The Governor General, Lieutenant General The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mataparae immediately endeared himself to all the humans in the audience by admitting that not all his financial choices had been ideal. Followed up by a film of interviews with Kiwis responding to questions on financial literacy made the start of the conference surprisingly practical and grounded.
David Kneebone said at one point "we are some way from proving that knowledge leads to action in improving financial behaviour." That's true. International research raises some questions about whether financial education helps. This needs some explanation, which I shall try to give below, but her comment was revealing on the limits of financial education. In effect she highlighted the importance of relevance when learning. My kids are 13, 11, and 7 seven years of age. Their financial lives are still pretty simple - so the miracle of compound interest is of little interest, no matter how hard we try to explain it.
In the balance of his talk David sought to talk in terms of improving financial behaviour rather than simply knowledge. This is really the point. It is a valuable redefinition.
No one is suggesting that knowledge isn't relevant for improving financial behaviour. But between knowledge and behaviour there are a number of other factors to be considered. Relevance is the first. Which indicates that having financial choices to make is the point at which people will start to pay attention to the need for financial knowledge. Also having resources available. Then having good products, for example, to choose from. If they are all bad...
Some interesting resources are available here.