Greek mythology offers tales of virtues but financial education has its own valuable lessons!

Greek mythology offers tales of virtues but financial education has its own valuable lessons!

I have recently returned from Rhodes, Greece where I have been for a family holiday. We had a wonderful time on an island full of beauty with the kindest people. However, around this you would have to be very ignorant to not notice the number of closed shops, deserted houses and half-built buildings dotted around on each street.

Greece faced a sovereign debt crisis in the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2007/2008 and it is still trying to recover. With a substantial loss of income and property, a small-scale humanitarian crisis, and hundreds of thousands of well-educated Greeks having left the country, this has not been an easy feat and they still have some way to go!

While I was there, I researched the financial services industry in Greece, and found there is nothing available for the average person! Is this because there is no hope or opportunity (there is always opportunity, right?) or is it because there aren’t enough resources nor the education in place to support the Greek people in this area.

Whilst the UK and Greek economies are not a fair comparison, what is paramount is the need to do more within both geographical areas. New reports show that with mortgage interest rates on the rise again, it’s likely that over 50% of salaries will be needed to make mortgage payments in the next few years as customers come off their current fixed-rate deals.

It is now we need to think about how we position our education in respect of financial service products in the UK that can really help the average person.

I think back to my knowledge 5 years ago. I really didn’t understand the Equity Release product or market, and assumed it was a scam due to the awful adverts I had witnessed on daytime TV! However as with many financial products within the UK the product has been poorly portrayed by media, tall stories, and weird marketing campaigns so it no longer reflected the product it truly was set out to be.

Right now, consumers need some sound support and advice in respect of their financial well-being and options available to them. I urge product providers and distributors to publish and provide the education needed to ensure that normal people, in normal jobs (not just in financial services) really understand the advantages and opportunities certain financial services products can provide them particularly in the tougher times we are experiencing.

This education needs to be simple, clear, and accessible. It’s doesn’t need some Z list celebrity with a shiny white smile. It needs to reinstate the reputation of these products and project the facts, opportunities, and solutions accessible for people to have a better quality of life. Investments, Pensions, Annuities and Equity Release can all have a very important part to play in the coming years in ensuring that millions of people have a more comfortable financial future ahead of them.

As an industry this responsibility must sit with us! To communicate to all generations so that should they need help or some guidance they understand enough to ensure they know the options open to them, and when they should seek advice.

The next few years is going to be nothing short of a rollercoaster, but with the help of the right knowledge and education maybe it could be less of a bumpy ride.

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