The financial literacy of Romania is a global level laggard – namely, we rank number 123 out of 143 countries and we rank last in the European Union. Romania occupies the last position in European tops as regards financial intermediation and financial inclusion alike.About 40% of adult Romanians are unbanked, while contemplating the fact that in developed countries such as Austria and Germany, the weight of unbanked people stands below 1%. The average financial inclusion in the European Union member states is 90%.Therefore, Romania’s development strategy should include tactics for deficit dampening compared to European averages, including education in the field.
Romania has also the lowest welfare level in the European Union, and the solution is to treat the causes that make our country occupy this position.
GDP/capita in current prices reached 28% of the European Union average in 2016 compared to 26.4% in 2008 and, expressed in the standard purchasing power, GDP/capita stood at 59% in 2016 compared to 49% in 2008.
We are convinced that, with the contribution of all parties, the best development recommendations can be identified by contemplating the public policies with impact upon financial and banking education and implicitly, upon Romanians’ economic welfare.
The Financial Literacy Platform
The financial industry from Romania and all its stakeholders have committed to a common leadership of a mobilizing project for Romanians’ best interest via a public – private initiative called the Financial Literacy Platform. The aggregative objective of the Platform partners is to enhance the level of financial literacy in Romania.
Sustained efforts are needed in order to reduce the gap next to an approach that promotes in an integrated manner the financial industry stakeholders’ projects.
The public – private initiative closely monitors compliance with the principles of the National Strategy on Financial Education established by OECD.
The Financial Literacy Platform represents a positive catalyst for the efforts made by the financial market players related to educational projects.
In Romania, the integrated promotion of the financial industry stakeholders’ projects will materialize in a partnership between all the areas of financial business and the authorities, focused on clearly explaining financial products to consumers.
Each leader of the financial market stakeholders focuses on and sets the pace of the efforts targeting the Platform’s common goal. In practice, we will witness a supply of information for consumers via projects generated by the banking, capital, insurance, private pensions and leasing markets. In some cases, the projects will be fully integrated. Common projects will exist also for entrepreneurial financial education where the need is high as well.
The identification of the population’s needs and of the communication channels was performed via a market survey. GfK Romania conducted the market research called “Financial Literacy”, the data disclosed in the 2016 survey being comparable with the one included in the 2011 market survey. In the last five years, the perception regarding institutional responsibility related to financially educating the population went up. School is considered the institution responsible with this education to the largest extent; this perception went up compared to 2011 (from 53% to 79%).
Based on this market research, a matrix was established with projects which are priorities for the financial industry, a matrix that will assure targeting the public and segmenting it function of needs and skills.
In the next step, the financial industry will launch concrete projects. In the second semester of 2017, the financial industry will launch a practical textbook for financial literacy.
This textbook will be launched under the Financial Literacy Platform brand and will represent a premiere for the financial industry of Romania as regards educational projects for customers’ benefit. We count on inter-institutional collaboration as regards the promotion of the textbook’s content in several educational entities. The Romanian Association of Banks intends to contribute to the drawing up, together with the Ministry for National Education, of simple financial concepts, including exercises that are to be included in the school curricula, in order to enhance the financial competences of the pupils from the primary and secondary school. We are of the opinion that the Romanian Association of Banks has a positive impact as regards education and informing consumers.
We want to be able to support the new generations to become aware of their rights, of the benefits they can get but also of the implicit obligations and risks they will face when they become adults and when they have to consider their own welfare as well as the welfare of their families.
The Romanian Association of Banks has become a support member of the European Banking Institute together with the national banking associations from Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, the objective being the consolidation, in Europe, of a partnership between the academic environment and the financial industry.
The European Banking Institute located in Frankfurt is a non-government organisation set up in January 2016 that intends to draw up high class academic research in the field of banking regulations and facilitate the interaction between universities, regulators and supervisors on the one hand and the banking industry on the other hand. The Institute was set up as the natural outcome of the process of consolidating banking regulating and supervising at European level.