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Summary of sessions and main conclusions

Introduction

Last 22 and 23 November 2018 Malaga held the International Congress on Financial Education ‘Realities and Challenges’, organized by the Edufinet Project and sponsored by Funcas (Foundation of Savings Banks).

During those two days, more than 300 people attended the Congress: over 250 attendants and more than fifty speakers and moderators. Within the framework of the Congress’ supplementary activities, 31 volunteers participated in a behavioural economics exercise carried out on 20 November and based on a questionnaire to be completed, and some 40 people participated actively in the 5 workshops developed on 21 November.

In sum, the Congress, the roundtable discussion held on 22 November on financial education and the media –with the participation of representatives from the media and scholars-, and the supplementary activities, have mobilized nearly 400 people, a figure that reflects the interest in the topics covered by this event.

The most significant conclusions of each one of the 10 sessions of the Congress and of the roundtable discussion are included below.


Summary-Conclusions

1st session: ‘The level of financial literacy of the Spanish population after the financial crisis: an overview’ (Subject: Level of financial literacy)

Speakers:
Mrs. Elisa Chuliá (UNED)
Mrs. Verónica López (Analistas Financieros Internacionales)
Mrs. Andrea Carreras-Candi (EFPA)
Mr. Juan Aguirre (azValor)

Moderator: 
D. Fernando Pampillón (UNED)

The Spanish population struggles to answer basic financial and economic questions. However, the competences of the Spanish citizens are similar to those of the people in its surrounding countries. The level of competences also varies according to parameters as gender or level of education. There is much room for improvement in the knowledge of financial products by savers and investors, who, on the other hand, should have more capacity to assess the offers that they receive from providers and should pay more attention to the role of taxation associated to these financial products. Financial literacy, in addition to providing knowledge and competences, should also provide citizens with ‘temper’ to resist the economic cycle and not to be influenced by bullish or bearish markets in their financial decisions. Financial institutions should try to coordinate their efforts in financial literacy with the public authorities, as well as with private associations, such as those of consumers and users.

2nd Session: ‘Transmitting financial knowledge: methodology, stimuli to learning and areas for improvement’ (Subject: Didactics and methodology of financial education)

Speakers:
Mrs. Laura Hospido (Bank of Spain)
Mr. Félix Domínguez (University of Zaragoza)
Mr. Miguel González (University of Granada)

Moderator: 
Mr. Sergio Corral (General Director of Fundación Unicaja)

There is a certain lack of knowledge of basic concepts related to financial education among the citizens. These gaps may be mitigated by the application of the appropriate methodological approaches although, given the saturation of school curricula, a reflection should be made on how to take financial education to schools. Teachers must be able to put themselves in the position of students receiving financial education, in order to avoid falling in the so called ‘curse of knowledge’. Although the economic and financial aspects are closely related, the economic aspect is seen as essential for teaching financial contents. It is advisable to review the adequacy of the approaches based in transversality and in specialization for teaching financial knowledge. The impact of taxes is seen as an essential requirement in the assessment of financial decisions. 

3rd Session: ‘Measuring the economic return to society of a financial education project: main variables to consider’ (Subject: Effects of financial education programmes)

Speakers:
Mrs. Noelia Cámara (BBVA Research)
Mr. Rafael López (Analistas Económicos de Andalucía) 
Mr. Agustín Molina and D. Francisco J. Oliver (University of Almería)

Moderator: 
Mrs. Ana Lozano (University of Málaga)

The international empirical evidence confirms that financial literacy has a positive influence on the decrease of income inequalities and on the boost to the economic development. The identification of a positive relationship between the level of financial literacy and the levels of savings and indebtedness of families is noticed, as well as the relationship with financial inclusion and stability. In the particular case of Spain, a positive relationship has been identified between the level of financial competences and the holding of financial savings products, whereas the relationship is negative between the said level and banking financing instruments. One of the metrics to measure the economic and financial vulnerability is the time during which a family could subsist if it loses its main source of income and without losing assets such as housing.

