Hurray for financial literacy!
Let’s sing a chorus of “Happy Birthday” for Swedbank’s Baltic Institutes of Private Finances! They turned two in November but they are very mature and professional for their age.
It is with great pride that I look at what our colleagues in all three institutes have accomplished in this short period. If we’re counting, more than 3000 articles and several TV and radio appearances is the quantity, but it’s the quality I’d like to focus on here.
Because if Swedbank’s goal is to be the bank for the many, both households and enterprises, promoting financial literacy is only logical. Indeed, it has been a focus area for the bank since its origins in 1820 and will be one going forward. A bit paternalistic you might say, the bank explaining finance for its customers the way a parent teaches a child its ABCs. But our reasons are based upon hard core business. Let me explain.
A Rocky Road
In the early 1990s, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia started on the rocky road to a market economy. Without the general public’s contribution, the transformation of the economic systems in these three countries could never have come so far so fast. Good insight into the risks and rewards, the effects of their own decisions on their own private financial futures, is essential if they are to continue driving the process. Only those who understand the benefits of saving and the responsibilities of borrowing can think long term about money.
The institutes’ goal is to be objective and put the best interests of the public first. They analyze the effects of political decisions on various interest groups – the elderly, youth and single parents for instance, in order to create topical awareness. Financial literacy, another focus, builds knowledge about saving, loans and insurance. We need an informed customer base to keep our business and the societies we are a part of sustainable.
Swedbank’s reasons for backing the Baltic Institute of Private Finance are both simple and rational. If the clients of today and the clients of tomorrow in the markets where we do business are informed and aware in the field of private finances, they will flourish and thus help us run our business sustainably. You could simply say “the more knowledge our clients and the public in general have in financial matters, the better for us as a bank”. We can have better dialogues, give better advice and create more shareholder value for our owners. So at the end of the day we all win – the public, our clients, society at large, companies and our shareholders… so join me in singing “Happy Birthday to you …” and in wishing the institutes and the people in these countries many more to come, with a sustainable financial future as a birthday present.