2020 has been a year that many of us would prefer to forget. Certainly it has hastened some positive changes but the year has highlighted that there are new challenges that seemed unimaginable in a pre COVID-19 environment.
Because of COVID-19 the use of cash for everyday transactions has virtually been eliminated, and this change is likely to be permanent. The rules around the availability of credit have also changed, and banks are now encouraged to extend more credit to stimulate spending and economic recovery. Increasingly the onus is on the customer to ensure that their repayments are manageable. With more “after pay” arrangements possible through retailers there is greater access to consumer goods. As Bank First is owned by its Members and not subject to the demands of shareholders, we will however continue to give priority to whatever is in the overall best interest of our Members.
Because of low returns on investments the certainty for many Bank First Members of a reasonable level of income into retirement will have diminished. Often assisting with the financial security of future generations has been a priority for our older Members and new ways to do this have to be explored.
It is becoming even more important that young people are taught to be financially literate. Schools and families both have roles to play in this process. Ironically at senior levels in schools subjects like accounting, economics and business management have become less popular choices over the years. As well children no longer will have access to cash in order that they learn basic financial principles from a young age - even school canteens are mostly cashless!
One simple thing I have done is to set up Bank First accounts for my grandchildren. I have been delighted to see that even a six year old can quickly learn some basics e.g. interest rates, saving for a goal. As well as making contributions to these accounts, rather than purchasing more commercial “gifts” at Christmas/birthdays, can be satisfying all round. Over the Christmas period each year Bank First offers a small incentive to Members to set up accounts for children. For more information on our Children’s Accounts, visit here.
Best wishes for a restful Christmas and for a prosperous, happy and healthy 2021.