In recent years, household financial problems, payment defaults and indebtedness have increased in Finland. This has raised concern about whether Finns have sufficient skills to make economically sustainable decisions. In accordance with the Government Programme, several ministries will launch measures to reduce over-indebtedness and improve the ability of citizens to manage their personal finances. Furthermore, the Bank of Finland is now launching a project for the coordination of activities to improve national financial literacy.
When it comes to the overall picture of the national economy, household debt in relation to income is higher than ever before. New forms of loans, operators outside the traditional banking sector and new practices have entered the market, which has increased the availability and attractiveness of loans.
"This development creates risks for individuals and the national economy alike. We need both regulation and financial literacy to solve the problems. In fact, a number of measures are already under way at the Ministry of Justice to address the problems related to over-indebtedness,” says Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson.
When compared to many other countries, the financial literacy of Finns is at a relatively high level. However, digitalisation and the financial market that operates on a global scale have created new services and changed the way we act as consumers and banking customers. “It is important that people understand how the new financial services work and what risks they involve. In the digital era, we must constantly develop our financial literacy,” says Olli Rehn, Governor of the Bank of Finland.
In additional to the authorities, dozens of private and third sector actors carry out valuable work to improve citizens’ financial literacy in Finland. However, the activities of various actors that aim to support the management of finances should be coordinated and monitored more effectively. The Bank of Finland, the Ministry of Justice and other key authorities have agreed that the Bank of Finland will assume responsibility for drawing up a national strategy for the management of personal finances and for coordinating the related activities at the initial stage.
“Financial literacy is a key civic skill. By setting common objectives and coordinating the activities better, we can improve the financial literacy of Finns more efficiently. The Bank of Finland is now taking the lead in the strategy work on financial literacy,” Governor Olli Rehn emphasises.
Improved coordination would make it possible to obtain up-to-date information on the activities and projects of different parties. This information could then be used for clarifying the cooperation procedures and defining common practices. The aim of the coordination work is to identify best practices and to ensure, through interaction, that they are utilised in a larger scale.
“It is important that each of us has sufficient knowledge of how to manage our personal finances. I am very pleased that the Bank of Finland has taken charge of this task. The Government is strongly committed to combating over-indebtedness,” Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson says.
Niklas Mannfolk, Special Adviser to Minister Henriksson, tel. +358 50 306 3990, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Sanna Helesuo, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Justice, tel. +358 295 150 005, email@example.com,
Marja Nykänen, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Finland, tel. +358 9 183 2007,
Jenni Hellström, Head of Communications, Bank of Finland, tel. +358 9 183 2622.
Governor Olli Rehn: Speech 29 January 2020 (pdf, only in Finnish)