High schools opening up to financial advice, says education firm

Pressure from the federal government and demand from students are seeing more partnerships grow between financial advisers and high schools, according to a financial education firm. 

The High-School Financial Life Skills Report for Educators, issued by The Wealth Academy, found that over 65 per cent of university students do not agree that high school taught them financial life skills.

Speaking to ifa, former high school principal and current director of The Wealth Academy, Ken Swan, said, “Kids are coming out of high school upset and angry with the lack of financial education they receive. They get to uni, if they're lucky, and they're trying to buy cars, organise phone plans, rental agreements, leases, the list goes on.

“Schools have never had a way of addressing this need other than providing a website to go to.

“The Australian Secondary Principals Association (ASPA), as well as the state government and the federal government, want high schools to partner with businesses.”

Mr Swan said these institutions and government bodies have developed the National School Improvement Tool, which assesses the operation of high schools across nine specific areas – one of which is schools’ successful partnership with external businesses.

This business partnership requirement for schools is the avenue through which advisers can start targeting young people with financial education, Mr Swan said.

“90 per cent of the schools I go to say the issue is the implementation of financial life skills into the curriculum,” he said.

“We are confronting this implementation issue by pushing financial life skills into extracurricular subjects like business studies, student wellbeing programs or pastoral care programs. If it just sits in the curriculum it won’t have an impact. There might be three lessons taught in year nine, which means teachers have ticked that box, however it means nothing.”

NAB-aligned dealer group Garvan Financial Planning is supporting The Wealth Academy.

Garvan general manager Matthew Fogarty said, “This policy framework on how schools are being assessed is forcing principals to look at genuine partnerships.

“We now have a demand and supply situation. You have schools who want to broaden their curriculum and provide different support to the kids. You then have advisers who want to be in their community and give something back. Ken, and initiatives like The Wealth Academy are the matchmakers that sit in the middle of this.”

“The Wealth Academy has partnerships with nearly 60 schools in Queensland and more across Australia, and an increasing number of planners, who are often already connected to a school, are showing interest in our resources," Mr Swan said.

Mr Fogarty said the growing opportunity for advisers to engage with high school communities can help to address the stigma around the role of financial planners.

“By becoming present and visible in the high school environment it provides an authentic demonstration of what this whole financial planning thing is, which is great for the progression of our industry,” he said.

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