Dear Ministers, Dear Members of the Financial Litearcy Stakeholder Council, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to address you today on the adoption of Austria’s national financial literacy strategy. In so doing, Austria joins a group of over 75 countries that support their citizen’s financial literacy through evidence-based, coordinated approaches, in line with OECD recommendations.[i] The impact of the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted once more that financial literacy is an essential life skill to empower citizens, protect them from financial shocks and ensure their long-term well-being. This strategy and its implementation will support people in Austria, in particular the most vulnerable, in all aspects of their financial life—from entering the job market, to running a family, to enjoying retirement. It will help Austrians to plan for the long-term and better manage their income and expenses from an early age throughout the education system. The strategy also supports wider objectives including promoting sustainability, harnessing the benefits of digitalisation and increasing gender equality. This will contribute to optimising the strength and the quality of Austria’s economy and ensure all have the best possible opportunity to participate and benefit.
I would like to highlight three important elements of the strategy.
First, the strategy addresses vulnerabilities that can negatively affect the long-term financial well-being of the Austrian population. Austria ranks high in studies on financial literacy conducted by the OECD.[ii] Despite this, around two-thirds of adults do not make plans to manage income and expenses, around half do not have a long-term financial goal, and almost 40% cannot correctly answer a question on risk diversification.[iii] This can translate into a higher risk for debt difficulties and increased concerns about financial security in old age.
Second, the strategy was prepared in consultation with Austrian public, private, and not-for-profit financial literacy stakeholders. With thirty-nine contributors offering their expertise and experience, this important multistakeholder consultation will drive the strategy’s implementation.
Finally, I want to emphasise the excellent collaboration between the OECD, the Austrian Ministry of Finance and the European Commission’s DG REFORM in the development of this project.
The OECD is currently implementing over 150 projects with DG REFORM, and the financial literacy strategy we are launching today is clearly one of our big successes.
Over the past year and a half, we have worked together to ensure that the strategy benefitted from the highest technical expertise and from the good practices identified among members of the OECD International Network on Financial Education, in particular from within the EU.
This strategy will help citizens navigate these difficult times and set the foundations of a resilient and sustainable financial future.
The adoption by the Council of Ministers will also facilitate its contribution to wider policy objectives for the benefit of all Austrians and the economy.
You can count on the OECD to support Austria in the years to come.
[i] OECD (2020), OECD Council Recommendation on Financial Literacy, https://legalinstruments.oecd.org/en/instruments/OECD-LEGAL-0461
[ii] OECD (2020), OECD/INFE 2020 International Survey of Adult Financial Literacy, www.oecd.org/financial/education/launchoftheoecdinfeglobalfinancialliteracysurveyreport.htm
[iii] OECD (2021), Financial Literacy in Austria: Relevance, evidence and provision, www.oecd.org/finance/financial-education/austria-financial-literacy-strategy.htm