June 13, 2024
Finance

Bobby Seagull says ‘vicious cycle’ as parents pass on finance issues


More partnerships should be established between schools and financial experts to help people feel better equipped for managing their money, TV mathematician Bobby Seagull has suggested. The teacher and broadcaster was speaking ahead of National Numeracy Day (Wednesday May 22).

Mr Seagull also encouraged parents to have open conversations with children about finance so money becomes less of a “taboo” topic. He said it is “OK” for parents who find numeracy tricky to admit this to children.




Mr Seagull has partnered with Vanquis Bank to launch a series of simple video guides around financial terms, which are available on the Vanquis website and social media channels. Asked why some people find financial terms confusing, Mr Seagull, who has appeared on shows including Celebrity Hunted, University Challenge and Pilgrimage, said some people may have had a difficult experience of maths during their schooldays.

He told the PA news agency: “Because they’ve got a challenging experience of maths at school, they think anything to do with numbers, their mind goes blank. So a lot of people, when they see money, statements, and they see the letters as well, APR (annual percentage rate), AER (annual equivalent rate – a term which is often used on savings accounts to help people compare returns), it just means that they have this phobia and they’d just rather not look at it at all, so I think it almost stems from their childhood maths experience at school.”

Not reading terms and conditions fully or understanding financial terms can have negative impacts on people’s lives, such as experiencing unexpected charges or disappointing interest rates. It can also prevent them comparing financial products and switching to a better deal.

One in 10 (10%) people said they shy away from actively managing their budgets due to a lack of understanding around financial terms, according to a OnePoll survey of 2,000 people in April for Vanquis. More than a fifth (22%) said they feel less confident with money due to confusion around what financial terms mean.

Mr Seagull said some people may just be hoping that “things work out” at the end of the month. He also warned that parents could end up passing on their own phobias about money to children, adding: “The children will see mum and dad not looking at personal finances, hoping that things just work out… so it becomes a vicious cycle.”

A recent YouGov survey of more than 1,000 teachers for the Government-backed Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) found that just over three-quarters (76%) said the majority of pupils finish their education without the financial knowledge they need for adulthood.

Money is on the curriculum in all four UK nations, often as part of maths and numeracy, citizenship and personal development subjects. MaPS said in February that it had invested £1.1 million in financial education over the past year, adding that schools, parents, funders, financial institutions and financial education providers all have a role to play in reaching more children and young people.

Asked if the younger generation have a better understanding of financial jargon than older generations, Mr Seagull told PA: “I would say yes, but nowhere near enough, because we know that young people now, they’re bombarded by much more information.”


Mr Seagull said young people know that financial education is important. He suggested more partnerships could take place involving schools and companies with expertise in finance.

Mr Seagull added: “There should be more partnerships with experts, whether it’s credit card companies, banks, financial institutions working with schools, to deliver this sort of education.”

Asked about the role of parents, he said that, even when adults find numeracy difficult: “It’s OK to admit to children that they find it tricky, but do something about it and do it with them… The thing is having that openness. The more you can have open conversations with children, the more it becomes less taboo.”

Vanquis has a partnership with charity National Numeracy, which runs National Numeracy Day. The OnePoll study found a quarter (24%) of 18 to 24-year-olds are turning to social media for financial advice, with TikTok being particularly popular.


Overall, the survey found that, for 30% of people, the cost-of-living crisis has made them learn more about their financial situation.

Paul Lloyd, director of marketing at Vanquis Bank, said: “The high cost of living has stretched household budgets to the max for millions.”

– The guides, which have been certified by Plain Numbers, explain basics such as credit scores, persistent debt and AER.



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