On the occasion of a major international conference, the FSMA and the European Commission stressed the key role of financial education in the life of each citizen

Press release
Financial Literacy - 20 February 2024

The Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA), together with the European Commission, held a high-level international conference today at the FSMA’s premises in Brussels on the subject of financial education, resilience and inclusion in this area. More than 250 people attended the event, which could also be followed online. Those present also explored the Wikifin Lab, the FSMA’s interactive financial educational centre. The centre is known internationally as a model of financial education for young people. The conference was organised under the aegis of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Acquiring at an early age the right reflexes in the area of finance and the ability in this way to make good choices thanks to financial education are the key aims of both the FSMA and the European Commission. It is with this shared aim in view that the FSMA and the European Commission jointly held a high-level conference on this topic at the premises of the FSMA. The conference was attended by Mairead McGuinness, European Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability and Capital Market Union, Vincent Van Peteghem, Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, and Alexia Bertrand, Belgium’s State Secretary for Budget and Consumer Protection.

A great many international experts in this field spoke on the occasion: professors and researchers, representatives of the OECD and of the international organization IOSCO, representatives of the European institutions, experts from foreign supervisory authorities, key figures from civil society organisations, etc.

During the various discussions, topics such as the importance of being a catalyst for financial education in the area of financial resilience, the various opportunities and good practices in the field, and the important role that digitalization may play were put to discussion among experts.

Mairead McGuinness, European Commissioner for Financial Services, commented: “We need to talk more about money - how to manage it, save it, invest it and make it work for us. Because money matters. Research shows that financial literacy skills in Europe are not what they should be. Now is the time to address this – to help people make informed decisions about their money.  So, I’m very happy that together with the Belgian Presidency we are bringing together global experts, policymakers, regulators, financial institutions, civil society and academics to discuss ways to boost financial literacy levels in the EU and exchange best practices. This is not only good for individual citizens but for society as a whole.”

According to Vincent Van Peteghem, Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance: “In order to put citizens’ savings to work, we should focus on improving retail participation in financial markets. If we wish to mobilise private savings, financial literacy is crucial. According to an OECD survey, about half of the EU adult population does not have a good enough understanding of basic financial concepts. The issuance of a Belgian government bond last year pointed towards a similar lack of financial knowledge. Households without a good understanding of financial concepts will not actively invest in financial markets.” 

 “Financial literacy has been recognised at a global level as a core life skill. It is essential for both individuals and society. Within the Capital Markets Union Action Plan, financial literacy is one of the priorities and I welcome the efforts made by the European Commission and the OECD in this field. The FSMA's work in this area in Belgium with the Wikifin Lab, among others, are also very valuable and appreciated internationally.”

As Alexia Bertrand, State Secretary for Budget and Consumer Protection, observed: “Financial literacy plays an important role in consumer protection. This conference has shown that various stakeholders have to be involved to achieve this objective. I have thus had frequent occasions to collaborate with the FSMA and its financial education programme, Wikifin. Our aim is that every consumer can BE.COCO, BE a COnscious COnsumer.”

Jean-Paul Servais, Chairman of the FSMA and of IOSCO, noted: “It is with great pleasure and pride that I welcomed this high-level conference at the premises of the FSMA, and in particular in our Wikifin Lab, our interactive financial education centre. This is a tangible example of how a regulator can effectively engage in financial education. The Wikifin Lab already stands internationally as a model of innovative initiatives that allow young people to develop skills that are crucial to avoiding financial problems when they grow up. Improving the level of financial education of the general public is a key theme for the FSMA and the European Commission alike, which accounts for this joint large-scale initiative!”