Who invited banks into schools?

smashes students

What do the FT, Vivi Friedgut and Martin Lewis have in common?

Answer; a common wish to keep banks out of schools!

Why have I posted that stupid photo to this blog?

Answer; because it demonstrates comparable imbecility of allowing banks to provide the financial education to  our kids

Who wants to let banks into our schools?

The Government is planning to let banks organise financial education in schools.I reckon they’ll be about as welcome in the schoolyard as drug dealers and paedophiles. But apparantly it’s not the done thing to say so.

Thanks to to the CEO of www.blackbullion.co.uk for bringing my attention to a rather nasty article by PJ White , editor of www.youthmoney.org.uk .

He clearly has no problems with conflicts from employing the organisations who sell financial services to educate those of tender years on how to buy them

Moral panic alert.

Banks are about to be let loose into the nation’s schools to peddle their wares to innocent school students. Or to deliver some financial education, which some argue amounts to the same thing.

The Financial Times, which triggered this alarm, kicked off its story saying “High street banks responsible for some of the worst consumer mis-selling scandals of the past decade will be invited into British schools to help teach financial education…”

This ungenerous description of some of our finest financial institutions was mild compared with the response from part of the financial education sector. “WTF?”, spluttered Vivi Friedgut of Blackbullion, a company specialising in financial education.

She likened it to providing free gin at meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. She’d prefer banks to contribute to a fund “to pay passionate, knowledgeable financial educators to deliver engaging dynamic and effective financial education programs to students.” Hint: she may be thinking about herself there.

Of course, there’s a long tradition of educators working with banks to provide financial education.

The Personal Finance Education Group charity is pretty relaxed. It draws the line at promoting financial products but allows brand names to be displayed on schools materials. This is handy, as donations and grants from those brands keep Pfeg going.

Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com and financial education campaigner, is also cool about banks in schools. He was quoted by the FT:

“I’d like to see teachers introduce bank staff and say to children:’Their job is to sell you products and make a profit. Now what would you like to ask them?’”

Vivi Friedgut’s question in response might be,

why don’t you shut the door on your way out you bunch of PPI-mis-selling, Libor rate-manipulating, money-laundering evil-doers?

And she’d be right to do so. There is nothing wrong with Vivi and BlackBullion charging schools for their time and expertise. Indeed, charging a straight fee rather than relying on sponsorship from financial institutions (whether as a charity or as the charitable arm of a bank)  is the best way to avoid conflicts and re-install trust in those who look after our finances  .

Getting on for 12m subscribe to Martin’s e-mails and I’ve no doubt that Vivi will get there herself if she carries on like today! Those 12m do so because they know and trust what they are getting- they know they’ve made Martin rich but don’t seem to begrudge him his success. As one recent comment put it.

Martin what would we do without you?!

By contrast ,PFEG has a long history but is virtually unknown. That’s what you’d expect from an organisation in the pocket of its sponsoring financial institutions .

If we are to restore confidence in those financial institutions , we need to be get”expert”. That means keeping clear blue water between those doing the buying and those doing the selling.

It also means being honest about what is going on (as Martin Lewis is suggesting).

“Free” financial education is no more “free” than free financial advice. Schools and Government’s who think they can get education  on the cheap are simply adding to the confusion and  distrust we have with financial institutions.

This would be an inter-generational transfer we could do without!

If we are ever to make our kids money saving experts, they need to get savvy . That means them waking up , not sedating themselves with the financial mogadon the banks prescribe.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
This entry was posted in annuity, Bankers, corporate governance, Financial Education, smelly, Student debt, zopa and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Who invited banks into schools?

  1. David Crabtree says:

    Haha, harsh and somewhat true, but until you see what they are planning to do it might not be a bad thing to let banks essentially foot the bill for financial education.

    I can see why some other vested interests who probably make a living from having their resources used for financial education would be worried, but rather than be critical why not embrace the opportunity?

    I very much doubt a bank manager will go into a school and sell his products. The banks will be funding existing professionals to create syllabus materials and lessons which will be critical reviewed before being used.

    There is every chance someone like Vivi Friedgut might be being paid by the banks to help develop such lessons and syllabus materials.

    Why do we have to automatically assume this is bad? Money in financial education from any source is a positive one in my view.

    There is no evidence to say the banks intentions are anything but completely transparent and positive at this point.

  2. RCG says:

    Is part of this blog missing? There are some strange half sentences and much of it doesn’t make sense. You’ve come highly recommended as a blogger, but this is pretty poor!

