A study of the level of awareness of financial literacy among management undergraduates, D Ramasawmy, S Thapermall, SA Dowlut

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Content: Proceedings of 3rd Asia-Pacific Business Research Conference 25 - 26 February 2013, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, ISBN: 978-1-922069-19-1 A Study of the Level of Awareness of Financial Literacy among Management Undergraduates Deerajen Ramasawmy1, Savila Thapermall2, S. Anoop Dowlut1 and Mootooganagen Ramen1* The need for financial literacy has become increasingly significant with the deregulation of financial markets and the easier access to credit, the ready issue of credit cards and the rapid growth in marketing financial products. Governments and benevolent organizations around the world are beginning to realize the importance of financially knowledgeable citizens, for the latter's own benefits and in general, for the benefit of the nation. The main aim of the study is to assess the level of awareness of financial literacy among management students at the University of Mauritius. Four fundamental aspects in financial literacy are considered, namely, level and importance, definitions and theories, constraints and measures to improve financial literacy. In addition, the study aims at depicting any relationship between financial literacy and demographic variables such as age group, gender and programme of study. A survey methodology was adopted with the design of a questionnaire to capture information among the students. The findings of this study indicate that overall, management students at the University of Mauritius attach a sound level of importance to financial literacy to their subject of study. However, according to the results, most students have a medium level of knowledge and skills in financial literacy and in savings and borrowings. No significant difference was observed at 5% level for the financial literacy level between male and female respondents while significant difference were observed between male and female for the ability to read, analyse, manage and communicate. Based on the study, it was found that age, gender, language, race and income level do not have an impact on the level of financial literacy. Recommendations are made so as to improve their level of knowledge and understanding in financial matters not only for management but for all students at the University, such as the need to include financial literacy courses in all curriculums. Students should be exposed from a young age to basic economics and finance and start to learn and master financial vocabulary from a young age and should be able to demonstrate proficiency. Keywords: Financial Literacy, Financial Illiteracy, Financial Education, Financial Security, University ___________________________________________________ 1Faculty of Law & Management, University of Mauritius, Reduit, Mauritius 2Department of Mathematics, Mauritius Institute of Education, Reduit, Mauritius *Corresponding Author ([email protected])
Proceedings of 3rd Asia-Pacific Business Research Conference 25 - 26 February 2013, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, ISBN: 978-1-922069-19-1 Background The OECD has implemented various financial literacy (FL) programmes with the main aim of exposing, promoting and encouraging the study of financial education. Higher level of financial education is important as it promotes financial choice and socio-economic independence and enhances credit analysis and budgeting skills. According to Greenspan, 2005), the financial world has become so complex today when compared to the generation before where a simple knowledge of how to maintain a checking and savings account at local banks and financial institutions was more than enough. But now, consumers have to differentiate between a wide range of financial products and services available in the modern financial market. Therefore, there is an increasing need for people to be more financially literate and this has increased the responsibility of higher education institutions to facilitate the efforts to promote financial literacy. Problem Definition An exploratory study by De Clercq et al., (2009) has revealed that undergraduates and even chartered accountants have limits in financial literacy, hence an international instrument was used to measure financial literacy and it concluded that age, gender, language, race and income level do have an impact on the level of financial literacy. Today, every country is struggling for economic prosperity and it is especially hard for young people who have never learned how to budget, plan to achieve financial security or be involved financially enough (Kelly, 2002). In recent times, concern for the levels of financial literacy in society as a whole has grown considerably and is expected to grow even more important in the future (Fox et al., 2005). Now, consumers have to differentiate between a wide range of financial products and services available in the modern financial market (Greenspan, 2005). Furthermore, 40% of Americans were found to be living beyond their means. In addition, students increase and almost double their average credit card debt and triple the use of credit cards in their wallets from the first year of their study until graduation (CSU Fullerton, 2009). The need for financial literacy has become
