Forget RDR education, consumers need product knowledge
What did you learn in school that you still use? I’ll hazard a guess. Nothing.
People bang on about the three Rs, but kids should have basic mastery of those before they reach double figures.
Science and maths teach the basics early on, but once you are past multiplication, addition, subtraction and division, there is little of any use. I have spent the best part of a quarter century with a corner of my brain clinging to trigonometric formulae but have never found the need to recall it. This sentence is the first time in my adult life I have even used the word ‘hypotenuse’.
Other so-called classical subjects like history, English literature, geography and so on may be interesting, stimulating and cerebral (and there will always be a place for that) but do little to prepare schoolkids for life in the real world.
Languages may have a purpose, but other established subjects like art and music will always be frivolous (there’s a place for that too) and never provide anything more than a hobby for the overwhelming majority of people that study them.
This is not a new phenomenon. More than a century has passed since Mark Twain said “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”
I have slowly realised over the years that school is not about educating young people at all. Instead it principally serves as somewhere to put them until they are not so much trouble any more.
Even the attempts to update the national curriculum do not seem interested in making lessons more relevant. There has been a recent drive to introduce compulsory swimming lessons. People should learn to swim if they want but it would be far easier just to teach everyone else not to fall in in the first place.
There is little interest in using the classroom to teach children something of use, like personal finance for example.
I am not suggesting school-leavers need to take all the relevant CII or IFS diplomas and become RDR-compliant alongside their GCSEs, just that they are given some guidance so money and the idea of financial planning is not such an alien concept.
At a basic level it might encourage people to appreciate the value of various financial products – the benefits of saving for a pension or how a balanced portfolio might be a more reliable investment than the 3.15 at Chepstow.
At the very least it would give people enough of an understanding of an APR that they would be appropriately terrified when a figure like 4,214% – really – appears in the small print (or, more likely, flashes up on screen) at the end of the ad for some payday loan company.
In short, it would help make clear the value of financial planning. For most it will allow them to oversee their own affairs with a bit more authority, but for a sizeable portion of the public it would lead to a much greater appreciation of the value added by a professional financial adviser.
More from Jon Cudby
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