From walls to screens: Striving for financial literacy during the pandemic

By: Korkmaz Ergun, CEO and Member of the Board, Borsa Istanbul Oct 2021

The upsurge of complexities and increasing risks in financial markets make financial literacy more important than ever. Retail investors are increasingly attracted to capital markets, the number of issuers is mounting, and anyone can now access information very quickly, most often in real-time.

In a world where everything happens at such a high speed, it is crucial to raise investor awareness, and enable investors to access accurate information, on time and from the right source. As a result, the responsibility we undertake as market operators escalates as well. I believe the core responsibility of exchanges is to provide a reliable and efficient platform for all investors.

At Borsa İstanbul, we take concrete steps towards our mission of creating an environment that encourages transparency and accurate information flow.

Transparency and enhanced disclosure practices in companies are essential for building this environment, yet they are not enough on their own. Financial literacy is also a prerequisite for the development of the capital market ecosystem. Therefore we must reach investors, particularly the young generation, and equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills to make effective and informed financial decisions.

At Borsa İstanbul, as most of our peers do, we make eye-catching regular announcements about capital markets, prepare informative videos, and organise events and training programmes for individual investors. We also support intermediary institutions financially to increase the number and coverage of their research reports.

Foresight, along with financial information

We have positioned the development of financial literacy as the core principle of our strategy. Besides, it is fundamental for citizens of all ages and income levels to understand the basics of saving and investment for economic development. We aspire to provide them information on several topics, ranging from preparation of family budgets to features of different instruments, including the ones traded in the stock exchange.

To this end, we set out to equip the investors with “knowledge” and, more importantly, increase their foresight to build unbiased and improved financial decisions.

Targeting the new generation 

I believe that further steps should be taken to improve the financial literacy of investors-to-be; namely, children and young people.

For years, we have been carrying out our corporate social responsibility to develop educational opportunities as the sole stock exchange of Turkey, which has one of the highest young population rates in the world. We have been making physical contributions to education to raise awareness of capital markets and increase educational opportunities for youth.

In 1998, we signed a protocol with the Ministry of National Education to initiate the Physical Contribution to Education Project, and throughout the years we have financed the construction of 440 schools all over the country. These schools were all named after Borsa Istanbul, and they gave millions of children the opportunity to become aware of the capital market at an early age.

In addition to this physical contribution, we provide training at universities with the participation of Borsa İstanbul experts. We recently established BISTLABs, simulation laboratories in universities that aim to provide a stock-market experience to students.

Before the pandemic, we used to offer the conference hall at our campus for financial literacy training programmes in cooperation with intermediary institutions. Today, as much of the world does, we hold regular webinar programmes.

Extending our reach

Recently, we took our collaboration with the Ministry of National Education one step further during the remote-learning period. Financial literacy videos prepared by Borsa İstanbul have been broadcasted on EBA TV, the TV channel dedicated to remote learning used by secondary school students. Therefore, we were able to extend our impact on children through a national TV channel and reach a large “Generation Z” audience.

It is one of my greatest wishes for investors to improve their financial decision-making capabilities. To this end, extending our efforts as leading financial infrastructure providers holds the utmost importance.

That's why this special issue of FOCUS, which takes a deeper look at financial literacy and offers the opportunity to share experiences between exchanges, is invaluable.

I extend my heartfelt thanks to WFE for this issue, and all other collaboration opportunities.