Consumers in financial services: how to enhance their financial education

Welcome remarks by Chair Petra Hielkema at the ESAs conference on financial education and literacy

Delivered virtually, 1 February 2022.

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Ladies and gentlemen

On behalf of all three European Supervisory Authorities, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to today’s high-level conference on financial education and literacy.

For those of you familiar with our work, you will know that – above all – we are here to protect consumers.

While good supervision and regulation both underpin a fair and strong financial service sector – one that is for the benefit of consumers, there is also an important role for financial education and literacy in ensuring that people understand their overall financial situation and can make informed choices when buying financial products. And this is why, when the three ESAs were created in 2011, the EU legislators mandated us to coordinate education initiatives of national authorities.

Financially literate people are more aware of where their own risks lie and which products will help them mitigate risk.

This entails more than being able to interpret a statement, but rather having broader understanding of finances, including not just the situation today, but also what will be needed for the future.

In contributing to education programmes, focusing on clear, understandable information, looking how products are developed and distributed, as well as whether they offer value for money, all three European Supervisory Authorities place great importance on their work on financial education and consumer protection.

And so a next logical step is then today’s event: our first conference on financial education and literacy.

Under the theme of how we can enhance the financial education of consumers in financial services, over the next two days, we have brought together a range of excellent speakers who will share their expertise on different topics related to financial literacy.

We will cover areas like how we can empower citizens through financial literacy and how financial education can support financial resilience, in particular for vulnerable groups.

We will also look at the challenges faced by consumers from digitalisation – challenges such as cybersecurity and scams. And we will look at what consumers need to help them feel comfortable in the green transition.

Moreover, we will discuss how we can move forward on the agenda after this conference, ensuring that information shared today, leads to results in 2022 and beyond.

I am sure that you will enjoy the different sessions and I very much encourage you to actively participate.

Now, to open the conference, I am delighted to welcome Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, or the UNSGSA for short.

As Special Advocate, Queen Máxima is a leading global voice on advancing universal access to and responsible usage of affordable, effective and safe financial services for positive outcomes.

Your Majesty, the floor is yours.