  3. Mike Atkin says:

    My 3 questions would be –
    1. I have heard various people talking about the services you provide. It seems to me you are happy to provide “products” to people when they have the wherewithall to maintain repayments. When they fall upon hard times you actually take the opportunity to charge them more which does nothing but exacerbate their perilous situation and drives them into the arms of wonga.com and the like. Why is that and do you think it is right?
    2. What gives you the right to criticise people who may have made a poor financial decisions when you can go make really poor financial decisions such as buying Amro and then expect the person you are criticising to underwite your losses via his taxes. Why is that?
    3.I suppose the answer to both would be capitalism and free enterprise but how can that be when the unwitting population underwrites any risk taken by the banks?
    Its all a bit of a conundrum? (A paradoxical, insoluble, or difficult problem)

  4. George Kirrin says:

    The criticism is more than a little unfair.

    Often the members of staff from banks and building societies who have visited schools are locals, sometimes even former pupils. Their role has also been to counteract some of the stereotypes which might otherwise be peddled by more than a few teachers of a certain political persuasion/delusion. Few teachers, unless they have come to teaching as a second career, seem able to offer real insight into the world of work and how to keep to a budget.

    Banks are also examples of many businesses where those in the boardroom or in other high (and usually overpaid) offices wouldn’t generally have a clue how to relate to a classroom of teenagers or pre-teens. Some probably see even less of their own children, if they have any (or am I guilty of stereotyping here?!).

    Remember “Back to the Floor” on BBC2?

    That’s why such “missionary” work in schools in the past has been left to branch employees more used to dealing with customers and the public generally. In my experience (and I’ve sometimes had to follow them in business programmes where schools get a series of visitors to come in, each with our different experiences and stories to tell) they do a good job and offer hard-pressed teachers some time off.

  5. henry tapper says:

    I was involved in one such educational project sponsored by a large insurer. It was referred to internally as the CEO’s peerage plan (CPP) and there was much rejoicing when we could call it a day and get back to the day job.

    There are many people, like Viv , who are comitted to making people more money savvy, more and more websites like Martin’s.

    Surely we can and should do better than providing hard pressed teachers with relief (though I share your sympathy for their plight-especially when they are forced to teach a subject they don’t feel confident teaching).

    Apologies to everyone for the poor quality of this blog for much of today. I appear to have been posting an early draft rather than a finished article.

    Hopefully what people see now is more coherent and you’ll pardon me on what has been an exceptionally busy day!

  6. George Kirrin says:

    Relief for teachers was only part of my experiences. I think most, if not all, of the pupils were relieved too. Some demystifying, and any later opportunities I ever had to see whether any lasting impressions were made suggest anecdotally that they were. Pupils (like any audience) don’t remember the content for long, but they do remember the feeling it left them with, for good or bad or none.

    Yes, you see examples of CEO vanity projects, but it usually never does any real harm for people to get out of their day jobs once in a while and talk to, and listen to (two ears, one mouth), people who are the future. Scotland’s national bard (whose birthday follows later this month, as I’m sure you know, Henry) committed to print the following:

    O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us. To see oursels as ithers see us!

    yours aye, George

  7. Herbert Crumb says:

    One of the most informative lessons of my schooling was when a reformed drug addict, international smuggler, drug dealer and convicted criminal was invited in to tell us about drugs. It sticks with me over 20 years later. He spent a large part of the time telling us about being smashed out of his brain in Thailand, the highs, the hallucinations, the best drugs, you name it. He also told us about getting arrested and jailed in a number of countries, the flash backs during job interviews, the downs, the lows, the depression and everything else that comes with a life of such misadventure.

    Don’t get me wrong, I know that all bankers are not like reformed drug dealers (most of them have done nothing wrong in the first place, just like most journalists didn’t hack phones, intrude privacy, or bribe policemen).

    The reason it worked as a lesson was bringing the depth of experience and knowledge that none of the teachers in my school could bring (there were a few ageing hippies that might have come close).

    Should bankers help educate our children about financial matters? Absolutely, and let’s be balanced, let’s have a few people who have been declared bankrupt too. Let’s have people with CCJs against them, you name it.

    I’m a parent and my kids are subject to advertising morning, noon, and night. Recently representatives from a commercial nationwide educational organisation (Explore Learning) attended my five year old son’s school. They handed out sticker cards and told them they could collect more on their first (paid) visit to the centre. They also left my son with the impression that it was a soft play area. He was pretty keen for me to pay for him to go. Do we have to protect our children from manipulative adults – you bet. Should we exclude organisations or individuals with arguably the greatest knowledge on the subject – no way.

  8. Pingback: From aubergines to Amazon- the unstoppable Vivi Friedgut | The Vision of the Pension Plowman

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