The event was traditionally organized by the Russian Microfinance Center (RMC), National Association of Microfinance Market Stakeholders (NAMMS), and Citi Foundation.
The conference was held with the support of the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation.
The key speakers of the event included representatives of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation; international experts, including representatives of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion Group of Twenty (G20), World Bank Group; senior representatives of Russian financial institutions, professional associations of the financial market, and leading business media.
Russian and foreign experts discussed Russian and international experience in the area of financial literacy and financial inclusion; shared the best practices of customer-oriented products and services; analyzed different aspects of financial behavior; discussed what makes relations between consumers and financial services providers successful; talked about remote services and their role in improving access to finances. Total number of the conference participants was more than 250 people.
Switching to remote financial services will require from the market participants an implementation of educational programs for the population, stated Mikhail Mamuta, Head of the Service for Consumer Protection and Financial Inclusion, Bank of Russia.
"The remote services acquire particular relevance in the regions where banks are not profitable to maintain offices and ATMs - said Mikhail Mamuta. - However, the introduction of innovative technologies by banks will not bring much effect, if psychologically people are not ready to use them. It is no coincidence that one of the indicators of financial inclusion is a mental availability, which reflects a person's ability to realize the essence of services and to understand correctly the risks associated with its use. Banks need to make an effort to instill relevant skills of financial literacy into the population."
The level of financial literacy in the world is still not high enough. "On average, only 60% of adults have a household budget, only 50% put long-term goals and try to achieve them. Most of the decision-making based on the opinion of friends and family, not the experts "- provided an overview of the global practice Flore-Anne Messi, Head of Financial Affairs Division, OECD.
Representatives of Portugal and the UK shared experience of their countries in the area of financial literacy and financial inclusion.
Maria Lucia Leitão, Head of the Banking Conduct Supervision Department, Central Bank of Portugal, talked about the progress her country has made since the national plan on financial literacy was launched in 2011. "We appreciate a comprehensive approach to financial literacy, - said Maria Lucia Leitão. - It is necessary to assess what is being done: textbooks, and other educational materials, trainings, and of course, to conduct national polls." In addition, a large number of stakeholders puts the task of reporting, as "it is necessary to report regularly on progress, providing stakeholders with annual reports and plans for the next period," - said the representative of Portugal.
Sue Lewis, Chair, Financial Services Consumer Panel, Financial Conduct Authority, UK emphasized: "Our experience in implementing financial literacy programs has shown that it is necessary, first, to have clear, preferably enshrined in the law, objectives of the work, and the governing body responsible for their implementation. At the same time plans and priorities should be agreed with all the stakeholders."
Russian experience was introduced by Anna Zelentsova, Coordinator, Russia’s Financial Education and Financial Literacy Project at the Russian Ministry of Finance. "The main feature of our work is to ensure close interaction between improving financial literacy and providing consumer protection, and for this purpose the Russian Ministry of Finance is actively cooperating with Rospotrebnadzor and the Bank of Russia. For us it is important that the National strategy for financial literacy is considered as a real appeal for joint actions of all the stakeholders", - said Anna Zelentsova. A good system of financial services consumers' rights protection is a foundation of the financial system, and given the growth of availability as well as number and variety of financial services it is necessary to equip the customer with appropriate skills to work with them.
The conference program included a public presentation of results of the study "Financial Inclusion for SMEs and Information Transparency of Financial Institutions", conducted by the NAFI’s Analytical Center together with RMC, NAMMS and Citi Foundation in February 2017. More details are available on RMC official website: http://www.rmcenter.ru/about/news/5188/
The conference program was finalized by a debate on “Responsible Lending an Responsible Debt Collection” with the participation of Aleksey Savatyugin, President of NAMMS and Elman Mekhtiev, Executive Vice-president of Association of Russian Banks. The debate was moderated by Nikolay Korzhenevsky, Economic Observer, “Russia 24” TV Channel.
A detailed report, speakers’s presentations, photos and videos of the conference will soon be available on the event website: http://finfin.rmcenter.ru/