While we have formal education in core subjects such as mathematics,
history, and English as part of the standard elementary and secondary
school curriculum, financial literacy is only beginning to become part of
the education system.
Yet we know that generally when it comes to learning skills, whether it is
a second language, a musical instrument, or downhill skiing, the earlier is
generally the better. It seems, however, that the teaching of financial
skills and financial education is often delayed until our children are in
their late 20s and is often comprised of an informal mentoring process
based on family discussion and tips, rather than a formal, objective
“Too little, too late” perhaps best describes the present reality of
financial education in most families. In RBC’s recent Wealth Transfer Report 2017, key findings include that the key to
raising financial literacy and building financial confidence in our
children is to start early, and that most of those surveyed believe a
structured approach is more effective than an unstructured one.
A key finding of the Report (which we would likely all agree with) is that
our present societal values include a reticence and lack of comfort in
talking about financial matters, inheritance, and death, leading to
inaction and a recurring cycle of inadequate financial guidance
Simply repeating how our parents informally educated us is arguably not
sufficient. Life and financial matters are more complex, and without proper
financial management skills, our children’s financial wellbeing and what
they stand to inherit from us is at risk.
It seems the wealth management conversation is moving forward to now
emphasize the importance of an open dialogue on money issues and to stress
the need for greater financial literacy and a more formal approach. I would
offer a comparison – many of the present generation of Baby Boomers learned
to drive a car under the instruction of a parent, as driver’s ed was just
beginning. But now, few, if any, of our children learn those skills without
a formal education course with a qualified instructor.
Navigating through the complexity of our modern financial world and
arriving at the desired destination intact and without any accidents along
the route requires now more than ever a comprehensive and formal approach
and open dialogue.
is the principal of the Toronto-based trusts and estates law firm
O’Sullivan Estate Lawyers. She practices exclusively in the areas of estate planning, estate
litigation, advising executors, trustees and beneficiaries, and
administration of trusts and estates. This article originally appeared
O’Sullivan Estate Lawyers blog. Reprinted with permission.
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