Financial planning

Financial empowerment through education

Financial literacy is a critical component of building a more equitable and inclusive society, and by sharing stories and examples of good practice, we hope to encourage more individuals and organisations to take action towards this important goal. As part of a new series looking at the work of the Money Awareness and Inclusion Awards (the MAIAs), Caroline Underhill, our Global Marketing Director and Head of CSR, hears from one of the 2022 winners, KFI GLOBAL, about its work to empower young people with financial skill.

Educating children is a non-negotiable in today’s society, and across the world, there’s a strong sense of the importance of ensuring young people develop good skills which can set them up for life. But one area which is often overlooked is financial education, or helping children and young people develop strong financial literacy. Personal finance skills are crucial to everyday life, needed by each and every one of us – whether it’s knowing how to set up a bank account or pay a bill, understanding why saving for the future is important or knowing when and how to start investing. In today’s world, it does seem rather out of step that students might study economics to degree level but can leave further education with no concept of how to manage their own finances.

An innovative initiative, based in Dubai, is hoping to change things. KFI GLOBAL was founded by Marilyn Pinto in 2018 with the aim of growing smarter, richer, braver teens. The KFI in the organisation’s name stands for Kids Financial Initiative, and the overarching purpose is to teach children to make smarter financial decisions. Engaging with children early helps ensure they have the skill set to make the right financial decisions throughout their lives. It also protects them from making choices which might cause them problems later on; taking out loans, overstretching themselves financially or falling into debt.

The bedrock of KFI is a workshop programme. Each session takes place over two weeks with two age bands available – one for 9–12 year-olds and the other for teenagers. Sessions cover how to manage money, budgeting, common financial tools such as credit cards, debt, scams, and an introduction to investing. The workshops are focused on empowering young people, delivered by those with expertise and experience in teaching youngsters, and with no attempt to market financial products. The key is to embed critical thinking, and help young people develop their own analytical reasoning when looking after their own money. Since launching, more than 6,500 young people have completed the training.

“Financial education is a critical life-skill and one that impacts every aspect of our lives. Equipping young people with this skill allows them to step up, stand out and live a life on their own terms.”

Marilyn Pinto, Founder, KFI GLOBAL

Marilyn’s inspiration for setting up the organisation came when she realised that her own children, although academically smart, were pretty clueless about money. And when she looked around, the same issue was apparent with the children of her friends and colleagues. Despite a surplus of research showing how financial literacy can literally change lives, Marilyn was astonished that there wasn’t a programme or scheme which could help her children. So, she set up her own.

Today the programme is being used in schools and universities across the Middle East and has achieved widespread acknowledgement. KFI GLOBAL was a winner at the first ever Money Awareness and Inclusion Awards (MAIAs) in 2022, where the project was recognised as ‘Best For School Age Education’. This year Marilyn has been invited to help judge the awards.  Today KFI’s focus is on creating a scalable programme which can help thousands of young people around the world.

“Winning the Money Awareness and Inclusion Awards was a game-changer and has given us both international recognition and credibility.”

Marilyn Pinto, Founder, KFI GLOBAL

Highlighting the work of organisations like KFI GLOBAL, who are helping improve financial skills, is important as part of our own focus on helping to close the gaps when it comes to financial literacy and championing the financial education of young people around the world. Our work with generations of families has highlighted the importance of teaching children and grandchildren about how to make good financial decisions, to help them to build wealth and achieve financial freedom.

To discuss any aspect of your financial journey, or putting in place good financial plans for the next generation of your family, please contact your nearest office.