Financial education remains a hot topic in the fintech space, with companies looking to create innovative ways of teaching young people about money and finance. In this week’s In Profile, The Fintech Times spoke to GoHenry‘s, the financial education app, co-founder and COO, Louise Hill.
Hill co-founded GoHenry in 2012 when she realised that her children needed to learn how to manage money in an increasingly digital world. Fast forward nine years and GoHenry now has a community of over 2 million customers in the US and UK who fiercely believe that good money management is a vital life skill.
Hill has over 20 years experience in commerce and operations. Prior to GoHenry, she was at the forefront of the retail industry’s transition to digital, launching the first wave of eCommerce websites for some UK household names, including Next Directory, John Lewis, The Innovations Group, Past Times and Debenhams.
An authority on financial education and the youth economy, Hill has made regular appearances on BBC radio and TV, including BBC Breakfast.
Tell me more about the company
GoHenry is a financial education app and prepaid debit card for children aged 6-18 years old, with in-app, gamified money lessons called Money Missions, designed to teach kids and teens how to be smart with money from a young age.
Launched in 2012, GoHenry helps young people learn about money by empowering them with essential money management skills tailored to their age that they can put into practice in a safe environment – all with parental oversight.
Money Missions enhance this real-life learning for our two million plus global members, with an interactive, rewarding and fun way for kids to build essential money skills for life.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Financial education is our number one priority and we want to show that it doesn’t have to be boring. It can be fun, practical and help with the transition into adulthood. Essentially, we want to make every kid smart with money.
We recently launched research showing just how important it is, with stats showing that children who receive financial education will be £70,000 richer in retirement and much less likely to be unemployed or in low-income jobs as adults.
What makes you unique?
We pioneered the youth finance category when we launched GoHenry back in 2012 and continue to be the largest financial education card and app for children in the UK.
As children and families are our core customers, our content is developed purely with them in mind. Improving financial literacy is a big priority for us and our in-app money lessons, Money Missions, have been developed to give customers the chance to learn these vital money skills in a fun and interactive way. We are the only financial education app that delivers the theory (Money Missions) and the practice (our app and card) in one place.
Why is financial education for children important?
According to a Cambridge University study, children’s financial habits are formed by the age of seven, with most young people forming core behaviours that will affect financial decisions they make during the rest of their lives.
Yet, with 60 per cent of children still leaving school without any money management skills and parents not always having the confidence or tools to teach it from scratch themselves, there is a big financial literacy gap still to fill.
Recent economic research conducted by GoHenry revealed that the UK economy would be £200billion richer by 2050 if children received financial education from an early age. But despite significant progress being made to improve financial education within UK schools, there is still much to do.
How do you help children learn how to manage their finances?
GoHenry’s parent and child apps help kids learn real-world money habits – by earning, saving, spending responsibly, giving, and more, all with parental oversight. There are a range of features in the app that can help to financially educate children. One of our most popular features is the savings goal function (during the first lockdown, British children’s average monthly savings increased by 77 per cent according to our 2021 Youth Economy report) where parents and kids can set personalised goals to earn towards. It could be anything from saving for the latest video game to a special birthday gift. GoHenry also allows parents to set up regular tasks (things you might want your child to do every week) and one-off tasks (something you ask them to do just once). Another popular feature is the ability for parents to view how their kids are spending their pocket money in real-time. In addition, our giving feature allows kids to donate a small amount of their pocket money to our charity partner, the NSPCC. To date, GoHenry kids and teens have raised over £250,000 for the children’s charity.
How do you ensure your offerings are suitable for children, do you consult with education specialists for the material etc?
Our product development team works with educators and specialists to develop engaging content and tools for parents and children. For Money Missions, GoHenry worked with teachers and financial education experts, including financial education charity MyBnk, to produce each lesson in line with education guidelines.
Additionally, the majority of our board are parents and have real-life experience in helping their children learn about money.
What products do you offer for older children/teenagers?
We tailor our content to the age of a child as a six-year-old has different needs to an 18-year-old. We offer a teen card for children aged 13+ which helps prepare them for the financial differences in adulthood. For teens, there is the option for a wage being paid into their account and the ability to send and receive money to family and friends. The teen card gives older customers something a bit different and more grown-up, allowing them to gain digital life skills and financial independence, whilst still having safeguards and parental guidance.
Are there any recent successes you’d like to highlight?
We recently launched our latest Youth Economy Report which not only showed what kids are spending their money on today, but revealed their hopes and aspirations for the future of work.
Key findings from the report showed that Gen Alpha and Gen Z are ambitious with plenty of entrepreneurial spirit. Many are turning to non-conventional bedroom businesses to make a bit of extra cash, from kids selling clothes on marketplaces such as Depop, to a quarter of kids selling home-made crafts on marketplaces such as Etsy and even 1.33 million kids in the UK trading in crypto-currency. We dubbed them ‘Generation Aspiration’.
It’s very empowering to see this generation being so resilient with money and with huge aspirations for the future, despite such a turbulent few years.
What reaction do you get from parents?
92 per cent of parents have told us their children are more confident and financially fit thanks to GoHenry. Parents often give feedback that their children have taken a real interest in saving for a particular goal, which is rewarding for them when they reach it.
You have recently launched a junior ISA, could you tell me more about the product and the inspiration behind it?
We recently announced the launch of our Stocks and Shares Junior ISA for parents of kids aged 6-15. Taking less than one minute to set up, parents can begin by investing as little as £1 up to £9,000 per tax year on their child’s behalf through monthly contributions or one-off payments.
Parents can transfer funds from any existing Junior ISA or Child Trust Fund, enabling them to manage their child’s finances all in one place as part of their GoHenry membership. Once invested, the money belongs to the child and cannot be withdrawn until they are 18 years old.
We decided to create a Junior ISA because we’re all about setting children up for financial success at every life stage. With the introduction of our Junior ISA, we’re making it as easy and simple as possible for parents to start investing in their child’s future. By enabling parents to open, contribute to, and monitor the progress of their Junior ISA via our GoHenry app, we’re providing one easy-to-view resource for them to track their children’s day-to-day finances alongside their long-term investments.
What do you have planned for the future?
As part of our commitment to financial education for young people, we’ve become a member of The Centre for Financial Capability, a charity set up to improve financial education for children and young people. We plan to continue our mission to make every kid smart with money by raising awareness of the need for financial education within the national curriculum. We strongly believe that a collaborative effort between schools, industry, government and parents will be vital in improving the UK’s financial literacy level. There are lots of plans in the pipeline but we can’t say too much yet.