Proceedings of 3rd Asia-Pacific Business Research Conference 25 - 26 February 2013, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, ISBN: 978-1-922069-19-1 increasingly significant with the deregulation of financial markets and the easier access to credit, the ready issue of credit cards, the rapid growth in marketing financial products. One problem with financial literacy is that, if financial literacy is taught, it tends to be before a student's final year, that is, before he/she has faced any important decision, such as buying a car or taking out a credit card (Mandell, 2008). This study aims at assessing the level of awareness of financial literacy among management students. In addition, the study will aim at depicting any relationship between financial literacy and related issues like age group, gender, programme of study. It is strictly believed in this study that those students eventually, will need to face and tackle financial decisions, be it savings, insurance or future investment projects. As such, the study assesses aspects in financial literacy such as, its level and importance to management students, their perceptions on definitions and theories, constraints and formulates policy measures to improve financial literacy. Literature Review The global financial crisis in Russia (2008) led to an increased demand for consumer protection and financial literacy programs. The Global Banking and Finance Review (2010) stated that World Bank approved a very significant loan for the financial education and literacy project for the Russian Federation to improve financial literacy of the Russian citizens. According to the Eastern Family Economics and Resource Management Association (2006), financial institutions, the students, loan communities, financial professionals and educators have identified financial management education as a priority. According to Hoffman and Mc Robert (2011), directors will not usually prepare their company's financial statements, but they do need to understand them. Investors also need to be able to understand financial statements in order to be able to invest wisely (Hoffman et al., 2011). According to Educators (2008), however, the financial systems that consumers navigate nowadays have become so complex. Easy access to credit,
Proceedings of 3rd Asia-Pacific Business Research Conference 25 - 26 February 2013, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, ISBN: 978-1-922069-19-1 self-directed retirement accounts, and complicated mortgage options all force people to make financial decisions they may not be prepared for. Atkinson and Messy (2011) measured the level of knowledge and understanding of the population and assessing their behaviours with regards to their finances were fundamentally, to identify potential needs and gaps in relation to financial literacy. Jacob (2000) conceded that financial knowledge acts not only as a convenience but as an essential survival tool for individuals to survive in a competitive economic environment. However, Jacob et al. (2000) states that adequate financial education can improve financial literacy and more importantly amend behaviour for the better. However, they found that age of respondents was not of any cause to financial literacy level. According to the Financial Services Authority (2002), there should be more emphasis on raising up the level of adult financial literacy as this would help in achieving many objectives such as promoting public knowledge and understanding of the financial system as well as enhancing consumer protection and eliminating financial crime. According to Ambre (2012) and the Economic Times (2012) state that financial literacy starts at home itself where children are educated about how to handle money such as to save and spend wisely. However, Huston (2010) found it essential to measure financial literacy in order to understand educational impact and barriers to financial decisions. Rezak et al. (2007) proposed that most managers and specialists in Human Resources discipline should be provided with business acumen training, though they do not possess financial backgrounds. This will help them in making confident and informed recommendations by managers. According to Green (2006), training and learning programs on financial literacy have improved and made communication of financial information between employers and employees much easier and effective. Financial literacy courses are usually linked with business acumen courses. According to Prince (2009), business acumen will have an important impact on leadership-development and HR programmes (selection and recruitment) as managers would who do not had any significant
Proceedings of 3rd Asia-Pacific Business Research Conference 25 - 26 February 2013, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, ISBN: 978-1-922069-19-1 business education, knowledge of financial statement and basic business and financial terminology JumpStart (2009) noted and argued that students who took up financial literacy courses were not better off than those who did not. Yglesias (2008) pointed `basic illiteracy' as the reason for a great number of people who lacked financial literacy. Ballenger (2012) argued that age gap was not positively related to financial literacy. However, the Financial Literacy (2012) stated that most young people had a relatively poor financial literacy and a 29 year-old got difficulties to even budget. As such, being older is not necessarily wiser in terms of decisions when it comes to money and finance matters. Annamaria (2012) argued that the older population displays low level of financial literacy and this will affect their financial decision making pattern. Financial illiteracy is not only a worldwide reality affecting all people. According to Fowdar et al. (2007), Mauritians had a medium financial knowledge about the debit/credit card theme, but relatively low levels of knowledge regarding savings and borrowings. Moreover, they were found to be financially illiterate in investment and insurance issues. There was a significant, but negative and fairly weak association with gender and financial literacy. But overall, men had a better understanding of financial matters than women. The results also revealed a significant negatively weak correlation between an individual's age and his financial acumen at 1% significance level. Research Methodology A descriptive research was undertaken to meet the objectives of this study with the collection of both secondary and primary data. The latter was collected through a questionnaire. In this study, the population includes full-time, final year management students from the bachelor programmes of Management, Human Resource Management and Marketing Management at the University of Mauritius. A sample survey was conducted. The questionnaire embodies four fundamental important aspects of the study namely the importance gender of respondents attach to financial literacy in regard to their subject of study, the relationship between financial literacy and age group, subject of study and
