Broader Financial Knowledge = Brighter Financial Future

Sep 27, 2022

[IMPACT+: This series features IMPACT posts that take a longer look at vital topics.]

A recently released study revealed disappointing news: financial literacy rates in the United States have been steadily declining since 2009.  

This is especially concerning because people with lower financial literacy are much less likely to have planned for their retirement savings needs (29% vs. 52%) or to have opened a retirement account (43% vs. 70%).

In today’s volatile economy, Americans who lack financial competency risk falling behind. The life insurance industry is committed to helping all Americans achieve economic empowerment through education. Our commitment is exemplified through life insurers’ active partnership with Junior Achievement USA, which provides valuable financial lessons to more than 2.5 million students from coast-to-coast.

Nearly 50 ACLI member companies support the efforts of local Junior Achievement (JA) chapters across the country. JA gives young people the knowledge and skills they need to achieve economic success, plan for their future, and make intelligent academic and financial choices. JA students feel more confident about managing their finances and are more likely to have earned a college degree.

ACLI member company support for JA comes in many forms including:

  • Direct financial donations and sponsorships
  • Life insurance company employee leadership on local JA boards of directors
  • Life insurance company employees volunteering at JA chapters and schools with JA programs, sharing their professional experience and skills with students

Several ACLI member companies were recognized this year with the U.S. President’s Volunteer Service Award for their employees’ time and efforts at local JA chapters throughout the nation.

In addition, Voya Financial’s Chairman and CEO Rod Martin serves on JA’s national board of directors. And several ACLI member companies donated funds to JA’s national operations.

Finally, more than two dozen ACLI member companies sponsored the 2022 ACLI Capital Challenge road race for members of Congress and their staffs, the Biden Administration, the judicial branch and the media.  A Washington D.C. tradition for more than 40 years, the race benefits JA. After this year’s race I had the honor of presenting JA Chief Development Officer Catherine Milone a check for $75,000.

JA’s financial education programs are more important now than ever. Our economy has been buffeted in recent years by the COVID-19 pandemic, an unpredictable stock market, interest rates spikes and rising inflation. Navigating a path from school to a career with financial security can be challenging. JA’s programs help students prepare for adulthood.

A Wharton study revealed that 1/3 of U.S. financial inequality could be accounted for by the differences in financial literacy. Eliminating these knowledge and financial equality gaps won’t happen overnight. But through our long-term engagement with JA, the life insurance industry is striving to broaden the financial futures for young people across the nation.

Susan K. Neely

Susan K. Neely is the President and CEO of the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), the nation’s leading trade association determined to help families live better lives by achieving financial security and certainty. As president and CEO, Neely drives public policy and advocacy on behalf of ACLI’s member companies that represent 93 percent of industry assets and serve 90 million families.