Global Financial Literacy: The Haves and Have-Nots

CA - 2016-1-7 - Global LiteracyA new survey by the S&P organization—the S&P Global FinLit Survey—measured financial literacy across a wide spectrum of countries around the world. More than 150,000 randomly selected individuals in 140 countries were asked to answer five multiple-choice questions regarding investment diversification, the ability of income to stay on par with spending (or vice versa), interest payments and compounding investment returns. If individuals could correctly answer three out of the five questions, they were deemed to be financially literate.

So how did we do? Only 57% of the Americans surveyed were able to correctly answer three out of the five questions. But as you’ll see from the accompanying chart, that put the U.S. in the upper echelon of nations overall, ranking number 14 behind Finland (#10), Australia (#9), Germany (#8), the Netherlands (#7), the UK (#6), Canada (#5), Israel (#4) and the three top-scoring countries: Sweden, Denmark and Norway—all Scandinavian, which probably means they cheat by actually including financial literacy in their regulator educational curriculum.

Not surprisingly, poorer countries tended to be less financially literate, and the survey found wide discrepancies between adults living in the richest 60% of households in each country vs. those in the poorest 40%. For instance, the U.S. saw a disparity of 64% literate (wealthiest households) vs. 47% (poorest). The conclusion: financial ignorance can carry an invisible lifetime cost.

Does that mean that U.S. policymakers will add a financial literacy curriculum to our nation’s high schools, as a way to increase the prosperity of our overall society? Let’s not hold our breath.


About Objectively Speaking

Tom Batterman, founder of Vigil Trust & Financial Advocacy and Financial Fiduciaries, LLC is in the business of representing the best financial interests of his clients. Having provided objective, fee-only financial management services for over two decades, he specializes in managing the investment and related financial affairs of individuals and mutual insurance companies who do not have the time, interest or expertise to manage such matters on their own. As an objective, unbiased professional who takes on a fiduciary responsibility to his clients, he guides clients to the financial decisions they would make themselves if they had years of training and experience and the time and expertise to fully research and understand all of their options. Founded in 2010 as an outgrowth of Vigil Trust & Financial Advocacy, Financial Fiduciaries, LLC is a financial management solution for individuals and mutual insurance companies who recognize they do not have the time, interest or expertise to properly attend to their financial matters on their own. While there are many financial “advisors”, most of them have investment products to sell and the “advice” they provide is geared toward getting their clients to engage in a purchase. As one of the rare subset of advisors known as “fiduciary advisors”, Financial Fiduciaries does not sell any investment product so its guidance is not compromised by conflicts of interest which plague ordinary advisors. Prior to his employment in the financial industry in financial advocacy and trust positions, he worked at a private law practice in the Wausau area in the areas of estate planning, tax, retirement planning, corporate organizations and real estate. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the UW-Madison Law School and has during his career held Series 7, 24 and 65 securities licenses. A longtime resident of the Wausau, Wisconsin Area, Tom is active in the community. He enjoys golf, curling, skiing, fishing, traveling and spending time with his family.
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