Proceedings of 3rd Asia-Pacific Business Research Conference 25 - 26 February 2013, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, ISBN: 978-1-922069-19-1 occupation, the possible causes of financial illiteracy and finally the possible measures as how to improve financial literacy in Mauritius. A five point Likert scale was used along with a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 indicates strong disagreement and 5 specify strong agreement. The results of the sample data might not be representative of the population as other students, for instance, engineering students or other, who was not included in the sample, might have different level of knowledge and skills of financial literacy. Moreover, only final year management students were chosen as the population for this study. Analysis and Findings It was found that management students agree that financial literacy is more important as a concern to their subject of study. They have a low level of agreement with financial literacy as a meaning-making process in which individuals use a combination of skills, resources and contextual knowledge to process information and make decisions. In addition, they have a low level of agreement with financial literacy as an education process by which individuals improve their understanding of financial products and concepts. In terms of the major possible constraints that are believed to be the causes of low level of financial literacy, it was found that the students believe that both low level of personal literacy and lack of personal interest do not affect level of financial literacy. However, they stated the importance that lack of sources of financial information for example: no access to internet and finance magazines, financial constraints and lack of government initiatives to promote financial awareness among the public, are found to be the major causes of low level of financial literacy. Moreover, for the level of importance of ways to improve financial literacy in Mauritius, it was found that most of the students do not perceive financial literacy programs to be broadcasted on radio and televisions as an effective way to improve financial literacy. However, they do believe that financial awareness programs in college and university curriculum will be a good and effective initiative to improve financial literacy in Mauritius. independent samples t-test was used to compare the means of many dependent variables between male and female respondents. It was found that there is no significant difference
Proceedings of 3rd Asia-Pacific Business Research Conference 25 - 26 February 2013, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, ISBN: 978-1-922069-19-1 between male and female respondents in terms importance of financial literacy as a concern in your subject of study. The same tests were used for various variables and the results are summarised in Table 1 below:
Variables
Statistical Difference between
Male and Female Respondents
Level of Knowledge and Skills of Financial Literacy
No, but females have a better
knowledge and skills of FL
Importance of Financial Literacy in everyday life and No, males attach more importance
subject of study
to FL
Perceptions of Definitions and Theories of Financial
Literacy
Ability to read, analyze, manage and communicate
Yes at 5% level
Ability to discern financial choices & discuss financial issues without discomfort Use combinations of skills, resources and knowledge
No, on average females agree more on these perception statements than males
Being informed, knowledgeable and educated
Basic concepts of management of money
Education process
Develop skills
Make informed effective choices
Understanding financial terms and concepts
Constraints for Financial Literacy
Financial constraints Time constraints Low level of personal literacy Lack of personal interest Finance topics too complex Lack of sources of financial information Failure of education system
No. However, for some constraints, males agreed more compared to females namely for financial and time constraints, lack of personal interest, lack of sources of information, failure of financial institutions
Failure of financial institutions
Lack of government initiatives
Ways to Improve Financial Literacy
Financial awareness programmes Financial education to be provided by employer Financial literacy on radio and television. Government and NGO's initiatives Pamphlets and booklets Setup of hotline service Clients read and understand information Detailed analysis of financial products Seek advice from financial advisors
No. On average, females agree more on financial awareness programmes, financial education to be provided by an employer, financial literacy to be broadcasted on radios and televisions, Government and NGOs' initiatives to promote financial literacy, pamphlets and booklets to be provided in public areas, schools
and financial institutions, detailed
financial analysis of financial
products in widespread newspapers
on their use, performance and
terms and seeking advice from
financial advisors.
Table 1: Summary of Independent Samples T-test
Proceedings of 3rd Asia-Pacific Business Research Conference 25 - 26 February 2013, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, ISBN: 978-1-922069-19-1 Chi-Square test was used to measure association between categorical variables, namely if there were any relationships between age group, gender and programme of study with financial literacy level. The findings are summarised in Table 2 below:
Financial Literacy Level
Chi-square df Sig.
Gender 1.156 4 .885a
Age Group 13.684 4 .008a,*,b
Programme of Study 9.175 8 .328a,b
Table 2: Pearson Chi-Square Tests
From Table 2, we observed that only significant relationship was found between Age Group and FL Level at 5% level. For the importance respondents attach to FL, no significant relationships were obtained for the three criteria, namely gender, age group and programme of study. The same observations were obtained in terms of the perceptions on theories and definitions of FL, understanding financial terms and concepts, the various constraints, financial awareness and training and ways to improve FL. A factor analysis was conducted on the various statements measuring the perceptions of respondents with regards to the definition of FL, sources of financial information and financial education. Out of the 9 statements, four factors were extracted and the results from SPSS is summarised in Table 3.
