Nordea, as the leading financial group in the Nordic countries, has the huge opportunity to share our expertise to prevent the negative effects of not possessing basic economic skills. Our employees visit schools regularly in all the Nordic countries to spread this information. We have also teamed up with organisations which have similar goals. Even politicians have been in the loop.
Last spring, the Advisory Board for Management of Economic Skills at the Ministry of Employment and the Economy in Finland published a statement declaring that management of economic skills should become a basic citizenship skill for all Finns. The introduction to such skills should start at the early stages of education and continue throughout the school system. Gunn Waersted agrees, “I have argued for years when I meet politicians that basic financial training should be mandatory as this would be to the benefit of all, but especially those that do not learn this at home. It is sad to see when bad habits and lack of knowledge are cascading down to the next generation. I feel that here we have a huge opportunity to impact society with the competences we have.”
Bringing financial skills into “the real world”
We take many things for granted that the students may never have thought of or heard about. If the school curriculum would more explicitly include a school subject on basic economic skills and if these issues would be discussed at school, young people would be better equipped to make responsible decisions in such a consumer oriented society. Here we as experts in the financial field can truly decrease the risk of young people running into problems with for example with repayments of consumer debts. “I feel it is one of our major roles in society,” Gunn Waersted says.
When Gunn Waersted, Head of Wealth Management, visited a school in Norway, she noticed that children are motivated to learn, if they can relate to what they are being taught. “I learned that they were really interested especially when I used very down to earth and practical examples. I thought it was fun to have the dialogue and challenge myself to make things we take for granted easy to understand and close to their world of experience”.
"I was surprised that they had not been taught more about this topic in school. Some had clearly discussed these matters at home, others not. It could be how to set up a budget to buy a new bike, the effect over time of what might seem as small differences in interest rates or what happens if you don't pay back your credit card debt. Tackling these issues is very important and a good opportunity to truly have an impact on the society around us", Gunn concludes.