Financial education

Position Paper | Year 2015
Financial education
Class of the Humanities

International and national interest in financial education as a tool in the battle against illiteracy is increasing. Because the term ‘financial education’ has only emerged during the past decade, and is therefore relatively new, the theoretical framework will be outlined first. Attention will be given to some fundamental characteristics of financial education and its benefits and increasing social relevance. Since the success of financial education is necessary in order to obtain a clear idea of the level of financial literacy, this essay will discuss further how literacy is measured.

Since 1 April 2011 the Belgian financial regulator, the FSMA (‘Financial Services and Markets Authority’), has been doing important work in terms of encouraging and coordinating financial education.

The theoretical framework and its practical implementation by the FSMA form the basis of ten recommendations about points for attention and views on the further development of financial education. In addition to an economic-protective objective, there should also be a socioeducational objective. More specific attention must be given to teaching financial skills in the training and development of the critical abilities of young people in financial matters. The integration of financial education into existing educational structures is a relatively short-term challenge.

Measures against financial illiteracy require a particularly favourable social climate to which the government can also contribute by for example concentrating some of its fiscal interests more on increasing efforts in financial education. Financial education clearly needs to be a permanent concern in the financial sector. Product transparency and public  nformation are by no means the only issues.

There will need to be a uniform research framework which is open to comparison and also a targeted financial education. This is primarily for practical purposes, namely to make individuals and households more resilient in taking concrete decisions which have financial implications. This means nevertheless that financial education in the future will need, more frequently, to be the subject of scientific and, preferably, interdisciplinary research.

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  • Marnix Van Damme