Want to keep your children safe at school? Then read this.
Let’s kick off with a few buzz words. Financial capability. Financial education. Financial literacy.
They all mean roughly the same, and they all contain the F word.
And there’s one thing I’ve learned from 25 years in financial markets — as soon as the F word is mentioned, the shonks and fraudsters come running.
If it’s government money being thrown around, then stand back, or risk getting trampled in the rush for the trough.
It happened with the child care industry. Remember Fast Eddy Groves? The Ferrari-loving former milkman leveraged billions in government subsidies into Australia’s biggest kiddie care chain, ABC Learning. It went bust, as did Eddy.
Then there’s the Vocational Education and Training debacle. The poor old taxpayer stumped up billions to provide worthless certificates for people who deserved better, and Porsches for the predators.
Even Jordan Belfort, the wife-beating Wolf of Wall Street crook got in on the action, flogging useless (but friggin’ expensive) training courses on the Gold Coast. Guess who paid for them? You did.
Where am I heading with this? Well, there’s a lot of chatter about kids needing more financial education in schools. Because schools are paid for by the government, guess what? The sharks are already circling.
I’ve already seen property spruikers angling to ‘teach’ kids about property investment. Seminars promoted by well-groomed people with shiny websites and zero qualifications. What’s next? Bitcoin training?
Not to mention all the financial planners trying to paper over their Royal Commission stains by rebadging themselves financial literacy facilitators or wealth coaches.
Look, I’ve worked with journalists who couldn’t work out basic percentages. That’s because they studied Greek history rather than maths at university, but we’re still talking educated adults who don’t understand interest rates.
At its heart, financial literacy requires a basic understanding of mathematics. But there’s a lot more to it than that.
My formula for raising financially literate kids — and remember I know stuff all about early childhood learning — is 10% maths, 25% psychology and 75% not copying the financial mistakes of parents.
But the flies starting to hang around the financial literacy honeypot probably wouldn’t agree with that. Or care. They just want your money.
Yes, I know ASIC has a financial literacy curriculum. I’ve read it (it gave me a headache at about page 3). It’s only a matter of time before delivering the program is outsourced to the private sector. And like Vocational Education and Training, don’t expect it to end well.
Please, think twice before throwing these people the keys to the classroom.
From here …