Less than a year after entering the pandemic, three vaccines are in sight. This is a game changer, but even so, the next few months are going to be grim in the Western world. What happens next? When the recovery begins in earnest in Q2 of 2021, it will be two-tracked and bifurcated. For those in the “right” industry, company or sector, pent-up demand will surge thanks to excess savings accumulated during the pandemic. For the unlucky ones, distress will dominate. In the industries hit the hardest—like hospitality and retail that represent on average more than 20% of total employment in OECD countries—the damage inflicted by COVID is structural and will take years to repair. In others, like education and real estate, major adjustments will take place.
The deterioration of the economic situation and the perspective of some tough years ahead of us—particularly for the most vulnerable and underprivileged segments of the world’s population (migrants, minorities and women)—will put financial wellness front and center of wellbeing policies and practices.
This concern will be addressed by financial literacy—the main conduit to financial wellness and wellbeing. It’s no coincidence that the Financial Times just set up (for the first time ever) a new foundation whose key purpose is to help improve financial literacy and money management skills for the most vulnerable—the Financial Literacy and Inclusion Campaign (the two go hand in hand).
In the words of Annamaria Lusardi, head of the Global Financial Literacy Center at George Washington University, “financial literacy is a shield against shocks.” To take the example of the US, almost half of the costs paid in credit card debt are caused by ignorance. In the same vein, a bad credit score can ruin a person’s life, and thus, any prospect of enjoying a sense of wellbeing.
Our question to the broader wellness community: How many top wellness brands and high-end wellness resorts teach financial literacy to their broader, less-privileged community? It’s impossible to tell, but we can confidently predict that the number will increase in the coming years.