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Financial Literacy and its relevance in the 21st Century

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One of the most important lessons that a person can learn is how to manage their money. Many young people go into adulthood with little knowledge about financial management and they end up making mistakes that cost them a lot of regrets in the long run. Educating young people about the importance of financial management and making sound financial decisions will go a long way to prevent them from making costly mistakes. This will also encourage them to be financially prudent when making decisions. Thus, the importance of educating young people on financial literacy can never be overhauled or overemphasized.

Financial literacy is the act of acquiring set of skills and knowledge that allows an individual to make informed and effective decisions with all of their financial resources. Financial literacy also involves the skillfulness of financial principles and concepts such as financial planning, budgeting, forecasting, compound interest debt management, profitable savings techniques and also, the importance of understanding the value of money and the principles of wealth management. The lack of financial literacy leads to making poor financial choices that can have negative consequences on the financial well-being of an individual.

On the 3rd of January, 2019, Acting Gov. Sheila Oliver of New Jersey in America signed a law that mandates the state Board of Education include financial literacy instruction in the curriculum for sixth- through eighth-grade students in public schools across New Jersey. This bill was signed at President Barack Obama’s Elementary School in New Jersey City. Although the new law gone into effect in September 2019, New Jersey has actually been ahead of the financial literacy curve for years now. In 2014, the state adopted the program Standard 9, 21st Century Life and Careers, which include guidelines for what students need to know and be able to do in order to be successful in their careers and to achieve financial independence and health. Included are specific financial literacy standards broken out by grade level. However, the 2017 Financial Report Card from Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy provides the grades for all states, based on their efforts to produce financially literate high school graduates. Sadly, only five states received an “A” grade for their financial education efforts, namely; Alabama, Virginia, Tennessee, Utah and Missouri. These five states require high school students to take at least a half-year Personal Finance course as a graduation requirement. Only 17 states in total require high school students to take a course in personal finance.

After graduation every step our kids take from college through retirement will be directly influenced by their ability to manage their finances: student loans, credit cards, jobs, mortgages, savings, etc. Once they hit 18 years old, they are required, and able, to make decisions that could affect their entire life, often without the necessary financial knowledge and skills. The point being, understanding finance is a critical skill needed as an adult, yet it is not a mandatory high school course in most states.

The Central Bank of Nigeria made a commitment in 2011 which she referred to as the “MAYA DECLARATION”. The purpose of this declaration is to reduce the number of financially excluded Nigerians from 46.3% in 2010 to 20% by the 2020. To ensure the fulfilment of this obligation, a National Financial Inclusion Strategy was accordingly developed and launched in October 23, 2012. The strategy identified consumer protection and its constituent pillars of Market Conduct, Dispute Resolution & Consumer Education as critical to the attainment of its  objectives. Sometime in 2015, The Central Bank of Nigeria said it has commenced discussions with the National Education Resource Centre to introduce financial literacy programs into the education curriculum of secondary schools in Nigeria.

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At a recent stakeholders meeting conference that was held in Abuja on the 17th and 18th of January 2019, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in collaboration with a variety of financial industry stake holders came out with a number of policy positions that will help to educate more Nigerians on Financial Literacy and its importance in the society today. It said once the discussions with NERC are finalized, Financial Literacy will be taught as a subject in all Nigerian secondary schools before the end of this year. The commencement of the financial literacy program will assist in improving the savings culture among secondary schools in Nigeria. An important aspect of this strategy is the implementation of financial literacy programs across various target groups of Nigerian population. On the 19th of July 2019, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it is in partnership with churches and mosques in the promotion of financial literacy in the country. The bank’s Director, Consumer Protection Department, Mr Kofo SalamAlada made this known in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja. SalamAlada said the apex  Bank had organized outreach programs to educate members of some faiths based organizations with a view to educate them on the program and the need to key into it. CBN decided to use such religious organizations because of the spiritual and religious nature of most Nigerians. However, CBN is ready to work with any organization willing to set up an in house financial literacy program.

The five key points from the conference that was held in Abuja on the 17th and 18th of January at the stakeholders meeting include;

1. With Financial Technology (Fin-tech) becoming an increasingly important part of the business ecosystem , there must be deeper collaboration amongst the various regulatory authorities and private market participants such as deposit money banks (DMBs), Telco, retail stores and payment system banks (or agency banks). The regulators must ensure a seamless set of rules and responsibilities that cover issues related to the services rendered by each retail and wholesale market participant.

