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Research shows that young people, in particular, need more financial information

Belgians generally think they have adequate financial literacy for managing their day-to-day affairs, but research shows they often overrate themselves. They can make contactless payments, bank online and follow up their daily financial records. But their financial literacy is lower in relation to investing, borrowing, retirement and pension saving. These are the findings from a study by the research agency Indiville, commissioned by Febelfin.

National survey by Febelfin and research agency Indiville of 2,164 Belgians aged between 16 and 79, of whom 746 were aged between 16 and 30 (March 2022).

The study also highlights a lack of financial literacy among young people aged 16 to 30, who score lower than the rest of the population on all the examined points. However, basic financial literacy is essential to manage your money properly and build your wealth, especially in challenging economic times.

A few findings at a glance:

  • Although Belgians give themselves a score of 6.8 (out of 10) for financial literacy, they often seem to overrate themselves at this level in relation to investing, borrowing and pension saving.
  • 63% say they do not know enough or anything about investing or investment products.
  • More than six out of ten young people also say they know nothing or next to nothing about pension saving, investing or applying for credit.
  • Barely 37% of young people are involved with their money matters, which represents a decline compared to last year (44%)*. But just over half of young people say they have adequate knowledge or know something about budget management or keeping daily financial records.
  • Some 39% of Belgians think they know what the bank does with their money. This figure is slightly higher among investors (51%). Overall, however, this figure is far too low.
  • Belgians are mostly searching for more information about investing and online safety. Young people are primarily interested in information on investing, becoming self-reliant and borrowing/applying for credit. On the positive side, young people say they are hugely open to receiving information on issues about which they are less knowledgeable.
  • The financial sector has long been committed to financial education and believes it is essential that sufficient room is created in the training path of young people for this purpose. Raising financial literacy levels among young people is a shared responsibility, in which not only the financial sector, but also the government, education and all other stakeholders should play an important role. Febelfin wishes to continue supporting all stakeholders by developing informative content and free educational materials.

*National survey by Febelfin and research agency Indiville of 2,045 Belgians aged between 16 and 79, of whom 750 were aged between 16 and 30 (March 2021).

Financial literacy: work to be done, especially for young people

While knowledge about managing one’s daily financial records, contactless payments, digital banking and self-reliance are good, the figures pertaining to Belgians’ knowledge about borrowing, budget management and pension saving are much lower. And the situation is certainly not rosy when it comes to knowledge about investing and investment products.

Young people feel most comfortable with contactless payments and digital banking. Although eight out of ten young people believe they have sufficient knowledge in this area, many of them lack the necessary knowledge about other financial matters. But just over half of young people say they have adequate knowledge about budget management or keeping daily financial records.

As a result, not all young people are able to manage a budget in the best possible way, or even keep track of their daily financial records. And those skills are exactly what they need to have financial stability or continue building their wealth in the future. More than six out of ten young people also say they do not know enough about pension saving, investing or applying for credit.

Another revealing figure is that fewer than 50% of young people can say with certainty what the bank does with their money. Moreover, barely 37% of young people are involved in their money matters, which represents a decline compared to last year (44%).

Financial worries also affect young people more (47%) than the rest of the population (39%)

In fact, managing personal finances is a considerable burden or an inconvenience for many Belgians. On average, 43% (2021: 38%) of Belgians do not like to spend time on their finances, and the percentage among young people is even higher than those aged 31 and over. The strong correlation between financial literacy, engagement and money problems is no secret: those who are less knowledgeable about their financial affairs are less likely to engage in money issues and are more likely to have money problems. As this creates a vicious circle, increasing financial literacy among young people is crucial. These are reasons enough to sound the alarm.

Young people are requesting more financial information themselves

Belgians are mostly searching for more information about investing and online safety.

The study shows that young people are open to receiving more information. The three most popular topics among young people seeking information are investing, self-reliance and applying for credit, but the demand for information about budget management, pension saving and saving in general also remains high.

The financial sector, government, education, and other concerned stakeholders have an important role to play in providing information to young people. Young people state they are looking for information to help them develop their financial literacy. They look to the financial sector and other players to provide general financial information for this purpose.

People feel that the government should help inform them about topics such as retirement, pension savings and online safety. Young people also rely on other players – such as schools, the media, as well as their parents – to convey information on money matters, self-reliance and keeping track of daily financial records.

Imparting financial literacy is the social responsibility of various players. And the sector naturally encourages all - joint - intiatives that can help improve young people's financial literacy.  

‘Introducing young people from vulnerable backgrounds to different facets of society is essential so they can become responsible and engaged citizens. TADA is keen to work with partners like Febelfin; with them, we will focus on broadening our young people’s financial literacy.’
Pieter De Witte
Managing Director TADA

More financial education with the revamped ‘Mijngeldenik.be’ website and new educational materials

To meet young people’s demand for more information, Febelfin has launched the new look ‘Mijngeldenik.be’ website. UX students from the Karel De Grote University of Applied Sciences considered what the ideal site looks like and what content was relevant to them. A personalised website by young people for young people.

Mathyas, one of the students who worked on this project, explains: ‘Our own experience shows that many young people struggle to understand financial issues that crop up as we get older. According to the research we have conducted, an information portal such as mijngeldenik.be with clear categories and personalisation based on young people’s interests and questions is the perfect solution for this purpose. As UX UI students, this was a rewarding learning experience to work on, in conjunction with Febelfin.’

Febelfin highlights various aspects of daily financial life on that website: paying, saving and investing, borrowing and living, and much more. Febelfin will make additional efforts to translate this informative content through TikTok and Instagram channels to reach young people directly.

And in the coming months, Febelfin will also develop content on specific topics such as crypto, which is extremely popular with young people nowadays. After all, it is essential for them to build up sound knowledge before entering the world of crypto, as it obviously involves risks. Febelfin will work with ED TV and develop new additional material for third-year secondary students. This will also be made available in French afterwards. 

ED TV is a platform for young people and teachers that uses videos to discuss difficult topics.

Febelfin also organises financial literacy and skills workshops with the organisation TADA. These workshops are an excellent opportunity to positively contribute to the financial education of children and young people in Brussels.

TADA vzw (short for ToekomstATELIERdelAvenir) is a learning network that engages the general public and business community in the emancipation and integration of socially vulnerable teenagers and their environment.

Pieter De Witte, TADA’s Managing Director explains: ‘Introducing young people from vulnerable backgrounds to different facets of society is essential so they can become responsible and engaged citizens. TADA is keen to work with partners like Febelfin; with them, we will focus on broadening our young people’s financial literacy'. 

A need for quality information, especially in these times

Educating young people properly about financial skills remains essential, especially in these challenging times when sky-rocketing energy prices are putting a particular squeeze on many households’ finances.

At the same time, the culture of quick money is on the rise. Movements like FIRE, which advocate risky and fast investments, are becoming increasingly popular among young people. To counter this phenomenon, the industry is aware of the importance of paying adequate attention to financial education and informing young people as well as possible. We need to equip them with the necessary tools so that they can look beyond the culture of quick money, which all kinds of channels currently tempt them into. Increasing financial literacy among young people is necessary: financially resilient and properly informed young people become adults who later make better financial decisions. This is why Febelfin will provide even more information through the mijngeldenik.be website in the coming months and develop new additional material with various partners, both in Flanders and Wallonia.

Abbreviation for ‘Financial Independence Retire Early’. The FIRE movement encourages extreme saving and investment to be able to retire early.

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