4th Session: ‘A good way to transmit financial knowledge: ideas and teachings from the main actors in good practices in financial education’ (Subject: Good practices in financial education programmes)

Speakers:
Mr. José María López (Edufinet)
Mr. Fernando Zunzunegui (University Carlos III de Madrid)
Mr. Antonio Argandoña (IESE)

Moderator: 
Mr. Alberto Ruiz (University of Málaga)

The development of useful training actions in the life cycle of consumers is a priority, but the boost to those competences in other institutional agents is essential too. It is advisable to combine, through alliances, the participation of financial institutions in financial education programmes with the involvement of other social and institutional agents. Financial institutions play a significant role as providers of financial education programmes, due to the knowledge and competences of their employees –accredited, in general, according to recent regulatory developments as MiFID2- and to the capillarity of their network, although within their schemes of corporate social responsibility and avoiding any kind of conflicts of interest. Financial education programmes must transform a complex reality like financial reality into one within the reach of their audience. The clarity and simplicity of the language are therefore essential in this sense, as well as the use of methods which allow citizens to remember what they have learn and to apply it. The rigorous respect to the code of good practices in financial literacy, promoted by the Bank of Spain and the CNMV in 2016, is basic to overcome the informational asymmetry between the suppliers and users of financial services.

5th Session: ‘Is having a high level of financial knowledge enough to make a good financial decision? Financial literacy, cognitive bias and the influence of the environment’ (Subject: Making financial decisions. The psychology of financial decisions)

Speakers:
Mrs. María Eugenia Cadenas (CNMV)
Mr. Eusebio Martín (IE Business School)
Mr. Rafael Romero (Edufinet)
Mr. José María López (Edufinet)

Moderator: 
Mr. Manuel Conthe (President of the Advisory Board of Expansión and Actualidad Económica)


Behavioural Economics provide an essential perspective by revealing the influence of biases and mental shortcuts (heuristics) when making financial decisions. A higher financial knowledge may reduce the influence of cognitive biases and of emotional origin, despite the higher mental effort that implies for the person who must make the decision. Behavioural economics approach must be a basic component in financial education programmes, although the use of nudges for making decisions should be backed by regulations. Consequently, the limited rationality of individuals is a feature to be taken into account when establishing regulatory policies an in the protection of the financial consumer.

6th Session: ‘Do people with a higher level of financial knowledge have more possibilities of successfully launching a business?’ (Subject: Financial education an entrepreneurship)

Speakers:
Mr. Marco Trombetta (IE University)
Mrs. Zulima Fernández (University Carlos III de Madrid)
Mr. Antonio Ruiz (University of Malaga)

Moderator: 
Mrs. Natalia Sánchez (Malaga Confederation of Business Owners)

Having financial knowledge may give some advantages to increase the success probabilities of entrepreneurs. By observing the importance of financial management for the control system of business management, we can obtain indirect evidence of the positive effect of financial literacy on entrepreneurial success. Financial knowledge represents an intangible that allows companies to get and maintain competitive sustainable advantages in the medium and long term.

7th Session: ‘How to measure the returns of a financial education project’ (Subject: Economic analysis of the effectiveness of financial education projects)

Speakers:
Mr. Germán Carrasco (University of Malaga)
Mr. Juan J. Torres (Edufinet)
Mr. José Antonio Molina (IES Emilio Prados)

Moderator: 
D. Fernando Rodríguez (University of Salamanca)

The empirical research addressed to the assessment of the effectiveness of financial education programmes are based on different methodological alternatives subject to limitations and exposed to possible biases. Therefore, methodological robustness is key to value the conclusions reached and, as a premise, the validity of the data used for estimations. In particular, we must be certain that the representative variables of the implemented training actions respond to adequate contents and to an effective use. Considering the previous, a series of international researches point towards a remarkable incidence of the level of financial literacy in financial conducts. With regard to the impact of financial education programmes in the level of acquired knowledge, the results are more controversial. The Spanish citizens, in general, tend to overestimate their own financial competences, what can make them not to assess sufficiently the offers from providers of financial services.