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2. Consumer education needs to be broadened and deepened. Multilevel platforms need to be adopted for the education of a wide range of consumers of financial services:

  • Market men and women
  • Students-primary, secondary and tertiary
  • Artisans
  • Crop Farmers
  • Animal Husbandry Farmers
  • Sellers of small unit items at the margins of urban economies

3. Consumer dispute processes must be fashioned in manners that guarantee quick, easy and inexpensive resolution of differences between service vendors and customers. This may also require speedy resolution of differences between regulatory agents, meaning there must be clarity over role and responsibilities in cases of dispute.

4. The target of national exclusion must be reduced from 46.3% in 2010 to 20% in 2020. The current exclusion rate in 2018 was about 36.8% according to a recent report by Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFINA).

5. To reach the financially excluded, market infrastructure needs to be enhanced. Poor communication, especially in respect of Telco services in rural communities need to be urgently addressed. Many payment bank agents suffer frustration because of weak network connection and slow data processing time.

The lack of financial literacy can lead to owing large amounts of debt and making poor financial decisions. For example, the advantages or disadvantages of fixed and variable interest rates are concepts that are easier to understand and make informed decisions about if you possess financial literacy skills. Based on research data by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, 63% of Americans are financially illiterate. They lack the basic skills to reconcile their bank accounts, pay their bills on time, pay off debt and plan for the future.

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The current realities in the Financial Sector show that, it is only when the interest of consumers is given proper attention and protected that public confidence would be restored in promoting a strong and stable economy. Though there exits many educated and literate Nigerians, a high percentage of the population does not have the requisite skills to effectively manage their financial transactions and take advantage of the opportunities presented by the financial products and services to improve their well-being. An important aspect of this strategy is the implementation of financial literacy programs across various target groups of Nigerian population.

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Consumers of Financial Services have also been subjected to unethical practices from financial institutions which could be attributed to their low levels of financial literacy arising from their lack of knowledge of their rights and obligations in their relationships with the financial institutions. Financial illiteracy affects all ages and all socioeconomic levels. Financial illiteracy causes many people to become victims of predatory lending, subprime mortgages, fraud and high interest rates, potentially resulting in bad credit, bankruptcy or foreclosure.

However, some signs of lack of financial literacy include;

  • Not having a budget, a goal or a plan.
  • Excessive spending
  • Living on debt.
  • Not having emergency savings.
  • Borrowing for the wrong reasons.
  • Banking on an expected money
  • Not investing for the long term.
  • Ignoring insurance.
  • No retirement plan
  • Pressure from social media and friends.
  • The main steps to achieving financial literacy include;
  • Learning the skills to create a budget
  • The ability to track spending
  • Learning the techniques to pay off debt
  • Effectively planning for retirement.

These steps can also include counseling from a financial expert. Education about the topic involves understanding how money works, creating and achieving financial goals and managing internal and external financial challenges.

Financial literacy helps individuals become self-sufficient so that they can achieve financial stability. Those who understand the subject should be able to answer several questions about purchases, such as whether an item is required, whether it is affordable, and whether it an asset or a liability. This field demonstrates the behaviors and attitudes a person possesses about money that is applied to his daily life. Financial literacy shows how an individual makes financial decisions. This skill can help a person develop a financial road map to identify what he earns, what he spends and what he owes. This topic also affects small business owners, who greatly contribute to economic growth and stability.

How can financial literacy be encouraged in Nigerian?

  • There is a need for increased consumer financial literacy to improve the literacy penetration ratio which is still embarrassingly low. An 80% penetration by 2021 is targeted.
  • Nigerian youths need to be more actively engaged in financial literacy to create a more active financial industry participation rate for a demography group between 16 and 35 years of age. This represents over 60% of Nigeria’s population of an estimated 198million people
  • Women need to be especially targeted since research evidence show that they are more reliable borrowers of funds at the MSME levels
  • The different segments of the financial ecosystem; banks, insurance companies, pension fund managers and stockbrokers need to be more intimately related to provide consumers
    with a more robust understanding of products and services rendered by each market segment and how they are linked or complementary.
  • A process of monitoring and evaluation has been designed to ensure that processes or procedure agreed are actually followed

Children and youths are an important target group for the purpose of the financial literacy program. It should be noted that financial literacy is better learned at a young age instead of in adulthood. This is because a habit imparted in the youth at an impressionable age becomes a way of life. Where the youth grow without financial education, it would be difficult for them to have financial literacy as well as being capable of managing their own financial matters in a way that will impact their well-being when they become adults. When financial literacy is achieved, it will help to boost financial inclusion in any country-Nigeria to be precise.

