Modern Young Finance: weekly round-up 11

@SophieRobson2

A generation Y-er’s verdict on the latest developments in the world of young people and personal finance. To include your story in next week’s round-up, find me on Twitter.

PAYMENTS

Over to Ireland for this one, as ATM operators are to begin dispensing 5 and 10 euro notes in a bid to help those on very low budgets. Unlike the rest of the Eurozone, ATMs in Ireland generally only give out 20 and 50 euro notes. This can make things very difficult for someone who has, for instance, 19 euros in their account, as they are effectively unable to access it, without going to a bank branch. It is thought that lower denominations wear out more quickly due to greater frequency of circulation.

Any initiative that focuses on increasing financial inclusion is welcome, but this pilot scheme also raises questions about the adequacy of existing bank branch opening hours and the effectiveness of online banking provision for those on a low income. Perhaps these should also be addressed to guarantee the strength of payments infrastructure for the financially ‘less included’?

EMPLOYMENT

A new survey by PwC has revealed the changing attitudes of generation y to work. Where older workers are more likely to look for good pay – and do whatever it takes to secure a good salary – younger people are more concerned with their work-life balance. They were also more open about their pay, with 43% having spoken about it with their colleagues, compared with 24% of older workers.

According to Gaenor Bagley, head of people at PwC:

“Millennials want more from their jobs than just financial reward. A strong and supportive team, flexibility and work/life balance are far more likely to keep this generation motivated at work and many would be willing to forgo pay rises and promotions for greater flexibility. Millennials view work as a thing, rather than a place, so companies will need to free themselves from the traditional nine to five mentality if they want to attract and retain this generation of workers.

“The Millennial generation will make up 50% of the workforce by 2020 so it is vital employers understand what motivates this generation. Many companies will have to completely re-think how they attract and reward their workers, or risking losing the best talent to companies which adapt to meet their needs.”

However, other research indicates that young people should be grateful to have a job at all, never mind having opinions on their work-life balance.

The Economist has found that the number of people out of work globally is almost that of the population of the US, with 26 million NEETs worldwide. The International Labour Organisation revealed that 75m people around the world are looking for a job, and 262 million people across the world are economically inactive.

FINANCIAL EDUCATION

In my opinion, financial inclusion charities have often faced an uphill climb to get the recognition and support they need from multinational corporations, policy makers and the public at large.

So I was heartened this week to read that a dozen or so of the most influential have taken matters into their own hands, with the launch of Take Charge UK – www.takechargeuk.org , funded by Standard Life . This partnership unites organisations “already working to give young people the assets to make them financially capable, enterprising and also employable”.

Here’s a list of objectives from their website:

1.    Establish a living ‘State of the Nation’ map of provision of all financial education and enterprise education initiatives across the UK, in order to identify and target gaps in coverage to beneficiaries

2.    Map the assets (skills, attitudes, knowledge and understanding) that young people need in order to be financially capable, enterprising and also employable

3.    Identify an additional set of broader skills that make young people employable such as critical thinking, decision making and teamwork

4.    Devise a sustainable five year strategy for the Take Charge movement informed by evidence, innovative ideas and good practice. A key part of the strategy development will be taking a step back and asking what this will mean, where we go next, what success will look like.

The first objective in particular is very close to my heart – I have long advocated a ‘join-the-dot’ website for financial inclusion advocates. Transact comes the closest to achieving this, but the financial education landscape in the UK has a long way to go before it is as cohesive as its counterparts in, for example, New Zealand and South Africa.

Organisations involved include, to a greater or lesser extent: Pfeg, Brathay Trust, Girlguiding, Prince’s TrustYoung EnterpriseCredit Action, Learning to Work, MyBnk, National Association of Student Money Advisors, National Skills Academy for Financial Services, National Youth Agency, PSHE Association, The Aldridge Foundation, Toynbee Hall, UK Youth Parliament, Vi-Ability, vInspired, and Young Chamber.

BANKING

An interesting piece on the BBC news website looks at the future of bank branches, and in the UK, and whether we can benefit from some of the innovations taking place place in branches over in Canada. The North Shore Credit Union in Vancouver turns traditional expectations of customer service on its head by offering cappuccinos and hot towels to customers. Not only this but it lets you drop your children off at the Kids Zone.

This is also happening with new entrants to the UK retail banking scene, such as Metro Bank, which offers free coin changing machines (anyone who has ever tried to take a bag full of coppers to the bank will know how difficult it is to offload them nowadays).

“Increasingly, banking will no longer be about where you go, but what you do online. As a result, branch investment will decline over time. Having a strong, emotional, physical brand is a leg up for online branding,”

“First the telephone and now the internet allows us to pay our bills and choose our investments from almost anywhere. There can be no doubt that face-to-face contact at the bank branch has been in steep decline for ages,” he says.

“It is time to question why we have bank branches at all. Sceptics might say that banks want to keep us coming to branches so that they can sell us something we don’t need – and we’re much less likely to buy unnecessary stuff from banks on the internet.”

In my case, slicker, brighter, safer and more informative branches would be a nice thing to have, but I am not sure they would draw me in beyond curiosity nor would I want to pay for them”.

“I have already left a bank when it told me their in-branch deposits had a higher interest rate than their online offering. My view of this was, ‘Hey, not only do they want me to waste my time going to the branch, but they are also going to try and sell me something – no thanks.'”

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