Investing In A Sustainable Future

By Charlotte Bengt Petersen (Danske Bank Group)
10:32 AM, March 23, 2012

The importance of access to education and learning is underscored in the global human rights that form the foundation for the Principles of the UN Global Compact. Education is a key factor in strengthening an individual’s capabilities and wherewithal, and financial literacy is an essential component in that regard. At the Danske Bank Group, we also believe that financial education and ethical guidelines are the path to personal prosperity and sustainable growth in the future. That is why in 2007 we developed our Financial Literacy Programme, which consists of a number of learning activities for children and young adults from the ages of 5 to 27.

An increasing number of international studies show a need for a better understanding of personal finance among children and young people around the world. It is obvious that financial services companies like ours focus on the challenges of financial understanding because we provide financial products, knowledge, and advice to both businesses and private individuals. We believe that better-informed consumers help to promote transparency and responsibility among financial services providers. The Financial Literacy Programme is therefore well-integrated in our business, demonstrating that our overall purpose is to create value and growth in a responsible manner.

In a society where an increasing number of young people take on debt and do so early in life, the challenges are clear. Such debt can follow them long into adulthood and deprive them of important opportunities later in life. Studies, such as one from the Center for Studies in Economics and Finance (University of Salerno, Italy), also show that, for individuals, insufficient financial literacy correlates with large debt and a lack of savings. We are convinced that a long-term approach is necessary if we want to ensure the financial well-being of future generations.

Understanding children’s knowledge of money

In 2007, in order to meet this global challenge, the Danske Bank Group began developing the Financial Literacy Programme. The Programme contains initiatives for children and young people that teach them about personal finance in ways that are specially adapted to their age groups.

The Programme is based on a number of surveys conducted in collaboration with the YouGov Zapera research institute in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the Nordic countries where we operate. These surveys asked parents about their children’s interest in money, their knowledge about it, and use of it, among other things. The results show that children become interested in money before the age of six but also that many in the older age groups lack basic knowledge and have difficulty defining monetary interest, for example. That is worrisome, considering that the ability to manage one’s finances is crucial for personal prosperity and freedom of action. Other conclusions are that financial knowledge and habits are passed down from generation to generation, and that the effort to improve financial understanding should begin as early as possible.

Financial literacy for children and young people

Thus far, the Danske Bank Group’s Financial Literacy Programme consists of five initiatives that have all been prepared in collaboration with a team of experts, including child psychologists, math teachers, and education researchers. The experts contributed their special understanding of the individual age groups’ learning abilities and approaches to financial knowledge. Together with the studies from YouGov Zapera, the expert panel has provided invaluable knowledge in the development phase of each initiative.

For the youngest children, the Moneyville game involves earning your own money by completing small tasks in the town of Moneyville and saving money for the things you want to buy. For slightly older children who can read and write, there are more complicated tasks. For students aged 10 to 15, there is a website called Control Your Money, where groups of users must complete financial missions, for example, arranging a class trip. This requires that users can manage income and expenses and create a budget. And for teachers who offer instruction in financial literacy, there is a website containing teaching materials and suggestions.

For young adults aged 18 to 27, the Mind Your Money website is based on a number of major life events that require financial decisions and understanding, for example beginning a course of higher education. It is especially important for this age group that the material is honest, relevant, and transparent, so we also use social media to draw attention to the subject and create a dialog.

All the initiatives are offered online so that distribution is easy and many people, both customers and non-customers, have access to the learning universes, which exist in several languages. The initiatives for children and young people under the age of 18 are not branded because the material is not meant as marketing but solely for the education of this age group.

Global knowledge-sharing

As a logical extension of our effort to promote financial literacy among children and young people, we have made a commitment to share our experience internationally. We hope that, together with organizations such as Aflatoun and ChildFinance, we can contribute to a global development that will give all children financial knowledge and capabilities and will help in attaining the Millennium Development Goals.

Financial Literacy Programme

Moneyville: An online learning game for children aged five to nine

  • Control Your Money: An online universe of exercises for young people aged 10 to 15 that can be used in school
  • Teaching Financial Literacy: A set of guidelines and suggestions for schoolteachers who want to offer instruction in financial literacy
  • Mind Your Money: An advisory website for young adults aged 18 to 27 that is based on relevant life situations
  • Facebook page for Mind Your Money: Online access to advice and knowledge-sharing about personal finance for young people on Facebook


About the Author
Bengt Petersen, Charlotte

Charlotte Bengt Petersen is Corporate Responsibility Communications Coordinator at Danske Bank, Denmark. With a Masters Degree in Rhetoric she has a broad theoretical foundation in both oral and written communication.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect CSR Manager's editorial policy.
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