different, yet similar, offers and products of banks? The problem of insufficient financial education is occurring all over the world, and the Association of Serbian Banks is intensively working on it.
In recent years, relevant global and European institutions, such as the European Banking Federation and the OECD, have been increasingly involved in improving education with respect to finance, economics and banking, especially among children and young people. After the last global economic crisis, and the massive changes in the field of digitalisation in banks, it became clear that it is necessary to invest in more comprehensive, better financial education both for the future generations and the existing users of financial services.
The need for all current and all potential future users of financial services to be educated and empowered to make responsible financial decisions has also been recognised by the Association of Serbian Banks, which has been increasingly focused on education related activities, in recent years. As part of the ASB's ongoing efforts to modernise and improve the banking sector, one of the lasting commitments of the Association is to launch its own initiatives, as well as support existing financial education projects.
Over the years, through the regular activities of its committees and working groups, the ASB has focused a part of its activities on promoting and fostering financial literacy among children and adults through various projects:
- The annual European and Global Money Week, organised by the ASB in cooperation with the European Banking Federation, covers a wide variety of financial education activities, including the European Money Quiz;
- The ASB actively supports the Union of Economic, Legal, Bureaucratic, Trade and Hotelliere and Tourism Schools of Serbia and their initiatives, and through that cooperation enhances the education system and provides support to future staff;
- The Association of Serbian Banks is one of the founders of the Foundation for the Study of Arts and Sciences, within which it supports and provides scholarships for the best students in relevant scientific disciplines;
- The ASB has a several-year-long partnership with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development on their FinPis project, including, for example, the development of a handbook for teachers;
- Preparation of various booklets intended to inform the users of banking services.
In recent years financial education has become an increasingly important field, especially given the development of new financial services and products. Moreover, within the long-life learning concept, continuous education in this field imposes itself as a process which should commence already in the early age of financial services users (school children and youth). On the other hand, financial education has become a topic of international significance: G20 supports this line of action on its summits; OECD does the same through its recommendations and constant research and development in this field; and the European Banking Federation through regular publication of reports on its members’ activities in the field of financial literacy, etc. Thereby this topic has entered the agendas of all financial institutions, especially during the latest global economic crisis, frequently being an integral part of their mission, vision and/or statute.
In line with the above, the Association of Serbian Banks has undertaken the following initiatives in the field of financial education:
- In March 2013 the Association of Serbian Banks became a member of Child and Youth Finance International (CYFY). The ASB membership in this institution was supported by the banks, and by the National Bank of Serbia itself. At the initiative of banks gathered within the ASB Education and Human Resources Committee, which showed rather high awareness of the necessity to jointly address these issues, several concrete proposals were put forward concerning the potential cooperation of the ASB with its member banks. Banks expressed their readiness to coordinate with their Association the implementation of both classical (workshops for children, youth, citizens) and innovative forms of financial education, thereby respecting all required norms: neutrality of information, absence of advertising, implementation of ethical standards, etc. In this way, the representatives of the industry would proactively implement financial education in their sector, at the same time facilitating education in general, informing their future clients, contributing to social responsibility of banks and positive perception of banks in the public.
- In September 2013 the Association of Serbian Banks signed the Memorandum of Understanding with UNICEF Serbia. The objective of cooperation between UNICEF Serbia and the Association of Serbian Banks is the joint promotion of children’s rights in everyday operations of banks; promotion of socially responsible business focusing on children; and organisation of financial education of children and youth through the Initiative for Developing Children-Friendly Financial Products and Services. The partnership of these two organisations will enable for the ASB members to get regularly and more closely informed about the initiatives and guidelines launched by UNICEF, in its desire to enable financial institutions better insight into the impact of their business on respecting and supporting children’s rights in the context of their market activities, development, advertising and sales of financial products and services. Thanks to the cooperation that UNICEF has already developed with Child and Youth Finance International, whose member the ASB became in 2013, the Association of Serbian Banks will receive considerable support and synergy in the field of children and youth financial education, for instance, through the organisation of workshops for pupils and teachers, where they will get familiar with the basics of finance and banking terminology they meet almost every day.
- By being a member of the Financial Literacy Project Group of the European Banking Federation, Brussels, together with other associations across Europe, the Association of Serbian Banks launches various projects and initiatives, thereby directly participating in the creation of contemporary European practices in the field of financial education.
- Through its membership and chairing of the Financial Literacy Committee within the European Banking Training Network, Brussels, the Association of Serbian Banks is able to have direct insight into different approaches to the implementation of financial education programmes worldwide.