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The Conclusion does more than synthesise the key arguments presented in the book. It explains the importance of my research findings to our day-to-day lives. Here I argue that the project on financial education ignores the complexity of consumer day-to-day financial decision-making. The financial education project assumes that greater consumer access to information and education on money matters will help us to better navigate financial markets and make appropriate and prudent financial choices. However, this approach simplifies our financial decision-making and ignores the socio-economic, cultural and political environment within which we make our choices. As such, consumers who, for instance, fail to save money for their retirement might do so not through lack of financial education but rather because of lack of stable income, which prevents them from effective retirement planning. This finding is of particular importance to all of us since the current focus on financial education as a tool for consumer protection shifts regulatory and policy focus from structural problems present in financialised, political economies to individual responsibility. More importantly, these financial education initiatives and programmes mis-attribute various socio-economic problems to people’s lack of understanding or inability to successfully navigate the financialised world. Contrary to what has been suggested in the conventional literature, financial education largely fails to strengthen consumer protection or reduce consumer exposure to financial risks. In fact, financial education contributes to further marginalisation of consumers who are the least capable of managing their financial and economic lives through mere information, education and advice.
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- Chapter 8
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