Good morning! I want to start by asking you all to welcome the newest member of my senior team, Janneke Ratcliffe. Janneke joined the Consumer Bureau on Monday as an Assistant Director in charge of our Office of Financial Education. I know she will be working closely with all of you the on Council, and I encourage you to take the opportunity to get to know her better.
The President’s Advisory Council is working to improve financial well-being for a new generation of Americans. As things stand right now, most young people lack the skills to make effective financial decisions and accordingly will find it harder to become productive and capable members of society. Unnecessary debt, lack of savings, and poor credit history will block them from opportunities and resources to improve their futures.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” This may be most true in the case of financial education. At the Consumer Bureau, we are working to empower consumers to take more control over their economic lives. We know that financial education is more than websites and flyers, more than speaking earnestly and meaning well – it is also about working with consumers face-to-face, creating results, and effecting systemic change.
The challenges that confront us in achieving this goal of financial capability are complex, varied, and significant. To overcome them, we must start where good education always starts – with our children. Financial education should be as fundamental as the education we are all required to receive in mathematics or the language arts.
Because children form their financial identities early, it is important for parents to talk to their children about money at an early age. We are offering resources to help parents do that. Our website offers Ask Miss April, an interactive online tool that provides answers to over a thousand commonly asked questions about consumer finance. Some of these questions and answers are designed to help parents and guardians learn how to talk to children about “money basics” in order to begin those conversations at home.
Over the summer, in collaboration with the FDIC, we launched an awareness campaign targeting parents and guardians so they understand their role in children’s financial behavior. We created a new website, consumerfinance.gov/parents, that has a series of age-appropriate resources to help parents engage with their children on financial topics. By directing parents to existing objective and reliable resources, we can help build their confidence in providing solid guidance to their children and also help them learn more about their own financial management.
Many of these great resources are provided by our FLEC member agencies, along with the Money as You Grow tool created by this Council in the President’s first term. They cover such matters as spending and money management, savings, earnings, investing, and other topics. No matter whether your child is in elementary school or preparing to enter adulthood, we have identified the best information to guide and support parents and caregivers in these areas.
While targeting parents is an important piece of youth financial capability, we know it is only one of many channels to reach young Americans. The classroom can be just as important, and so we are looking to support teachers in their efforts to teach financial management to students.
In sum, we are moving full steam ahead to develop ways to increase youth financial capability. Much of our work has been shared with you in our annual report on financial literacy, which we filed recently with Congress. And we are eager to hear feedback from leaders like you on what is working, what is not working, and how the Consumer Bureau can best do our part. Thank you.
The Miss april is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. For more information, visit consumerfinance.gov.