Editor's note: Vital to prosperity

Okey Chigbo, Editor of CPA Magazine, introduces the features in the November 2014 issue.

Is financial literacy important to households, national economies and global economic well-being? Well, consider that no less a gathering than the high-level policy-makers and decision-makers at two OECD conferences on financial education thought a lack of it was a significant contributor to the global financial crisis of 2008. In a 2009 policy paper that reported on the widening financial crisis, the OECD’s International Network on Financial Education stated that "the lack of under standing of households on financial issues ... has also a major role. As a result, individuals have accepted [sometimes unknowingly] to support more financial risks than what they could afford."

Most western countries, including Canada, recognize that improving financial literacy is key to maintaining stable economies. From the mid-’90s on, the Canadian government set a number of reviews and consultations in motion to develop strategies for financial literacy policies in the country. CPA Magazine recognizes the importance of the issue, and given that this is financial literacy month in Canada, has devoted the November magazine to an examination of it.

Our cover story is a profile of Jane Rooney, Canada’s financial literacy leader, appointed in April. In Giving Currency to FinLit, contributing senior editor Lisa van de Geyn writes that Rooney’s appointment is a first in Canada as well as worldwide. Her position was created based on the recommendation of the Task Force on Financial Literacy that the federal government "hire a dedicated financial guru who would ‘champion financial literacy on behalf of all Canadians.’"

Van de Geyn reports that "the Ottawa-based consumer education specialist in the financial sector has the same level of passion for financial prudence when it comes to teaching the basics of personal finances [to members of her family and] to all Canadians." Please read the story about Rooney and what she hopes to accomplish.

As a nation that is created by immigrants, Canada faces an influx of people from diverse parts of the world where things are done very differently. What are the issues newcomers face in learning the Canadian financial system? What are the differences in ways of seeing the financial world that may inhibit their gaining financial literacy? In Making Change, writer Susan Smith examines these questions, looking at people who have come to Canada from worlds where finances are approached differently. Smith’s fascinating story and the others in this issue illustrate why financial literacy is vital to a prosperous Canada.

Important notice: in January/February, CPA Magazine will be running a special issue on sustainability. In keeping with the theme, there will be no paper version of this issue, and the entire magazine will be in digital format only. Readers will be notified by email on how to access the magazine in the various digital formats — web, apps and flash edition.