The True Potential Centre for the Public Understanding of Finance launches today, Thursday 14 November 2013, with the intention of empowering the UK public to better manage their finances. Collaborative cross-sector research and free, open-access modules will help the Centre deliver the foundations for increased financial literacy in the UK.

This unique centre of research excellence brings together academics with expertise in regulation of the financial services industry; investment, pension funds and mis-selling; consumer behaviour and customer relationship management; the role of emotion in financial decision-making and taxation. The Centre’s research findings will be disseminated widely to improve the industry’s financial practice and enhance people’s personal financial capability.

“The need for such a centre has never been greater,” says Professor Rebecca Taylor, Dean of The Open University Business School. “Many people in the UK are struggling to pay their bills, let alone save for a pension; interest rates are low and more emphasis is being placed on the individual to take financial responsibility for their future.”

Professor Taylor adds: “Financial literacy in the UK is at rock bottom. Whilst important steps are being taken to introduce financial education to the school curriculum this will only benefit school-aged children. The Centre will use its research expertise to develop courses relevant to the needs of individuals managing their personal finances and looking to invest in their future. The research findings will also help organisations reach and understand the behaviours of such individuals in the future.”

The Centre’s development has been supported by True Potential LLP, one of the UK’s leading financial services organisations. David Harrison, Managing Partner of True Potential LLP, is an MBA graduate from The Open University Business School and has been instrumental in the Centre’s formation.

David commented: “Investing and finance is a potentially very simple-to-understand subject that is frequently made very complicated and inaccessible – we have set up this centre to democratise finance and make financial education more readily available.”

The first of the Centre’s three free open-access modules, Personal Finance: Understanding the Basics, will be available from Spring 2014. This module will cover household budgeting, borrowing and debt management, managing savings and investments, how to arrange insurance cover and organise a pension. The second and third modules, which will be produced later in 2014 and 2015, will help individuals gain an understanding of investment and risks, the financial industry and consumer rights.

David adds: “These free courses will arm people with the knowledge and information they need to make informed decisions about their finances, or to ask the right questions of the right people. This will inevitably go a long way in helping to close the growing savings gap that exists in the UK today.”

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