Helping you achieve financial literacy is the mandate of Investor Education Fund (IEF), and it’s a responsibility we have to approach creatively.
Our communication challenge is that there isn’t just one “you” that speaks the same language (either literally or figuratively). To succeed, we have to recognize that the issues that we address and our communication methods must change depending on the user’s age, location and education level.
Although our programs and resources help all Canadians, our jurisdiction is Ontario – an audience of more than 13 million people spread across more than one million square kilometres. This population has diverse needs and includes rural and urban audiences, a multilingual population, a growing group of seniors and many newcomers to our province. Furthermore, about one-half of Ontario residents older than age 25 have completed post-secondary schooling.
We can’t expect one topic or channel to engage all audiences. So how do you make a complex subject, such as financial literacy, understandable, interesting and meaningful to a dispersed and individualized population? We do this by trying to segment our audiences and to give them multiple ways to access our material. Most importantly, we get to the point and try to make the topics interesting. In our case, you’ll see evidence of this philosophy in an array of IEF initiatives.
A good example of an effective connection with a specific audience – younger social media users – is the Cranial Cash Clash. This interactive online game appeals to an audience well versed in mobile and gaming technology. It brings players through a set of quizzes and tests their financial knowledge and imparts valuable decision-making skills to a target audience who might not otherwise seek out this kind of information when it’s presented as online text or billed as a “test your knowledge” survey. Canadian use social media as a source for information and communication – and so do we.
Another example is the use of video to reinforce our message. You can see how we use video that entertains and educates, such as our “Can We Count You In?” video, that encourages teachers to educate their students about financial literacy and invites them to visit InspireFinancialLearning.ca. The video provides compelling and entertaining arguments for incorporating financial literacy into lesson plans.
We even put humour to good use in overcoming barriers to financial learning. This approach can be seen in the free Funny Money program we jointly sponsor with the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada(IIROC) for high school students. And to maximize the impact of these initiatives, we purposely integrate them with our other tools and resources. The Funny Money website (for students) links to useful calculators, including one that helps you decide to pay off debt or invest.
What remains constant is that we know we must reach our diverse audiences to overcome other appeals and distractions so they become motivated to take charge of their financial destinies. We need to make this information useful and interesting, and it takes a range of different approaches to do this.
We hope that this reduces the barriers to achieving user engagement, and we’re confident our audience-centric approach is the right one.
That’s my take. What’s yours?
President of IEF