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financial skills and social inclusion

Money skills should be put on the national school curriculum to stop people sleepwalking into debt

A nationwide research from Thoughtworks on the future of financial services reveals a big shift away from profit and price, with far greater importance on social inclusion, money management skills and fairer banking practices.

Forget English and Maths - almost two in three people (64%) say money management should become mandatory on the school national curriculum - and 52% would like to see laws passed to ensure every adult can open a bank account.


With Britain’s household debt mountain at a new peak of £15,385, 1.5 million British adults remaining ‘unbanked’ and the payday lending market soaring from £330 million to £3.7 billion since 2006, a Thoughtworks study conducted in 2019, reveals parents are demanding action to ensure every child leaves school with an understanding of money and how to make informed financial decisions as they begin adult life.


As part of a wide-ranging study on the future of financial services in Britain, Thoughtworks asked 2,036 adults what needed to be done by 2030 for financial services companies to better serve its customers. The findings reveal a big shift away from profit and price, with the public placing far greater importance on the role banks need to play to support social mobility and to help make society fairer and more inclusive.




As well as Brits calling for money management to be mandated on the national curriculum (64%) – most keenly felt by students (67%) and retiree’s (69%) - more than a third of respondents (39%) believed that banks also had a role to play to educate people on money skills, such as budgeting and building up a savings plan. These people foresaw a stronger role for banks as high street lifestyle hubs where people could pop in for help and money advice.


Social inclusion


Survey respondents also called time on financial services companies cherry-picking the best customers and leaving millions financially excluded. The majority of people surveyed (52%) said it should become law that every adult has the right to basic banking services, so they can make transactions, deposit money and make bank transfers. Social inclusion was a big theme: 37% of people said banks should do more to help customers who have previously felt excluded or under-served - and 49% felt banks should provide inclusion programmes for the elderly to ensure they feel comfortable with the technology needed to manage money in the digital age. Almost three in five respondents aged over 55 (57%) feared being left behind in the age of digitised personal banking.


Universal access to technology


Whilst technology offers greater personalisation and freedom in the way people manage their financial affairs, there was also a strong feeling that steps must be taken to ensure technology doesn’t create exclusion in the future. Overall, 42% of respondents felt that banks should provide people with access to online banking in their branches, to ensure that people who could not afford to buy laptops and mobile devices for the home were not unfairly excluded from financial services.


Furthermore, 40% of adults also believed there needed to be far greater transparency on how credit scoring worked, so people could better understand the impact of the decisions they make and have greater control over the data that banks hold on them, how they use it and who they share it with. This view was most strongly felt by the under 25 age group (44%), those that are growing up in the age of big data.


Re-birth of a savings culture


Perhaps a reaction to the rising levels of consumer debt, many people wanted to see the Government take action to encourage a stronger savings culture in Britain. This view was most strongly felt by the over 55 age group (49%), the generation that grew up in a world where people were more likely to save up for things. With young people today more likely to start adult life with significant debts and finding it harder to get a foot on the property ladder, Thoughtworks' study suggests the public recognises that there needs to be a healthy re-balancing between a saving and a credit culture in modern Britain.


How financial services needs to change by 2030: 


  • Money skills on national curriculum - 64%
  • It should become law that everyone has right to banking services - 52%
  • Bank inclusion programme for the elderly, to ensure they are comfortable using technology to manage their money - 49%
  • Government to encourage a savings culture in Britain - 45%
  • Banks to provide access to mobile technology in-store, for those that can’t afford to buy it - 42%
  • Bank chief bonuses and shareholder pidends should be based on them providing a good service to people from all "walks of life" - 41%
  • More openness on credit scoring, to understand how it works and how my data is used - 40%
  • Banks to do more to educate people on money skills - 39%
  • Banks to change from product 'shops' to 'service centres' where people can go for help and advice - 39%
  • Banks should be responsible for engaging with customers who have previously felt excluded or under-served - 37%
  • Bank chief bonuses should be based on financial health of customers not sales - 34%
  • Greater persity within financial services boards and workforce to ensure they better understand all the communities they serve - 32%
  • Financial services should be based on the family not the inpidual - 21%


Phil Hingley, Director of Financial Services at Thoughtworks UK commented: As an organisation that is helping UK and international financial services brands to prepare for the future, we wanted to get a sense from the public on how they see the financial services landscape evolving by the year 2030 – specifically, what will change, what the impact of technology would be and how society could work better as a result.


From our initial findings – and perhaps a reaction to the years of austerity and broken trust – it is clear that people are placing far greater emphasis on the social impact of banks in the future. The call for money education to hit the national curriculum is, perhaps, a reaction to the deep-rooted inequality and financial hardship that many live with today.


For the future, people want to see greater education, greater equality, and a fairer society - and for the financial services industry to be part of the solution, not the problem. Far from imagining a future where banks have left the high street, most people would like the banks and their branches to play a more relevant role in their lifestyles and communities. 


Click here to download the 'The Future of Banking’ report.