It should be noted that being financially literate is different from acquiring normal education as some people are educated but financially illiterate.


Written by Chukwuma Aguwa

Nairametrics frequently publishes articles from experts such as financial analysts, economists, researchers and investors. We also feature articles from guest writers and bloggers who wish to push their views and opinions through our platform. To get your articles on Nairametrics, kindly send an email to [email protected] and we will publish it within 24 hours of approval by our editorial team.

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Columnists

Will the Oil markets miss Donald Trump?

As Donald Trump prepares to vacate office, what will be the fate of the oil market and the several arrangements the US has put in place with OPEC+?

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President Trump leaves Walter Reed Hospital

OPEC will miss Trump, its ‘companion’, and would be careful about strains under Biden.

Some OPEC members are worried that strains in the OPEC+ union could reappear with the administration of the newly elected US President, Joe Biden, as the outgoing President Donald Trump went from criticizing the ‘cartel’ to aiding and abetting, in order to achieve a record oil yield cut.

Biden could examine political relations with three members from OPEC – Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela, just as with key non-OPEC member, Russia.

Severe US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela has kept large number of barrels of oil free, every day in the market, and if Biden loosens up measures on the sanctions in the nearest future, it will lead to increased supply in the market.

In some of his statements, Biden said he would lean towards multilateral discretion to the one-sided sanctions Trump has forced, even though that may not necessarily mean removing any sanctions any time soon. In his mission, Biden said he would revisit Iran’s 2015 atomic arrangement if the leaders keep their part of the bargain.

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Trump quit the agreement in 2018, reemploying sanctions that cut Iran’s oil trades. Some in OPEC dread that the arrival of Iranian volumes will add to oversupply, without reductions somewhere else and stress over Moscow’s proceeds, with investment in OPEC+.

“Iran sanctions can be re-evaluated and then Iran will be back to the market, so again there would be oversupply and the current cut deal will be at risk,” an OPEC source said before the result of the political decision was known.

There are also fears Russia would leave OPEC+, as their ally leaves the White House. “There is the danger of Russia leaving the OPEC+ bargains too, which implies a breakdown of the arrangement, as it was Trump who welcomed Moscow,” the source said.

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Diplomatic threat

Biden has named Russia as Washington’s most genuine worldwide danger. In his campaign, he additionally vowed to rethink relations with Saudi Arabia.

In contrast, Trump liaised with Saudi Arabia and Russia to end a fiasco that brought oil prices down. The outcome was a record global arrangement to cut oil to around 20 million bpd or around 20%. OPEC+ alone consented to cut 9.7 million bpd.

Trump connected more with the oil markets, regularly taking to Twitter to comment on supply and the American energy industry. Biden is viewed as bound to avoid meddling in OPEC matters as much as possible. He would depend more on advisers and not micromanage as Trump usually did.

“Biden would not have the comfortable relations with Putin that Trump seems to have,” said Chakib Khelil, a previous OPEC President.

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Critical Implications

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Trump built up a good relationship with top OPEC producer, Saudi Arabia’s ruler Mohammed Salman, who depends on the United States for weapons and security against territorial opponents.

Although, there were certain times Trump tried to bully OPEC+ into bringing prices down, as it was affecting gasoline prices in America; his continuous support for Shale oil also affected OPEC’s dominance in influencing and managing global oil supply. It is highly improbable that Joe Biden would make that type of interference.

Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that Iranian oil would get sanctions lifted quickly. Hence, this means OPEC+ individuals would have a sufficiently long time to change their arrangement to prepare for more Iranian oil.

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Effects of the recession on families and how to cope

For families, it will require a lot of sacrifice, adjustments and prudence in the management of resources to navigate the economic storm.

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The National Bureau of Economic Research defined a recession as a significant decline in economic activities spread across sectors, lasting more than a month, normally visible in real gross domestic product (GDP), real income, employment, industrial production and wholesale/retail sales.

According to the just-released data by the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declined by -3.62% (year-on-year) in Q3 2020, thereby marking a full-blown recession and second consecutive contraction from -6.10% recorded in the previous quarter (Q2 2020).

READ: CBN gives up on its policy of attracting dollars

The year 2020 has been a trying time, not only for Nigerians but for the world generally; this is as a result of the novel coronavirus, which has impacted the economy negatively.

The Nigerian economy over the years has been striving to be stable because of the mismanagement of funds, high debt rate and unemployment, etc. However, the recent recession compounded Nigeria’s socio-economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic and Post #Endsars Violence.