Analysis Skills
Rotated Component Matrix a Ability to discern financial choices and discuss financial issues without discomfort
Ability to read, analyze, manage and communicate
Awareness of financial issues Ability to make financial decisions
Education process Use combinations of skills, resources and contextual knowledge Being informed, knowledgeable and educated Understanding financial terms and concepts Make informed effective choices
Awareness of Develop skills financial risks Basic concepts of management of money and assets Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis Rotation Method: Varimax with Kaiser Normalization. a Rotation converged in 5 iterations. Table 3: SPSS Output of Factor Analysis on Perception with respect to definition
of FL, sources of financial information and financial education
Proceedings of 3rd Asia-Pacific Business Research Conference 25 - 26 February 2013, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, ISBN: 978-1-922069-19-1 From Table 3, we observed that the most important factor is Analysis Skills, followed by Awareness of Financial Issues, Ability to make Financial Decisions and finally Awareness of Financial Risks. Discussions and Recommendations The purpose of the study is to assess the level of awareness of financial literacy among management students at the University of Mauritius. The results of the study indicate that those students, on overall, have a satisfactory level of knowledge and skills in financial literacy. Literature review has revealed that undergraduates and even chartered accountants have limits in financial literacy. The management students have a satisfactory level of knowledge and skills of financial literacy. They also attach a sound level of importance to financial literacy as a concern to their subject of study, but, on average, males attach more importance as compared to females. As for definitions and theories of financial literacy, the students do agree with almost all the theories, but the results indicate that female students, on average, have lower level of agreement with financial literacy as a meaning-making process" in which individuals use a combination of skills, resources and contextual knowledge to process information and make decisions. They also have low level of agreement for financial as an education process. However, males, on average, agree less on financial literacy as being informed, as basic concepts of management of money and assets. For constraints of financial literacy, the students have a good perception of constraints for financial literacy. Moreover, on average, males, believe that financial and time constraints, lack of personal interest, lack of sources of information, failures of financial institutions to present information in a manner to attract interest and lack of government initiatives to promote financial awareness among the public are the most important constraints for financial literacy. For the measures and ways as to improve financial literacy, students have a good perception of the ways. In addition, the results of the analysis suggest that most of the students do not perceive financial literacy programs to be broadcasted on radio and televisions as an effective way to improve financial literacy. However, they do believe that
Proceedings of 3rd Asia-Pacific Business Research Conference 25 - 26 February 2013, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, ISBN: 978-1-922069-19-1 financial awareness programs in college and university curriculum will be a good and effective initiative to improve financial literacy in Mauritius. No significant associations were obtained between age group, gender and programme of study and the level of knowledge and skills of financial literacy, the level of importance they attach to financial literacy, their perceptions on theories of financial literacy. However, the tests indicate that there is an association between students' programmes of study and their views for use combinations of skills, resources and contextual knowledge and being informed (p = 0.033). In addition, there is an association between age group and financial literacy as making informed effective choices (p = 0.003). The test also indicates that there is no association between age group, gender and programme of study of students and their perception of constraints of financial literacy. Finally, there is no association as well between age group, gender and programme of study of students and their perceptions on the ways to improve financial literacy, but the test also show that, there is an association between respondents' programmes of study and their perceptions for financial awareness programmes (p = 0.037) and there is also an association between programme of study of students and their perceptions on the need for financial institutions to check that clients read and understand information (p = 0.041). Even if this study provides positive results that management students in general have a satisfactory level of knowledge of financial literacy and attach a sound level of importance of financial literacy to their subject of study, further recommendations are made. The idea is to provide a better financial education to effectively and efficiently prepare management students to face and tackle financial issues in the future. The financial future of today's students is of great concern. One way to improve the financial literacy is to increase awareness of people on the different financial products and services. Moreover, there must interventions to target vulnerable populations. The Financial Services Commission (FSC), the regulatory body for non-banking financial services in Mauritius has embarked on an awareness campaign by organising a competition on Financial Literacy and this has been well received by students of both
Proceedings of 3rd Asia-Pacific Business Research Conference 25 - 26 February 2013, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, ISBN: 978-1-922069-19-1 secondary and tertiary levels. In fact, the FSC is currently undertaking its second edition. Most surveys indicate that women, youth, the elderly, and those with lower incomes and educational attainment are less likely to be financially literate. Many surveys also indicate disparities between urban areas and rural areas, and geographical regions, and differences by race, ethnicity, employment status, and a variety of other factors. However, more research needs to be done on how to effectively target those with lower levels of financial literacy World Bank, 2012). Motivation, perception of relevance, and other behavioural factors have also been shown to be an important factor in whether participants benefit from financial education or advice (Varcoe et al., 2005; Hung and Yoong, 2010).
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Title: A Study of the level of awareness of Financial Literacy among Management Students at the University of Mauritius
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