Australian initiative sets sights on NZ

by Rebecca Pike05 Dec 2018

An Australian financial services industry initiative to teach teenagers about money management and business skills could be adopted in New Zealand.

The School Entrepreneurs Program, which was started by the founder of Astute Ability Finance Group in conjunction with the MFAA, has been warmly received by NZ financial industry leaders.

It offers high school age students a course on improving their financial skills and running their own start up business.

Astute Ability’s founder and principal, Mhairi MacLeod, visited Auckland to meet with John Bolton, the director of industry body Financial Advice New Zealand (FANW) and boss of mortgage group Squirrel, as well as FANW CEO Katrina Shanks, to explain the program and other corporate social responsibility initiatives.

MacLeod said, “It was great to showcase the program to John and Katrina and they are enthusiastic about getting on board this initiative and introducing it in their schools.”

MacLeod and the MFAA recently relaunched the program throughout Australia, with a massive response from schools and brokers.

MacLeod added, “Thousands of young Australians have benefited from taking part in the program and acquiring knowledge and skills which will make them more self-sufficient and better prepared for adulthood.

“The School Entrepreneurs Program has received fantastic support from brokers and it enables them to give something back to the community and impart their financial skills and knowledge onto young people.

“It would be wonderful to launch the School Entrepreneurs Program in New Zealand and the MFAA is keen for this to happen. The initial support from Financial Advice New Zealand has been very exciting.”

The program involves finance brokers delivering a course of lessons voluntarily to high school economics classes or youth groups in their local community.

MacLeod said, “Topics covered include setting up a business, developing business plans, product development, marketing strategies, human resources, strategies for profit, loss and future business direction.

“Finance brokers are ideally positioned to deliver this program due to their financial literacy and competencies as well as their business management and administration experience.

“How it works is they partner with a local high school or similar institution, and then work as business advisers alongside the teachers, helping students develop, launch and manage a mock start-up business.

“The standard pre-designed program can be delivered over the course of six-to-ten weeks, for an hour each week. It is a fun way to engage students and get them thinking about business. Although the program has been pre-designed, brokers can easily tailor it to suit their students' needs, or their own style.”

MacLeod said the need for the program was highlighted by the results of an OECD international student assessment report last year which found around 20% of 15-year-olds in Australia did not have basic financial literacy.