Top tips for communicating a financial education strategy

The task of creating a financial education strategy is one thing, but communicating it is quite another, so employers need to consider their options. When doing so, there are several top tips they could take into consideration. 

Communicating strategies

If you read nothing else, read this…

  • Financial education programmes must be integrated with organisations’ workforce planning strategies. 
  • Employers must consider their audience, because many young staff will have experienced financial education at school.
  • Face-to-face learning can be highly effective. 

1. Consider employees’ existing knowledge

Many young people will have experienced financial education at school. Through the efforts of organisations such as the Personal Finance Education Group and others over the past 10 years, a young generation is emerging from school with experience of budgeting, running school savings banks and even entrepreneurship and innovation challenges. 

In September 2014, financial education became a compulsory part of the national curriculum in secondary schools, so employers can expect even more young recruits to be familiar with financial matters. Many will have experienced the thrill of a Young Enterprise entrepreneur challenge, involving the financial and operational management of a business venture. 

Prospective employers will miss an opportunity if they do not identify these young people at selection and build on this by involving them in work that continues to extend them in relevant ways.

2. Create engaging campaign hooks 

Communicating with new or younger staff could go along the lines of: ”Here at XYZ Limited, we know how important it is for staff to manage their personal finances skilfully. It makes their lives happier and it also benefits us because we know that financially capable staff tend to be more effective at understanding how our business works, and they make better progress. XYZ wants to be as helpful as we can in this and that is why we…”

Clearly, a different approach is required for older employees, who may be thinking about their later lives and how their finances will work when they may no longer be fully employed.

Again, employers’ approaches should be integrated with organisations’ overall workforce planning strategies, including how they hope to manage the composition of their workforce as fewer young employees become available each year, and more staff in their middle years face decisions about balancing work with other personal needs, such as caring for older relatives or grandchildren.

Managing personal finances around such life events is challenging for employees at different times of their lives, particularly for older workers having to consider their retirement options.

3. Offer access to face-to-face learning 

When deciding on the type of support employees require and the most effective delivery mechanisms, employers must consider the fact that many staff may already be supported by their trade unions. But that does not negate the need for employer support, particularly face-to-face. 

Face-to-face learning has been found to be an accepted and effective method of delivery when provided through a trusted intermediary. 

During the past decade, the Financial Services Authority (now the Financial Conduct Authority) has delivered hundreds of lunchtime seminars in workplaces, which were well received and which prompted a high proportion of employees to take action to improve their personal finance habits.

Employers could consider using an employee benefits consultant or a financial adviser to help deliver their strategy and educate staff. 

4. Seek support where required 

For many employers, a financial education strategy will be new territory and they may need advice and guidance on how to proceed. 

The Money Advice Service’s website is an excellent source of good information about personal finances. But it is important for employers to integrate any information they source into well-considered programmes that are tailored to their wider corporate strategies and are based on sound learning methodologies.

Such methodologies might include providing safe laboratory simulations of real-life personal finance operations, or incorporating personal finance into other training. 

It is also important for employers to remember that, although an employee may feel confident tackling these learning issues in the trusted environment of the workplace, most staff are part of a wider household that will also have an interest in what is being learned.

Howard Gannaway is senior associate in financial learning at the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education