An interview with Jessica Thyrion, Communication Adviser, ABBL (The Luxembourg Banker’s Association)
Could you describe your career path towards inclusive finance, and more precisely the coordination of the European Money Week in Luxembourg?
Before being involved in inclusive finance projects, I was already highly interested by CSR issues in general and financial inclusion in particular. I frequently attended the “Midis de la microfinance” organised by the ADA (Appui au Développement Autonome). Through the ADA conferences, I have learned the important role financial education plays in microfinance and quickly understood that the need for financial education also existed in Luxembourg.
I was a member of a CSR working group within the European Banking Federation (EBF), when EBF’s Executive Committee decided in June 2013 to launch a “Financial Education Project Group”. I since represent the Luxembourg Banking Association within this Group.
A core mission of this Project Group was to set up the European Money Week. The ABBL decided to participate right from the start by launching the “Woch vun de Suen” in Luxembourg in 2014. The third edition of the European Money Week and the “Woch vun Suen” is scheduled from 27 to 31 March 2017. As we strongly believe financial education should in the long run integrate the school curriculum it was our aim to federate as many concerned social actors as possible in order to set up together a national strategy for financial education.
What are your current responsibilities and what is a working day at ABBL like?
I am in charge of information management in the broad sense, i.e. media monitoring and distribution of pertinent information. I produce and manage content or coordinate content production for ABBL’s online outlets and publications. Part of my mission is also to keep my colleagues permanently informed about initiatives and decisions in fields such as banking regulation, taxation, payment systems, monetary policy or private banking. The tasks of a communication professional can vary. I am sometimes led to organise events, take pictures and participate in multiple ways to various one-shot projects. “CSR activities” for instance, is something I care a lot about. I am therefore involved in various working groups dealing with CSR issues.
What is the biggest project you have handled so far in your career?
Without any doubt the “Woch vun Suen”. This major project is designed for target groups that haven’t been approached by our association so far: Teachers and pupils. During the project set-up phase we have been in touch too with academics, NGO representatives, our members’ employees, ministries and other partners. The national money week is a truly enriching and rewarding experience. The enthusiasm of teachers and pupils demonstrate the real need for more financial awareness and the initiative is much appreciated by many. We believe important to collectively pursue our efforts to help children make well-founded decisions and encourage them to adopt financial responsible behaviors.
To you, is inclusive Finance a passion, a job or a learning experience?
It is definitely a passion! Luckily for me my job gives me the opportunity to contribute to the development of financial inclusion in Luxembourg. The learning experience is amazing. You meet a lot of new and interesting people from different professional backgrounds sharing a common desire to help others to better face challenges in life. I am very proud that the ABBL and its members are getting more and more involved in social or community related projects.
What lessons have you learned by working on an inclusive finance project?
I have learned that it is not always easy as professional organisation of the financial sector to be trusted when dealing with social issues. Many times the ABBL had to justify its involvement in this project. We haven’t lost faith though and kept going on. The feedback we receive today is overwhelming and outweighs by far the more skeptical and critical voices. This encourages us to move forward.
InFiNe.lu is the Luxembourg platform that brings together public, private and civil society actors involved in inclusive finance. The value of InFiNe.lu lies in the wide range of expertise characterised by the diversity of its members.
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Picture 1 © Pallab Seth