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Study: Financial education key to Puerto Rico ‘millennial’

Sofía Macías, Smart Consumer Financial Education Consultant for MasterCard, and Mateo Lleras, director of corporate communications for the GeoCentral region of MasterCard, Latin America and Caribbean. Sofía Macías, Smart Consumer Financial Education Consultant for MasterCard, and Mateo Lleras, director of corporate communications for the GeoCentral region of MasterCard, Latin America and Caribbean.

Puerto Rico’s “millennials,” the segment of the population comprising 18 to 30 year-olds, believe that financial education is a very important factor in achieving personal financial stability, a recent MasterCard study on basic financial knowledge revealed.

The “Financial literacy among youth in Latin America and the Caribbean” study, which surveyed 11 markets in the region, was launched by MasterCard to gain a better understanding of the points of view of “millennials” in aspects of personal finance, financial education and financial tools.

The study’s findings were used to optimize the company’s Smart Consumer financial education program, which was launched in 2007.

According to the study, some 82 percent of “millennials” in Puerto Rico agree that financial education is important for ensuring that their finances are sound and prosperous. Meanwhile, they said their current priorities were focused on: owning their own home (76 percent), finding a good job (71 percent), and enjoying good health (68 percent).

This segment represents a large portion of the current and future labor force, which are just starting their financial cycle.

“As “millennials” in the region begin to earn their first income, make significant financial investments, acquire debts or adopt their first financial tool, their financial education becomes more indispensable,” said Mateo Lleras, director of corporate communications for the GeoCentral region of MasterCard, Latin America and Caribbean.

Finding a job is top priority
The study showed that some 67 percent of the immediate goals and desires of this segment in Puerto Rico consist of finding a good job. Another interesting finding is how highly this generation values saving and getting a college degree.

More than half, or 52 percent, of those surveyed cited “completing their studies” among their top priorities, and 50 percent answered that “saving for the future” is very important to them. However, most of those surveyed are not currently using a financial tool. They are not alone; they are part of the 60 percent of the region’s population who are non- or under-banked.

Given these findings, MasterCard’s Smart Consumer program for financial education has just been relaunched, with improved features aimed at involving and affording “millennials” in Puerto Rico the personal financial literacy they need to lead them toward intelligent handling of their finances.

The recently improved Smart Consumer program can be accessed through tools that “millennials” themselves cited as their favorites for obtaining information on financial education: web pages, online courses and financial workshops facilitated by experts.

“Informed consumers make better financial decisions and are essential to helping us realize our vision of a world beyond cash,” Lleras added. “At MasterCard, we believe that financial inclusion must be supported by efforts at financial education and this can only be possible through collaboration by industry participants and programs such as Smart Consumer.”

Currently, Smart Consumer is supported by 50 partners who are critical to expanding the scope of financial education through their collaboration with MasterCard.

The MasterCard study consisted of online interviews in 11 countries: Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Panama, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Half of the 1,864 youths surveyed were 18 to 24 years old, and the remainder was 25 to 30 years old.

Author Details
Business reporter with 25 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other areas of the economy.

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