8th Session: ‘Economic and financial knowledge in educational curricula: how and when and how to start to teach them. A compared international experience’ (Subject: Economic and financial knowledge in the educational system/International experience)

Speakers:
Mr. Andrés González (European Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship)
Mrs. Valentina Nina Barabas (Superior School of Commerce Nicolae Kretzulescu – Romania)
Mrs. Monika Kubiszova (Mendelova Stredni Skola – Czech Republic)
Mrs. Barbara Hauswiesner (BHAK/BHAS - Austria)
Mrs. Beatriz Morilla (AEB)

Moderator: 
Mr. Santiago Carbó (Cunef)

A bidirectional disconnection is observed between the way that Economics and financial training are taught. This disconnection remains even in internationally renowned special centers. The lack of the study of financial topics may affect the training process of professionals related to the economic sector or to other sectors. The comparison of the position of economic and financial knowledge in the educational systems of European countries reflects a large diversity of practices between countries, and within them, between the different types of centers. There is a certain consensus on the convenience of having these contents included in the official curricula and to start teaching them from as soon as possible.

9th Session: ‘The influence of digitalization in the dissemination of financial knowledge: opportunities and challenges’ (Subject: Financial education and the digitalization challenge)

Speakers:
Mr. Carlos Trias (European Economic and Social Committee)
Mr. Carlos Caballer (PwC)
Mr. Enrique Fernández (EY) 
Mr. Pau Antoni Monserrat (University of Illes Balears)

Moderator: 
Mrs María Antonia Otero (Member of the Board of Directors at Unicaja Banco)

In general, new technologies provide benefits, but they also pose risks for citizens. With new players in the financial markets which are not covered by the umbrellas of the regulatory and supervisory schemes applicable to credit institutions, the protective role of financial literacy is enhanced. The financial sector is within a process of technological disruption that poses several challenges for financial education programmes. Therefore, it is unanimously agreed that financial education should expand to include digitalization.

10th Session: ‘The influence of financial education in financial inclusion: cause or consequence?’ (Subject: financial inclusion)

Speakers:
Mr. José Ignacio Sánchez (University of Salamanca)
Mrs. Francisca García (University of Malaga)
Mr. José A. Díaz (Edufinet)
Mr. José Luis Gómez (Trustee of Fundación Unicaja)
Mr. Alexander A. Mejía [United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR- Naciones Unidas)]

Moderator: 
Mr. Antonio Romero (Ceca)

Financial inclusion is a phenomenon of stark contrasts between the different regions in the planet. Within each country, differences are noticed according to gender, level of education and participation in the labor market. The initiatives aimed to increase the financial literacy of citizens generate a very positive effect with regard to financial inclusion. Financial education, although not sufficient, is a necessary condition for the promotion of simple financial instruments, which are worthy for financial inclusion and which have proved to be key in the prosperity of individuals, families and communities. The UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, with its 17 SDG (Sustainable Development Goals), provides targets to be achieved by the authorities and particulars, such as financial inclusion (Targets 3 and 10 of Goal 8, for instance).

Roundtable discussion: ‘Financial education from the point of view of the media’

Speakers:
Mr. Gumersindo Ruiz (University of Malaga)
Mr. Alejandro Menéndez (University of Valladolid)
Mr. Carlos Hernanz (El Confidencial)
Mr. Nicolás M. Sarriés (Expansión)
Mrs. Cristina Triana (El Economista)

Moderator: 
Mr. Pedro Fernández (Trustee of Fundación Unicaja)

There are different points of view related to the role that the media may have in financial education. Anyway, the media intrinsically have a structural influence as vehicles of economic and financial information. This results in the need to differentiate clearly between facts, studies and opinions. It is observed that the level of financial and economic knowledge of citizens has room for improvement, although specialized information in those areas attracts, in general, their attention.