April 15, 2019
Viewpoint

The business community needs to teach financial literacy

Martin F. Connors, Jr.

A bi-annual study of high school financial literacy by Champlain College of Vermont has given Massachusetts a grade of "F" when it comes to educating our public high school students on money matters. In 2017, the latest year the study was conducted, our state was one of 11, nationwide, branded with that scarlet letter.

In fact, Massachusetts has earned a failing grade in teaching financial literacy to our high school students for three studies in a row, going all the way back to 2013.

Not only is this a failure of our education system, it's a failure of our business community.

Failing businesses

Companies large and small depend on employees to be financially literate – both at work and at home – in order to contribute to their communities. Young people who can't balance a checkbook or manage their credit grow into older people who live paycheck to paycheck, declare bankruptcy over credit card debt, or lose their homes to foreclosure.

Similarly, businesses can't operate, hire employees or pay salaries when they are led by people who don't know how to manage profit & loss, benefits, and inventory. When businesses fail – or don't get started in the first place – that hurts our economy. It eventually makes us a place where people can't find jobs, don't want to live, and abandon for the call of opportunity elsewhere.

We simply can't afford to keep churning out, year after year, students who don't know the basics of effective money management.

Financial-planning programs

Rollstone Bank & Trust's series of community and youth-focused programs are working on turning that "F" into an "A." Through partnerships with community organizations, public libraries and local school districts, our educational seminars (all free of charge) are inspiring confidence and ability in our young people on managing money.

We're not just focused on kids: our wealth management division, led by Senior Vice President Melissa Maranda, offers training on basic investing, social security and retirement planning for everyone who wants to learn.

We urge other businesses to support our educators in helping our young people learn about money: How to count it, save it, and yes, spend it – wisely. If learning multiplication tables and state capitals needs to be everyone's job, then so should financial literacy.

Martin F. Connors, Jr. is president & CEO of Rollstone Bank & Trust in Worcester.

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