Financial literacy generally refers to the ability to understand and effectively use financial knowledge and skills.
Being financially literate enables people and SMEs to make informed decisions that align with their financial goals and values and, importantly, to avoid costly mistakes, such as taking on too much debt or investing in high-risk products without fully understanding the risks involved.
Financial literacy is particularly important in today's complex, fast-evolving and increasingly digitalized financial landscape, which includes a wide range of financial products and services that can be difficult to understand without proper education and training.
Financial education goes hand in hand with financial literacy. While financial literacy focuses on knowledge and skills, financial education is the process through which individuals acquire that knowledge and develop those skills—it equips individuals with practical tools and strategies to effectively manage their money, build wealth, and secure their financial future.
As highlighted in IFAC’s recent article, the cost of financial illiteracy affects not just financial illiterate individuals, but society as a whole. On a broader scale, a financially literate population contributes to economic growth, financial stability, and reduced wealth inequality. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) encourages the involvement of national associations or self-regulatory bodies to help implement financial literacy and education initiatives. Implementation occurs by providing dedicated material through the development of training programs and/or by lending their support for public or civil society initiatives. Many professional accountancy organizations have already taken on the challenge (see Promoting Financial Literacy: Professional Accountancy Organizations Take on the Challenge).
As part of its public interest mandate, IFAC is committed to advocating for, promoting, and facilitating financial education for individuals, communities and economies, in order to help improve financial literacy across the world. As part of this work, IFAC is now a proud affiliate member of the OECD’s International Network on Financial Education (INFE).
A few weeks after IFAC’s participation in INFE’s latest symposium on financial literacy in the evolving digital financial landscape, IFAC’s Director of Governance Linda Lach talked to three financial education and literacy champions in our network. All three champions come from diverse regions of the world, yet they share a passion for financial literacy.
The interviews of these outstanding women accountants in the public sector provide a unique opportunity to learn from their successes and challenges, gain valuable insights, and find inspiration for your own career.
Whether you're a young professional, an aspiring accountant, or an industry veteran, prepare to be inspired, motivated, and empowered by the remarkable accomplishments of Rania Uwaydah Mardini, Paula Franco and Vanessa Bowen.
Meet Financial Literacy Pioneer Paula Franco
Paula Franco is a certified accountant, tax consultant and trainer. She owns an accountancy and tax consultancy SME and has been the President of Ordem dos Contabilistas Certificados in Portugal since 2018. She is the author of technical opinions and articles, as well as an interlocutor in clarification sessions and seminars, on taxation and accounting in Portugal and all worldwide. She imported the best practices and international contributions to the profession in Portugal as a member and leader of groups such as EFAA, FCM and CILEA. She is president of the Portuguese-speaking Union of Accountants and Auditors (UCALP).
Meet Financial Literacy Pioneer Vanessa Bowen
Vanessa Bowen is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and Master Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner (NLP). She is also the Founder of Mint Worthy Co. Inc., a personal finance coaching platform that helps women develop positive financial habits so they can take control of their finances by changing their relationship with money. After ten years in corporate finance and public accounting where she worked with international businesses in both Canada and the US, Vanessa shifted her focus to pursue her passion for personal finance, and now empowers women to live life on their own financial terms.
Meet Financial Literacy Pioneer Rania Uwaydah Mardini
Rania Uwaydah Mardini is a member of the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants, a Senior Lecturer at the Olayan School of Business at the American University of Beirut and an advisor to the United Nations Development Programme Regional Bureau for Arab States. She served as a member of the International Federation of Accountant’s (IFAC’s) International Panel on Accountancy Education (2019-2022) and its International Accounting Education Standards Board (2017-2019) and chaired the latter's Public Sector Accounting, Reporting, and Assurance Task Force.