48 states join in national investor education push (April 26-May1)

“Financial literacy” campaign targets workers, high school students

WASHINGTON (April 26, 1999)– Securities regulators in 48 states*—from Alabama to Wyoming–next week will join in a national grass-roots investor education effort to reach workers and high school students, those deemed most “at risk” in the nation’s looming financial literacy crisis.

Regulators will visit dozens of high schools across the country, hand out investor education material in shopping malls and work places, air public service ads and hold investor town meetings.

It’s all part of the “Facts on Saving and Investing Campaign,” a weeklong effort (April 26-May 1) by state securities regulators, and nearly 50 federal agencies and industry and consumer groups. Other participants range from the Securities & Exchange Commission to AARP. This year the campaign’s main focus is on young people, particularly high school students, who are forming their saving and investing habits.

“Today in school we teach kids about sex and drugs but we don’t teach them much if anything about money. That’s incredibly short-sighted,” says Peter C. Hildreth, New Hampshire’s Director of Securities Regulation and President of the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), a group representing state securities regulators. “No matter what happens to Social Security, today’s young people need to start saving and investing as early as possible. They can’t afford to procrastinate or to make the same money mistakes too many of their parents did. We have a financial literacy crisis in this country and we need to mobilize to do something about it.”

Even a little classroom time can make a difference. A recent study by the National Foundation for Financial Education found that just 10 hours of financial literacy instruction will prompt most teenagers to start saving. Besides learning how to be disciplined savers and investors, young people must learn how to spot scams and frauds, Hildreth said. “We need to teach young people the importance of doing a lot of homework before making an investment, to be skeptical and to always ask, ‘Does this sound too good to be true?’”

To teach high school seniors the fundamentals of personal finance, state securities regulators are promoting a curriculum known as “Financial Literacy 2001.” Developed by NASAA, the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) and the non-profit Investor Protection Trust, the course is now being rolled out nationwide. The ultimate goal is to reach every high school senior in the country. For more information on the program, contact the Investor Protection Trust at 703-276-1116.

* AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, D.C., GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

1999 Headlines, Newsroom