Balancing responsibilities – financial literacy
In Australia there is an obligation to promote the informed participation of financial consumers while in South Africa there is an obligation to educate consumers. The Australian obligation is concerned with the financial system as a whole while the South African obligation has generally been focused on general financial education as a tool to promote financial inclusion. There is no obligation for consumers to attain a minimum standard of literacy in credit or finance generally. Financial literacy is one among a number of strategies directed towards inducing changes in consumer behaviour. It sits between the old regulatory model which relies on disclosure of information for effective and rational decision-making and a newer regulatory model which takes into account individuals' perceptions and behavioural biases and may seek to accommodate for these by imposing obligations on financial services providers beyond the mere disclosure of information. Financial literacy is generally the ability to understand how money works, how a person can earn money or make it more. It specifically refers to the set of skills and knowledge that allows people to make informed and effective decisions with all of their financial resources. This article discusses Australian and South African legal obligations and social responsibilities aimed at promoting the financial literacy of consumers.
Keywords: Financial literacy; financial inclusion; financial education; consumer education; disclosure of information; legal obligation to educate consumers; legal obligation to disclose information