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NEFE to Congress Fin Lit should be part of reg reforms
WASHINGTON (6/26/09)--Improvements to financial literacy and education could be a part of the larger financial regulatory reform package that is currently up for debate, and the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) gave its input on that issue in Thursday testimony before the House Financial Services Committee’s subcommittee on financial institutions and consumer credit. In prepared remarks, NEFE official Brent Neiser said that his organization supports including financial literacy as part of the coming financial reforms. As a start, Neiser suggested that the concept of being “financially literate” should be well defined, and that definition should be tailored to fit the various stages of one’s life. Setting clear, well-defined standards, as recommended by the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy, would “create a consistent framework for public and private financial education efforts,” Neiser said. Basic concepts that are central to “financial understanding, capability, and literacy” like thrift, investment diversification, and the correct use of credit could be communicated through a “nationwide social marketing campaign,” he added. These marketing campaigns should be “culturally and circumstantially relevant and age-appropriate” and should also consider the needs of “underserved audiences.” Neiser seconded the financial literacy advisory council’s suggestion for a nationwide “financial check-up,” saying that such a check-up would “allow Americans to assess their own financial knowledge and provide links to trustworthy sources of information to fill any gaps.” The Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy also supported financial literacy improvements, with executive director Laura Levine advocating the introduction of personal finance education in “early elementary school years, while students are forming their behaviors and beliefs.” Financial education should be continued in later grades and should follow a number of best practices, including accuracy, availability, accessibility, and “objectivity in content and tone,” Levine added. The Credit Union National Association's Financial Literacy Task Force found that credit union’s have been strong backers of financial literacy efforts, with nearly 80% of credit unions with assets of $10 million or more offering financial education to adults or youth in 2008.
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