Learning about financial literacy at an EYP session: How EYP can serve as a catalyst for academic interest?

The European Youth Parliament often introduces participants to topics they might not know much about from before, and for some this can really have an eye-opening effect. Through a great variety of activities, academic opportunities and interactions with experts and partners, EYP paves the way for new career paths for those who participate, giving them insights into fields they can potentially work with in the future. One of our volunteers, 19-year old Milica from Serbia, talks about how participating in an EYP session helped her find an interest in the topic of financial literacy.

How did you get into the topic of financial literacy?

During the summer of 2019, I participated in the International Session in Valencia as a delegate in the ECON I committee. My committee discussed financial literacy relating to the pension system and the Pan-European Pension Product (PEPP). Although I did not have prior knowledge or interest in the topic, through my research and involvement in committee work I understood the importance of financial education on the overall quality of life. I also became very interested in how the pension system works, and what options are out there for European citizens. Even though retirement seems too far away for young people to care about it, I learned that investing in retirement funds from an early age secures a comfortable, stress-free future.

How did your interest in the topic evolve?

A few weeks after the EYP session in Valencia, I got invited by the European Fund and Asset Management Association (EFAMA) to be one of the speakers at their annual Investment Management Forum in Brussels. Along with a fellow delegate, Simon Martens, I got to speak on the behalf of the ECON I committee and the EYP network as a whole on the topic of financial education. Specifically, our panel was about the importance of financial literacy among youth. It was truly an unforgettable experience to be the youngest person in the auditorium and speak in front of financial experts from all over Europe!

Why do you find it such an interesting topic?

Europe is an aging continent, with the average age of people increasing each year. This means that there are less and less people in the working population supporting the retired citizens through the first and the second pension pillar. However, there is also the third pillar, formed by individual pension products and private savings. This reduces the burden on the current pension system, and allows individuals financial security in the long run. The main problem lies in the fact that many people are unaware of the possibilities or even of the existence of the third pillar. I found the topic interesting because of the direct effect of financial literacy on the economic well-being of people. When people understand how the financial systems work, they are more willing to take an active role in the planning of their current and future finances. By educating the youth about investments, savings and other ways of allocating resources, we give them the tools needed for financial security throughout their life.

What do you plan/want/hope to change in the field of your topic in the future?

Financial literacy rates vary drastically across European countries. In order to introduce common pension plans, such as PEPP, people need to be educated on financial topics – preferably from a young age. With an aging population in Europe, the pressure on the current pension system is increasing drastically. In EU countries with lower financial literacy rates, an investment in financial education is needed in order to ensure an economically stable and prosperous Europe in the long run.

What do you want to do after graduating?

I have just started my studies as a Communication Science student, so I still have a lot of things to learn and experience before making a decision on what to do after graduation. However, the topics of business journalism and political communication seem the most fitting for my current interests. These two fields bridge the gap between the public and the workings of institutions, organisations and corporations. Knowledge and understanding of these processes is essential for every well-functioning society, and working in the field would be my contribution to solving societal issues by helping people understand them.