Bank to invest €4m in financial literacy

Bank of Ireland aims to reach 110,000 people with financial literacy supports in 2024 and 2025 – including 60,000 children and young people through primary and secondary school programmes, and 50,000 adults.

Bank of Ireland is investing more than €4m in a range of financial literacy initiatives as part of its long-running national Financial Wellbeing campaign.

During 2024 and 2025 this investment, with a particular focus on youth financial literacy, will help equip people with the know-how to better understand money and the confidence to make smarter financial decisions.

“Ensuring people are equipped with the skills to make smart financial decisions is key to our financial literacy investment”

According to Bank of Ireland’s latest Financial Wellbeing Index (Red C, Oct 2023) Ireland’s financial literacy score for 2023 was 53%. This means that, on average, people answered just over half of the questions in its financial literacy test correctly.

Worryingly, this research revealed a drop in financial literacy in certain demographics versus April 2023, including in the 18-24 age group where scores fell from 52% to 48%.  This shows that, now more than ever, investment in financial literacy is critically important.

Financial skills

“Ensuring people are equipped with the skills to make smart financial decisions is key to our financial literacy investment,” said Áine McCleary, Group Chief Customer Officer, Bank of Ireland. “We know that the sooner people understand how to manage their money the better off they’ll be in the long run.

“However, when we see a drop in financial literacy in the 18-24 demographic it’s a real concern.  Being financially literate and aware is vital for younger people, in particular when we see them being targeted by fraudsters trying to recruit them for illegal activities like ‘money-muling’. That can have really serious consequences for the individual for many years.

“These findings highlight why the Government’s plan to publish a national financial literacy strategy later this year is so important. We believe that there should be a greater focus on financial literacy in the classroom, and the worrying trends in youth financial literacy point again to the importance of making progress on this agenda within the education system.

Talking Cents

As part of the €4 million investment Bank of Ireland is: 

  • Investing a further €2.4 million in financial literacy programmes for both primary and secondary schools during 2024 and 2025.
  • Continuing to grow the Talking Cents with Ollie financial literacy programme for primary schools and the Money Smarts Financial Literacy Programme for secondary schools with the aim of reaching an additional 60,000 children and young people in 2024 and 2025.
  • Providing funding of over €1 million to support a team of Youth Financial Coordinators and Financial Wellbeing Coaches to deliver financial education initiatives to support the financial literacy and capability of students and adults. 
  • Continuing to offer Bank at Work, a service we provide to employers to help support their employees’ financial wellbeing. Bank at Work, in collaboration with the Financial Wellbeing team, provides a range of financial wellbeing talks and seminars, virtually and in-person, covering saving, budgeting, borrowing, cost of living, mortgages, pensions and fraud awareness. 

“In general terms, our Financial Literacy Score shows us that some of the questions where people consistently perform poorly include around understanding of tax relief, savings, mortgage interest rates and credit card interest,” McCleary added.

“These are parts of everyday life for a lot of people, so it’s important to understand them. We are committed to playing our part in improving financial literacy, and that’s core to our investment plans to the end of 2025.”

In addition to the investment, aim to support 60,000 children and young people through primary and secondary schools, as part of its commitment to the UN Principles of Responsible Banking the Bank has also set a target to reach 50,000 adults with financial wellbeing supports by the end of 2025. 

“Being financially savvy especially in a digital era is an important life skill. Knowledge is power and empowering people to make informed decisions about money is good for individuals, families, and society,” said Mairead McGuinness, European Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability, and Capital Markets Union.

“For young people, being financially savvy means being better prepared as young people study and set out in their careers and start managing their money independently.

“We know that levels of financial literacy in the EU are low, especially among young people. The results published today reinforce that body of evidence and should strengthen us all to do more and better and I welcome Bank of Ireland’s focus on investing in financial literacy, particularly in programmes for young people.”

Main image at top: Bank of Ireland CEO Myles O’Grady with chief customer officer Aine McCleary

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