Out with redundancy; in with literacy

As Canadians overspend and under-save, Canada's first Leader of Financial Literacy has her work cut out for her spreading the 'how-tos' of financial planning across the country. Will she be able to get the job done? One advisor shares his point of view.

Out with redundancy; in with literacy
If Canada’s first Leader of Financial Literacy will educate Canadians on the ‘how-tos’ of financial planning – such as avoiding disasters including racking up high-interest, credit-card debt and living far beyond one’s means – then this advisor is on board with the appointment.

“I’m fully supportive, if it is appropriate financial literacy, not ETFs versus mutual funds, or the MER on a mutual fund” says Brad Brain, a financial planner based out of Fort St. John, B.C. “It’s about being able to make smart decisions consistent with your objectives.”

Jane Rooney – who joined Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) in 2002 and since 2008 has been director of financial literacy and consumer education – was appointed Financial Literacy Leader in Ottawa Tuesday by the Federal Department of Finance.

With a $3-million annual budget, Rooney is expected to develop a national financial literacy strategy – via the Financial Literacy Act – and then spread “best practices” across the country, which include integrating learning about money into the elementary school system.

Currently, a program teaching students about money and personal finance is being expanded across Toronto and Montreal, but won’t be going as far as Alberta, British
Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, or Prince Edward Island, reported the Financial Post.

“Something that I hear from clients all the time is ‘why didn’t anyone teach us this in school?’” Brain told WP. “It’s not about a person learning for the purpose of passing a test, but rather about acquiring life-long knowledge.”

The Financial Literacy Leader role came about following federal legislation passed in 2013, and based upon recommendations from a 2011 task force on financial literacy.

The lack of financial literacy amongst Canadians is being attributed to several persistent problems including poorly-managed debt, insufficient retirement savings, and the spread of financial scams.

With vested interest in the topic from a wide-array of organizations and associations, private and public – including the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC); the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education (CFEE); the Ontario’s Investor Education Fund (IEF); ABC Life Literacy Canada; the Investment Funds Institute of Canada (IFIC); the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education (CFEE) … even the Bank of Montreal – Rooney has her work cut out for her in terms of coordination and satisfying interests.

Do you feel Canada's new Financial Literacy Leader will be able to get the job done, or will the 'too many cooks in the kitchen' approach prevent any real education from taking place? Tell WP your thoughts in the comment box below.

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