‘Big Need’ for Financial Education

‘Big Need’ for Financial Education

Peterson, Ann Hayes

The need is so great that “some financial education is better than no financial education,” Dan Iannicola Jr. told representatives attending a financial literacy roundtable last month at the Credit Union Center, Madison, Wis. CUNA’s center for personal finance hosted the event.

Iannicola is the deputy assistant secretary for financial education in the Treasury Department’s office of financial education. Members attending the roundtable came from Wisconsin government agencies, the financial services industry, and nonprofit groups. They discussed financial literacy programs throughout the state and what challenges exist in meeting the need statewide and nationally.

It’s important to integrate all of these efforts and resources to help people respond to the need, Iannicola says. His goal during roundtable sessions like this one is to understand the challenges in delivering financial education and to take back with him best practices.

Mike Miller, CUNAs senior vice president, association services, noted that CUNA and its member credit unions have offered financial education materials to members for many years. The problem isn’t crating materials. It’s creating demand. “How do you make financial education a prerequisite to financial services? If we can do that, then we can make an impact [on financial literacy].”

Iannicola described the current state of financial education as a “cacophony,” but that’s “better than silence.”

In acknowledging redundancies in the marketplace, he says that’s “necessary messiness. The need is big enough. I don’t see people being taught financial education twice.”

Iannicola’s office serves as an information broker, trying to match financial education suppliers with groups in need of help, and vice versa; gives technical advice; and leads the federal effort to coordinate financial education on federal and state levels.

On Treasury’s agenda is implementing Title V of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, signed into law last December. Title V requires the office of financial education to devise a national strategy and public service campaign to raise awareness of financial education.

-Ann Hayes Peterson

Copyright Credit Union National Association, Inc. Sep 2004

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