– Two-thirds of personal investors believe they would've made more informed decisions if they had received dedicated financial education lessons at school
– Personal investors feel unprepared when faced with tax, mortgages and pension
– Majority of respondents felt that financial education should be compulsory within the school curriculum
When asked about their exposure to financial education at school, staggeringly 78% of personal investors stated that they didn't have access to any. Only 18% said it was available to them in some form of financial education as part of other subjects such as Maths and Economics, with the remainder learning about the subject through their peers.
Nearly two thirds of the respondents believe that they would have made more informed decisions if they had received dedicated financial education at school. This last finding portrays how personal investors feel unprepared when making financial decisions after school.
Respondents were asked about specific financial topics and products they'd used in adult life but wish they had learnt more about at school. Worryingly, 50% of investors cited the mechanisms of the stock market. Whilst 38% wished they'd learnt more about tax and mortgages. What's even more disconcerting is that, almost half flagged a desire to learn about pensions prior to leaving school, possibly as a result of learning their worth in adult life. This is alarming as the ability to understand such financial products are critical life skills.
Reassuringly, as a result of the above, a resounding 90% of the respondents to our survey felt that financial education should be compulsory within the school curriculum. Although aspects are taught today through topics such as Personal Social and Health Education (PSHE) there is a strong call to improve this through increased cooperation between schools and experts from the sector, as well as through better resources for teachers and greater use of real world examples.
Commenting on the lack of financial education in schools, Chief Executive of The Share Centre, Richard Stone said: "With the plethora of relatively complex financial decisions required in life it is clear that there is a need for greater financial education within the school environment and perhaps there should even be a formal Financial Education GCSE or similar which everyone should take.
"With school leavers now heading off to University and likely to end their higher education with large debts, combined with housing now less affordable as house prices have accelerated far quicker than wages, and as the savings ratio is at an all-time low of 1.7%, it is clear that more needs to be done to help give everyone the financial skills they need to equip them for life. Especially given that personal investors flagged they would've liked access to more information about mortgages and pensions at school. Improved and dedicated financial education within schools needs to be a critical part of that."
Recognising this need to financially equip students, 14 years ago The Share Centre set up the real investment competition, Shares4Schools. The national programme introduces sixth form students to the world of finance as they explore the mechanisms of the stock market. Since it began, the competition has acted as an interactive tool for students from over 100 schools to assist learning about finance. During the seven month investment period, students will learn about stocks and shares, dividends, risk assessments as well as developing their research skills as they explore possible companies to invest in.
Beginning on 30 October 2017, schools are invited to register now for the new competition. They will need to form teams of a minimum of three year 12 students to enter. Each team will start the competition with an investment pot of £2,000. Schools will need to raise the initial £1,000 and then The Share Centre will match fund the other £1,000. Excitingly, if schools register by 13 October, The Share centre will gift their team £250 to be put towards their initial £1,000 (terms and conditions apply).