More and more we are becoming acutely aware that people on low income find themselves excluded from financial services, sectors, and opportunities. The pandemic experience exacerbated that reality and yet we know that those especially with low and moderate income, need resources and support to build savings and protect themselves from financial emergency. Exclusion in financial processes and support systems must shift to inclusion and one step in that process is providing simple, easy to understand guidance and support in knowledge building around debt, savings, and overall financial literacy. Understanding one’s options and possessing knowledge with what to do with even a modest savings is key to financial empowerment.
Prosper Canada has spent many years creating resources for frontline practitioners to use with their clients in financial coaching sessions across a wide array of topics including ways to save. Traditional saving tools include a savings account, or a high interest savings account. With current inflation often exceeding the interest being offered on savings accounts, Prosper Canada, with support from the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) has now introduced investing to low-income Canadians as an option to make every dollar saved work harder.
When we spoke to low-income Canadians, we heard directly from them that they do not have any money left over for saving or investing after their monthly expenses and repaying debts. We also heard that the popular understanding of investing is narrow and restrictive, and people do not know who to go to for advice, who to trust or how to not feel ignorant or unknowledgeable when asking questions.
The recently launched Investing with Interest booklet introduces concepts of investing, the types of supports available, the frauds and scams to be wary of and is filled with resources for users to explore. We’ve included suggestions on revisiting one’s budget, checking for any benefits one may be eligible for thereby potentially increasing one’s income (and by extension one’s savings), questions to ask investment advisors, and keeping records of next steps.
These concepts and activities have been developed with a trauma-informed lens, a practice that acknowledges life experiences, and that allows users to exercise their right to choose which activities and approaches they would like to explore further.
While investing is not a traditional space that people with low-income find themselves in, investing and savings should be a space that anyone can learn about and use to grow their money even by small sums.
The Ontario Securities Commission is committed to making this information accessible to everyone and to help support learning the steps to save, invest and protect yourself from fraud and scams. Financial empowerment is something everyone can achieve with the right support and tools. The OSC recently relaunched its popular investor education website GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca with new artificial intelligence tools, the latest accessibility features, and significant design innovations.