Monday, February 13, 2012

GAO Releases Highlights from Financial Literacy Forum

Last year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) convened a summit of leaders in the area of financial literacy.  Last week, the GAO got around to releasing the highlights of the summit.

The takeaways are what you might expect:  focus on k-12 and vulnerable populations; increase partnerships between non-profts, governments and private sector; test out solutions to find what works best; and leverage the unique position of the federal government.

One thing that stood out was a look at what employers can do.  Interestingly much of the past financial literacy conversation focuses (rightly) on schools.  A lot of recent conversation, however, has started to look at how we can get to those who have already left the school system.

One of the themes that emerged during the forum was that employers have a key role to play in improving the financial capability of their employees. Participants noted, for example, that employers could encourage their employees to save for emergency purposes and retirement. They also discussed the need to create incentives for employers to support healthy financial behavior by employees. GAO was also encouraged to consider taking additional steps to enhance the financial literacy of its own employees and thus serve as a model for other federal agencies.