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READ: AutoGas: President Buhari to launch scheme on December 1

Furthermore, to curb the spread of the pandemic, a lockdown was imposed nationwide, during the period of March to August 2020 and a lot of families found it challenging to survive the impact of disruptions to daily commercial activities.

Some had to dip into their savings to remain stable during that period. Jobs were lost as some companies could not afford to pay salaries, while some companies had chosen salary reduction as a way of sustaining their businesses.

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Prices of goods and services also increased astronomically during this period. On the other hand, economic activities, religious and social gatherings were limited to contain the pandemic across the nation and the negative effects on the economy.

READ: VAT collection edges higher but indicates weaker economy

The following are the major causes of recession in any given economy as drawn from the past Nigeria economic recessions:

  • A general rise in price of goods and service which leads to low purchasing power.
  • Increase of debt, especially foreign debts.
  • High-interest rates discouraging investors
  • Importation bans in Nigeria which increased poverty rate in Nigeria.
  • Mass unemployment and general loss of confidence in the government due to the challenging economic indices.

READ: Explainer: What does GDP actually mean, and how does it affect you?

In a recession, families with little or no barriers to resist the effect of recession are most likely to be hit severely. Though there are some families who may not be able to avoid the effects of the recession, they can make changes that can improve their situations and help them prepare for the future, while they wait for an economic upswing,

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Nigeria’s Q3,2020 Recession, below are the implications on families and households

  • Rising food inflation of over 17% will impact the cost of food prices as the festive season beckons.
  • Purchasing power parity of Nigerian households is challenged due to the economic situation.
  • Marital issues crop up, as financial pressures can damage mental health which can lead to depression and frustration in marriages.
  • The low-interest yield environment in the Nigerian capital market also affects appetite for savings in the fixed income market.

READ: Emefiele tells economists to stop “overdramatizing” analysis that can create Panic

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The unfortunate condition could be managed by families with these measures:

  • Families are advised to cut down costs ruthlessly, especially in this festive period. Have a reasonable festive celebration.
  • They should have a budget/financial plan put in place for the year 2021 as no one knows how things will unfold.
  • There is a need to have another stream of income or work overtime to sustain your family during this period and this can be achieved if you are skillful.
  • It is also advisable to purchase all you need for the festive season now, as prices of goods and services might triple because of the festive period.
  • It is crucial for some families to switch to cheaper schools around with the same qualities and standards to reduce expenses.
  • FMCGs are already tailoring the sachet-economy to the lower-class families whose earnings have dropped this year.
  • Households experiencing financial difficulties during this period are advised to position themselves to see how they can benefit from the various interventions from the Government for citizens.
  • Couples should have conversations around their finances and prioritize expenses while adapting to the new economic realities and coping with necessary adjustments

READ: Nigerian economy going into recession, might contract by -8.9% – Finance Minister

What Government can do to enhance the economy

  • Tax rates should be reduced on individuals, corporation, and small businesses. This high tax rate is affecting many small-scale businesses. Foreign investors will also be encouraged by the reduction in tax rate. This will increase inflow of dollars to Nigeria’s economy, and ultimately increase investment and standard of living. It will solve the problem of high exchange rate.
  • It is important for the government to curtail any unnecessary expenditure and focus more on expanding her export earnings and production through wise investment. Putting funds into the economy is a good idea, but there is need for diversification, allowing the free flow of naira and stabilizing the oil sector, modernizing agricultural sector. By this, Nigeria can spend her way out of recession wisely.
  • Enhanced Access to Credit: Here, the Nigerian government, especially the federal and the state government, should grant soft loans to small and medium scale enterprises, to enable them boost gross domestic product (GDP) of the country. In the same vein, agricultural credit should be given to farmers to enhance adequate food production and reduce the bike of farm produce in the country (Nigeria).
  • Nigerian Government should increase its expenditure on skills. It is only skills that lead to productivity and competitiveness as a nation. So, government should invest in skills acquisition in ICT, Telecommunications, Agro-allied, Sports, Vocational training among others. The training should be 80% free practical. There is need for multiple competence, particularly among youths as a measure to curb increase in global joblessness. The greatest challenge today in Nigeria is unemployment. The government should partner with private organizations, to organize entrepreneurship and skills acquisition programs for the youths. There should be a high level of transparency in the program to ensure the best candidates are picked. This way, Nigeria will soon see herself on top of the fastest-growing economy in Africa.
  • Increased Agricultural Production: There is need to reposition agriculture as a major driver of the economy, like in the 1960s when it was the major revenue earner in the country. Today, Nigeria spends billions of US dollars a year on the importation of agricultural products. The youths, as earlier stated, should be encouraged to go into Agri-business covering the entire value chain.

