Michelle Greene is Senior Vice President and Head of Corporate Responsibility for NYSE Euronext, overseeing the company’s global corporate...
Last week, the Exchange hosted the Operation Hope New York Financial Literacy Forum: Rebirth of America, Post Economic Crisis. More information about the program is available here or view the videos here.
The group included well-known figures from financial media, financial services CEOs, foundation presidents, regulators, policymakers, non-profit leaders and even civil rights legend, Ambassador Andrew Young, who serves as the HOPE global spokesperson.
The Forum was preceded by a welcome reception on the Trading Floor on Wednesday night. The floor was filled with energy and an eclectic group connected to the topic. The keynote speakers, addressing the crowd from the Bell Podium, included Operation HOPE’s Chairman John Hope Bryant, the Executive Director of the White House Business Council, Ari Matusiak, as well as Ambassador Young.
Muriel Siebert, the first female member of the Exchange, was honored for both her legendary and game-changing career and for her deep commitment to financial literacy. She told stories of her early days as the lone female member in the 1960s, and she shared her motivation for dedicating her work these days to financial literacy. She saw 17 and 18 year old “kids” declaring bankruptcy, and decided if she had an opportunity to make a difference, she would. And through her work with the Muriel F. Siebert Foundation, she has brought financial literacy to thousands of schools throughout the country.
The Forum continued on Thursday with discussions on how we move forward from where we are today. A recap of what we need to do: encourage and support entrepreneurship as a key to ongoing US financial success; help small businesses thrive and gain access to capital as critical to our long-term economic recovery; increase financial capability throughout our population to improve the financial security of individuals, families, communities – and ultimately our country; ensure that the current recovery is as inclusive as possible, not leaving behind low income communities; engage all sectors – public, private and non-profit – in these efforts because none can do it alone; and improve our education system, both by incorporating financial literacy and more generally, because the kids in school today are our nation’s future.
Talk of job creation and financial education were dominant themes, as was the need to be in communities to make a difference. Many participants discussed the need for broad shifts in mindset in many areas:
Some other interesting points:
In the end, the call was for better education, especially better financial education (in schools, communities, and the workplace), better collaboration among all sectors in addressing the economic challenges we face, and increased support for entrepreneurs and small businesses, which will be critical to our sustained financial success.