Austria's National Financial Literacy Strategy Improving financial literacy and financial skills

Improving financial literacy and financial skills

This autumn sees presentation of Austria's National Financial Literacy Strategy. The aim is to increase the awareness, financial skills and understanding of citizens in the area of financial literacy.

The increasing complexity of the financial markets and financial products, rapid advances in digitalisation, repeated incidents of fraud in the financial services sector, as well as the necessity of engaging more with providing for future personal needs, all demand an ever-growing measure of financial literacy and financial skills. Financial literacy allows us to make sound decisions on everyday consumer matters, enabling responsible handling of both our own available budgets and retirement and savings products. An awareness of the risks and opportunities comprised in financial products and different forms of financing, as well as the impact of debt, makes a significant contribution to both personal wellbeing and the overall prosperity of a society. Through the National Financial Literacy Strategy for Austria, not only have collective, standardised objectives been set for stakeholders in financial literacy, but in addition, improved information exchange channels have also been created. It is particularly important to have a collective approach to financial literacy in order to avoid duplication of work, take advantage of synergies and achieve the best possible outcomes.

The strategy in detail – 'My money, my life, my decision – I'm sure!'

The national strategy comprises four primary political priorities:

  • At an early stage, developing the foundations enabling sound financial decisions to be made and preventing debt distress
  • Promoting responsible financial planning for long-term financial wellbeing
  • Generating awareness of the significance of financial literacy and ensuring access to high-quality financial education for all citizens
  • Enhancing the effectiveness of financial literacy initiatives through dialogue, coordination and evaluation.

These political objectives are supplemented by three overarching focuses: (1) Promoting gender equality; (2) Ensuring that consumers benefit from digitalization; and (3) Supporting consumers in making sustainable financial decisions.

Implementation of the strategy is intended to benefit everyone in Austria, with a particular focus on specific population groups. Children and young people aged between 6 and 19 attending Austrian schools, young people and young adults outside school system (aged from 14 to their mid-20s), women, working adults, as well as small business operators and (potential) private investors, have been identified as priority target groups. The specific needs of these target groups have informed the conceptual design of financial literacy initiatives, and the aim is to target these groups particularly during key life stages, when access to financial education provision and support are very likely to be needed. The needs of additional target groups are being taken into account within the framework of measures planned for the population as a whole.

The strategy therefore sets out the following eight life stages, during which the aim is to support citizens with concrete financial literacy initiatives: school, further education, first job, working life, first major purchase, providing for the future, family life, retirement. 

Within the framework of the strategy, a coordination and cooperation body for financial literacy has been constituted with decision-making, supervisory and advisory roles, supported by a Secretariat. The body consists of a Financial Literacy Stakeholder Council, Steering Board, Scientific Committee and Financial Literacy Community, with the option of constituting subject-based subcommittees.

The strategy document for the National Financial Literacy Strategy is available in both English and German:

The path to a national financial literacy strategy

On 23 September 2021, Finance Minister Blümel presented the National Financial Literacy Strategy: 'My money, my life, my decision – I'm sure!'.

The project for devising a national financial literacy strategy for Austria has been ongoing at the Federal Ministry of Finance since back in May 2020. In an initial phase, the OECD, jointly with the Ministry of Finance, generated a so-called mapping report, collating existing national financial literacy measures and activities in Austria and analysing international best practice. During the current second phase, the Ministry is now working on the specific structures, objectives and measures of the National Financial Literacy Strategy.

Blümel: Financial literacy is the best retirement provision – Ministry of Finance is developing national strategy

In parallel to the work on a nationwide financial literacy strategy, up to the end of March the Finance Ministry's Co-Creation Platform e³lab – at www.e3lab.at - ran an ideas competition entitled 'Financial Literacy – working together to shape financial literacy in Austria'. Over 100 ideas submitted by school students, school class groups and young people, as well as interested citizens, were received on the subject. The ideas presented are currently being evaluated by an expert jury from the Ministry of Finance.

Finance Ministry: Online ideas challenge for a national financial literacy strategy for Austria (in German)

In a media collaboration with the daily newspaper Kurier, the subject of financial literacy will be explored from a wide variety of angles. All articles published to date can be found at: Finanzwissen | kurier.at (in German)