READ: World Bank: Lower oil demand may persist till 2021

Conclusion

For families, this will be a challenging time, and it will require a lot of sacrifice, adjustments and prudence in the management of resources to navigate the economic storm.

Financial institutions should be encouraged to support the real sector playing the intermediation role.

In the Fiscal Policy space from the Finance Bill 2020 the government has taken some key steps in taxation and duties to reduce the burden on families and companies, but the process must be followed through effectively for implementation.

READ: Nigeria’s oil sector contracts by 13.89%, as covid-19 plunges economy into recession

The Government should demonstrate its seriousness in policy by cutting down costs from the Federal to State, and block all the leakages ensuring that funds are invested in infrastructure, healthcare, education and security.

Nigeria is a nation with resilient people. Families should remember that this is just challenging period to navigate what has been an unprecedented year in the nation’s socio-economic space.

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Recession; proactive measures not cyclical factors can resuscitate economy

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released the GDP report for Q3 2020 which officially confirmed the economy has slipped into a recession.

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FG warns Nigerians about on-going N3million COVID-19 grant scam, IMF, World bank loans, Over 56% of 2019 budget expenditure was released for capital projects , FG changes decision to sell stake of oil assets in JVs, Finance Bill: Nigeria exempts small businesses from Company Income Tax , Finance Bill is for the good of Nigerians – Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, Nigeria, five other West African countries reject ‘Eco’ as ECOWAS single currency, FG rejects calls for tax reduction, tax relief for donors to intervention funds, Nigerian economy going into recession, might contract by -8.9% - Finance Minister, Nigeria to spend $33.20 billion in 2021 up 17.2%, will spend 25% of budget on debt servicing - Finance Ministry, COVID -19: FG accesses $750m loans from World Bank for states

Earlier this week, the Minister of Finance, Budget & National Planning, Zainab Ahmed attended the 26th Nigerian Economic Summit and in her presentation highlighted some of the steps and investments the government is making to bring the economy out of a recession. Some of the points she highlighted were; stimulating the economy by preventing business collapse through ensuring liquidity, retaining and create jobs through support to labour intensive sectors such as agriculture, undertake growth-enhancing and job-creating infrastructural investments in roads, rails, solar power and communications technologies, promoting manufacturing and local production across all levels as well as advocating the use of made in Nigeria goods & services. She also highlighted focus on pro-poor spending as a strategy to mitigate the impact of covid-19 on poor households.

We recall that during the weekend, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released the GDP report for Q3 2020 which officially confirmed the economy has slipped into a recession. Following the 6.10% contraction recorded in Q2 2020, the economy further contracted though at a decelerating rate of 3.62% in Q3 2020. We reckon that prior to the covid-19 crisis, economic growth had began to slow with Q1 2020 GDP growth of 1.87% trailing prior 5-quarter average of 2.29% (excluding Q1 2020). The economy has largely survived on an oil-led recovery which we consider cyclical with other core sectors lagging and reeling from the fallout of the impacts of the 2016/17 recession.

In our view, the government needs to be proactive and strategic about policies it intends to adopt to resuscitate the economy. The focus on social welfare, fiat-led interventions in agriculture, emphasis on infrastructure development and advocacy for local manufacturing is reminiscent of prior strategies that can’t be really be considered successful. In our opinion, the economy is in dire need of influx of investments and adequate skill pool to spearhead resource allocation, which we believe can be provided by the private sector. Thus, the public sector should in our view invest in tackling structural issues around ease of business operations (borrowing costs, regulatory & licensing bureacracies/inconsistencies, public agency corruption & FX policies etc.) as well as strengthening regulatory & legal frameworks while the private sector drives the investments for accelerated growth in manufacturing, infrastructural development, agriculture and other core sectors.

In our view, supporting a free market-led economy (given the more organised nature of the private sector than the public sector) would see a return of foreign direct investments into the Nigerian economy while local entrepreneurs would be motivated to take more risks to develop businesses. The outlook for oil prices remain weak and production levels may remain below historical levels as OPEC attempts to keep price stable. Thus, the possibility of a cyclical recovery is limited, only proactive measures to correct long term structural issues would restore the economy on the path of accelerated inclusive growth.


CSL Stockbrokers Limited, Lagos (CSLS) is a wholly owned subsidiary of FCMB Group Plc and is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigeria. CSLS is a member of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

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