Gaining access to understandable, accurate financial information remains the top challenge consumer face to making good financial decisions, according to a survey by Family Financial Network.
FFN conducted a survey of parents and educators between Nov. 1-2 to provide information to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as part of a request for information.
“It’s no surprise that getting objective, trustworthy information continues to be a challenge for so many Americans when much of that information comes from companies pushing products,” Jennifer Openshaw, chair of Consumer Action’s Advisory Board, said in a statement. “The sheer complexity of making decisions – like finding the best mortgage or the best way to climb out of debt – often leaves consumers at a loss and ultimately wasting precious time.”
Openshaw said financial education, even down to corporate brochures, can often be difficult to understand because “they’re overly complicated, not actionable, and simply fail to be relevant to consumers.”
The survey also found that the financial topic “net worth” that’s often overlooked in financial education programs ranked second as an issue or topic that should be taught.
Among other key findings are:
- The two top financial concepts respondents say that consumers need financial education on are “saving and investing” (23 percent) followed by “building overall net worth” (18 percent).
- Twenty one percent of respondents indicated the top challenge leaders face in providing good, effective financial education is “making it simple or easy to understand."
- When asked to name the attitudes or characteristics that best help consumers make better financial decisions, respondents indicated “viewing finances as a priority” (77 percent); "resourcefulness" (67 percent); "patience" (65 percent); and "persistence" (57 percent).
- Respondents indicated the top three ways to distribute financial education are: the workplace (59 percent); local colleges (40 percent); and smart phones (39 percent).
The biggest surprise discovered by the survey, says Openshaw, was the number of respondents who indicated that financial education should be mandatory in schools. “We can’t underestimate the impact of economic stress,” she said. “Not only did respondents say it’s creating new challenges, but clearly it underscores the importance of financial education now more than ever.”