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Two close friends open their computers and work together in a cafe AccountingWEB Teaching financial literacy

Sharing knowledge with Gen Z can benefit us all


With younger people struggling to navigate financial matters, this year’s Talk Money Week encourages open conversations about money. Could this be an opportunity for accountants to bring on the next generation?

9th Nov 2023
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Financial literacy encompasses the ability to understand and manage money wisely, whether it’s budgeting, saving, investing or making informed financial decisions. However, The Money and Pensions Service reported: “Less than half of children and young people aged 7 to 17 get a meaningful financial education at home or at school.”

School outreach programmes and work experience therefore play a pivotal role in providing knowledge and opportunities as well as ensuring everyone has access to essential financial concepts. 

It is also a way for accountants and financial professionals to engage with the community and take on the role of educators and mentors – not only contributing to the success of these programmes, but also providing opportunities for both themselves and the next generation.

Talk Money Week (6–10 November) is a chance to persuade others to have open conversations about money. “Do one thing” is the theme for this year where stakeholders, partners, organisations and businesses are invited to encourage their audiences to do something that could enhance their financial literacy and wellbeing.

Financial literacy in young people 

The absence of financial education in the school curriculum is leaving many young people with a lack of knowledge in key areas such as opening up a bank account or understanding what their payslip means. 

“Tax isn’t part of the national curriculum, and often isn’t touched on in schools as teachers don’t feel confident enough to cover it. As a result, too many young people leave school not understanding how tax works or how it will affect them,” explained Emma Rawson, a technical officer at the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT). 

This lack of financial literacy was also noticed by Ben Steele, managing director of Streets Steele. “Not only do you not get taught finance but you don’t get explained what it is, what it means, the different positions, careers and the different gateways,” he said. 

Providing opportunities for Gen Z

As a result of this, it is essential that conversations are being held to educate younger people on managing finances, learning how things work and addressing career prospects. 

Rawson stated that one of the ways the ATT does this is through videos that can be accessed by anyone wanting to learn more. A recent example of this is a child’s guide to VAT (see below). 

“These cover a range of issues, including what tax is, what payslips mean and how different types of working are taxed, as well as an introduction to VAT and some of its weird and wonderful rules,” said Rawson.

These can be used in schools, and alongside this, the staff at the ATT visit schools to support and run tax sessions too. School outreach programmes benefit students massively in gaining financial knowledge and advice from experts. 

Steele was involved in a school outreach programme, where he spoke to students aged 15-16 who were thinking about their careers. He explained how it gave them confidence and an opportunity to not only learn more about finance but to pursue a career in finance. “Some of them need that opportunity to thrive,” he said. “The difference that can be made if more people visited more schools would be massive.” 

George Moss, the practice manager at Bee Motion, stated that they provide students with opportunities and education through work experience. “When our work experience students come in, it’s more than just accountancy,” he said. “They leave with more of an insight into the general world we live in.”

Taking on students, regardless of their knowledge or ability level, helps give experiences to those who may not have had access to these opportunities before Moss said.

Providing opportunities for the profession

Participating in outreach programmes or work experience is also a way for accountants to engage with the community, give back and contribute to the success of future generations.

Moss discussed how offering these types of opportunities is mutually beneficial. “For us, it plays a really important role in terms of giving back to the community as well as finding young talent. Generation Z are the people of tomorrow and it is important to be able to find the right talent now and show them those opportunities.”

Steele shared a similar view, encouraging others on the importance of teaching and inspiring young people. 

“There is a big recruitment issue in the profession and the way me and my firm are tackling it is by taking in juniors and putting them on apprenticeships,” he added. “They are what the profession needs, they are the future.”

What is one thing you could do in Talk Money Week to encourage helpful and educational conversations? Let us know in the comments below.

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