Dawn Thomas (left) and Anne Palmer

When Wealth Designers senior financial adviser Dawn Thomas asked a group of Year 9 students at all girls Penrhos College which cohort has the least amount of superannuation, they were shocked to learn the answer.

“Being kids, they threw out the most imaginative answer, which I’ve never heard before,” Thomas tells Professional Planner. “They said babies.”

While Thomas conceded that’s not technically wrong, the correct answer is women.

“I said ‘do you know that women retire with half the amount of superannuation that men do?’ They were like, ‘what?’ And I said, ‘Do you think that’s fair?’ And they said, ‘No!’”

The presentation by Thomas, along with Horizon Group of Companies financial advisers Remo Venditti, is part of a program that goes into high schools to teach students about budgeting, financial goals, compounding, investing, and super.

FAAA general manager of education and professionalism Anne Palmer says this is part of an “informal” project by the association to teach financial literacy to students.

“Dawn and [Remo] developed their own content in liaison with the FAAA, which is fantastic,” she says.

“Usually, members are asked by their local school to come and give a talk and then we [the FAAA] will support them through that approach.”

A vital need

Palmer says teaching financial literacy to young people is “incredibly important”.

“[It] is probably one of the most important subjects they’ll ever learn going forward. It sets [them] up for success in the future, not just financially but everything.”

Thomas agrees. “We always say the foundation of any financial plan is understanding your cash flow and budgeting,” she says.

“Even if [children] don’t know what to do with their birthday money, or what they’re getting from chores, it’s going to be hard for them to understand what they’re tracking towards. We talk about understanding your cash flow and your budget, and what [your goals are]. What are you saving for? Can we use the idea of saving over debt?”

Thomas adds the earlier people begin the practice of saving for things instead of relying on incurring debts and borrowing money, the better.