Blümel presents national financial education strategy: 'My money, my life, my decision – I'm sure' Finance Minister Blümel and Nicola Brandt, head of the OECD Berlin Centre, on the aims of the strategy, including action plan to 2026
"Financial education has long been an issue of relevance not just for banks and insurance companies; now, however, it is assuming an ever greater role in the lives of individual citizens. In part as a result of the numerous Covid assistance measures, many people in Austria are indeed finding themselves directly confronted with financial and economic issues. Financial education means above all also retirement provision, and during these times of low interest rates, it is important to engage with financial matters. Austrian citizens should be in a position to make informed financial decisions and be able to assess the opportunities and risks themselves. And so, specifically, today we are presenting Austria's financial education strategy under the slogan 'My money, my life, my decision – I'm sure'. Through this, we are underpinning our declared goal of improving Austria's financial fitness," declares Finance Minister Gernot Blümel.
"Financial literacy concerns us all, it affects us all and it contributes to the wellbeing of us all. We need to raise awareness among Austrians of issues relating to finance, the capital market, asset accumulation and sustainable financial planning. Equipped with this knowledge, a more responsible and self-determined participation in economic life is possible," stresses Blümel, adding, "Through this strategy, we will take important steps over the next five years aimed at benefitting the entire population."
According to Nicola Brandt, head of the OECD Berlin Centre, "The cooperation with Austria to develop a coherent financial education strategy with all stakeholders in society has been veritable pioneering work. It has been a pleasure for us to contribute our data and analyses to Austria through our international network for financial education. The project is already catching on: Greece, Poland and Portugal are already in the starting blocks, aiming to devise a similar financial education strategy with the OECD."
OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann has also contributed a video message: "This strategy will help citizens to cope with these difficult times more successfully and lay the foundation for a solid and sustainable financial future. This will benefit all citizens and the economy of Austria."
Overarching goals and action plan through to 2026
The financial education strategy focuses on four overarching goals: firstly, the development at an early stage of the foundations for making sound financial decisions and preventing debt distress; secondly, promoting responsible financial planning for long-term financial wellbeing; thirdly, raising awareness of the importance of financial literacy and ensuring access to quality financial education for all citizens; fourthly, increasing the effectiveness of initiatives to promote financial literacy through dialogue, coordination and evaluation.
"The word of finance is complex and has a language of its own. It is our goal for people to learn to understand this language so that they are better equipped to make decisions on their finances. I very much welcome this Austrian initiative as part of our broader efforts at EUlevel to increase financial literacy," explains EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness.
"The European Commission is helping Member States to implement growth-enhancing reforms to build greener, more digital and fairer economies. Today, we welcome the launch of a national strategy for financial education in Austria. Promoting financial literacy across the EU is of the utmost importance. We are working with the Austrian government to raise awareness of this important life skill among young people, adults and businesses and to support them in developing responsible financial behaviour,” says Mario Nava, Director General of the DG for Structural Reform Support at the European Commission, in his video statement.
Financial education portal and financial literacy checks
One concrete measure arising from the strategy's action plan is the establishment of a financial education portal intended to serve as a 'one-stop shop' for information on all aspects of financial literacy. "In Austria, there are already numerous effective initiatives and information sources on this topic. The new financial education portal aims to bring all of these under one umbrella for the benefit of individual citizens. To enable a check on knowledge acquired, the portal will also offer the opportunity to obtain a national financial driver’s licence, primarily serving as personal guidance and feedback, although, in addition, the certification may also function as an additional qualification in application processes," explains Blümel.
Coordination and cooperation body for financial education
A coordination and cooperation body for financial education will be established to process and coordinate Austria's national financial education strategy and act as a cooperating agency. At the head of the body is the Financial Education Council, consisting of representatives from the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Consumer Protection, Austrian National Bank and, prospectively, representatives from the entire private sector/NGOs. A large number of national stakeholders will work together on the topic of financial education within the remit of the coordination and cooperation committee, thereby supporting and promoting implementation of the strategy.
Review after five years
"In 2026, an initial evaluation will take place of the objectives achieved so far. It is clear that this issue will continue to be relevant also beyond this particular time horizon," concludes Austria’s Finance Minister.