Making Waves in Financial Literacy Education

From left to right: Alan Depencier, Chief Marketing Officer, Personal and Commercial Banking and Insurance – RBC; Megan Sweeney, McGill Arts student; Dean Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou; Nadine Renaud-Tinker, President, Quebec Headquarters – RBC; Nicolas Van Praet, Business Reporter, The Globe and Mail (November 2019)

From left to right: Alan Depencier, Chief Marketing Officer, Personal and Commercial Banking and Insurance – RBC; Megan Sweeney, McGill Arts student; Dean Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou; Nadine Renaud-Tinker, President, Quebec Headquarters – RBC; Nicolas Van Praet, Business Reporter, The Globe and Mail (November 2019)

Ask the average person about the risks of a high-fat diet, or the benefits of eating more fresh fruit and vegetables, and you will likely hear a well-informed response. But ask them to explain the difference between a stock and a bond and you may not hear the same confidence in their voice.

Desautels is trying to help the public become better informed on an array of personal finance issues by offering a free online program called McGill Personal Finance Essentials. In collaboration with RBC Future Launch and The Globe and Mail, the program—offered in English and French—is divided into eight 15- to 25-minute learning modules, each taught by a Desautels faculty member in a video lecture.

The idea to create the free personal finance program originated from Desautels alumna Caroline Paxton (BCom’93), RBC’s vice president of media and strategic initiatives. She envisaged the project to be one that meshed well with the goals of the bank’s foundation arm, RBC Future Launch. Among its aims is a commitment to skills development for Canadian youth, and McGill seemed like a perfect partner.

“It’s an internationally recognized university with a great reputation, but also there’s the French and English component,” Caroline said, referring to the fact that many McGill professors are able to lecture in both languages.

Launched in November 2019, the program has become wildly popular, with enrolment numbers rising far beyond expectations. Nearly 45,000 people had registered for the course by the end of the first cohort.

For Caroline, the course is “a groundbreaking way to democratize education.” Dean Bajeux-Besnainou echoes that thought. “We’re making McGill accessible to everybody.”


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