BNM-AFI JLP on Empowering Consumers through Financial Education - Opening Remarks by Dr. Alfred Hannig, Executive Director, AFI

  • AFI Executive Director Dr. Alfred Hannig delivering his opening remarks
Dr. Alfred Hannig, Executive Director, AFI at the opening of the BNM-AFI Joint Learning Programme on Empowering Consumers through Financial Education

BNM-AFI Joint Learning Programme on Empowering Consumers through Financial Education
Monday, 7 October 2019
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Opening Remarks by Dr. Alfred Hannig, Executive Director, AFI

Good morning and a warm welcome to all to the BNM-AFI Joint Learning Programme on Empowering Consumers through Financial Education.

Let me start by thanking Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) for leading this event. Our collaboration with BNM for hosting trainings for the AFI network in this wonderful training facility goes back to even before AFI was housed in Sasana Kijang and this relationship has grown and strengthened with time. This is our third event together in 2019 and we have one more planned in November.  

This Joint Learning Programme or JLP brings together 46 participants representing 32 member institutions representing all regions that AFI works in – Asia, Pacific, Sub- Saharan Africa, Middle East and North Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. We sincerely thank you for your continued overwhelming interest in learning to expand your horizons, which to us is a reflection of your institution’s commitment towards building a supportive financial environment for all.  

At AFI we offer a variety of capacity building services, JLPs being just one of them. However, JLPs are indeed one of the most preferred learning options and in the 2018-19 Member Needs Assessment, you have given JLPs a score of 9.17 out of 10 on usefulness. What we believe works well for a JLP is that:

  • It provides an excellent learning environment to learn from an expert country
  • It provides a platform for participating institutions to share their stories and receive feedback
  • It provides a safe environment to share learnings from trials/experiments that did not work as expected

The host institution which leads a JLP is an expert on the policy theme because they have proven their leadership position by treading the path themselves and achieved something significant. This JLP focuses on development of National Financial Education Strategy (NFES) and its key considerations. And we are indeed privileged to have BNM lead this JLP as it follows the launch of Malaysia’s five – year National Strategy for Financial Literacy (2019-2023) by Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad as recently as July 23, 2019.[1]

We saw increased demand for capacity building on financial education and consumer empowerment (CEMC) last year. AFI conducts Member Needs Assessment annually and CEMC continues to be in the top three in the 2019 MNA. Thus, multiple CB events have been planned on this topic. The recently completed Global Policy Forum, where member institutions make new Maya Declaration Commitments or revise existing ones, also saw multiple commitments on financial education. The key areas on which we get CB requests are:

  1. Development of NFES
  2. Stakeholder engagement in implementation of NFES
  3. Monitoring and evaluation of financial education initiatives
  4. And more recently on Digital Financial Literacy

In this JLP we will focus on the first two but will touch upon the other topics too.

The majority of AFI members now have a documented NFIS. And now we see increasing numbers opting to develop NFES, which is perceived as a critical component to support the effective implementation on NFIS. Members like RMA Bhutan, have launched the NFIS and NFES at the same time, demonstrating the close relation and need for a structured approach to consumer education to support NFIS. Demand side surveys conducted globally have highlighted the challenges faced by consumers and NFES can play an effective role in addressing those.

Though NFES may be treated as a subset of NFIS, the links are close. The theme for our GPF this year was Using Technology for Financial Inclusion of Women and Youth and we had extensive discussions on possible policy approaches and solutions on creating a regulatory environment that supports higher access and usage of financial services by the youth. And when I see Malaysia’s National Strategy for Financial Literacy, which lists five strategic priorities[2], the very first one is - nurture values from young. Each pillar of financial inclusion can indeed be and must be closely backed by a financial education.

Another example is that of increased use of technology to access and use financial services. The shift of focus to digital financial services has helped bring in a significant section on the unbanked into formal financial services for the first time. Financial education of consumers plays an especially important non-financial role in ensuring that these new entrants are able to make the maximum benefit from the services, make informed choices and most importantly, remain in the system. A planned strategy for financial education goes a long way in protecting consumers from frauds, which are more rampant in this digital era.

Continuing with our focus on learning through sharing and taking a very practical route to learning, this JLP will ensure that all of you get a chance to contribute to the learning of the others and get to see policies and initiatives in action in the field. I am sure under the very able leadership of BNM, you will have a great week of learning here at Sasana Kijang, a great centre of knowledge and learning excellence. Sasana, in Sanskrit, means a meeting point for the learned and wise and I am sure it will indeed give you an experience true to its name.

As I conclude, let me emphasize on the importance of financial education as a far-reaching and inclusive tool which induces real, positive behavioral change in financial matters. I wish to again thank Bank Negara Malaysia for making this event a reality and to your management for supporting your learning process by nominating you for this event. Best wishes for the week!


[1] The strategy is formulated by the Financial Education Network (FENetwork), an inter-agency group co-chaired by Bank Negara Malaysia and the Securities Commission Malaysia. Its founding members consist of the Ministry of Education, Malaysia Deposit Insurance Corp (PIDM), Employees Provident Fund, Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency (AKPK) and Permodalan Nasional Bhd.

1. Nurture values from young;
2. Increase access to financial management information, tools and resources;
3. Inculcate positive behaviour among targeted groups;
4. Boost long term financial and retirement planning; and
5. Build and safeguard wealth.

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