A survey by MoneyWhizz, published this morning, has identified significant gaps in financial literacy among the adult population. The group surveyed over 200 individuals by posing a range of multiple choice questions, testing their knowledge of everyday financial concepts.

Frank Conway, founder of MoneyWhizz, said the object of the exercise was to look at how families manage their finances. "In some areas, people are very good. In other areas, there are gaps in knowledge. For example, some people prefer to leave aside personal savings and use high cost borrowings when funding certain purchases. Or some people failed to grasp that not paying back on time may affect their credit rating," he explained.

Mr Conway said financial institutions had a role to play in not complicating products, but he did not believe that they were deliberately setting out to confuse. "There is often a lot of legal terminology involved in financial products which ends up bamboozling individuals. The challenge is to simplify the process and make it easier for people to understand in terms of long term investing," he explained.

The area of retirement planning is a particular challenge. Frank Conway said there was an understanding among individuals that they would have to fund retirement themselves in the future. "The process has shifted 180 degrees from our parents' era when there was a guarantee of financial certainty. The challenge is that we're going to live longer, and how are we going to fund that? Employers, who once guaranteed retirement incomes, are no longer doing so." 

He said the ideal situation was for people to start saving in their early 20s and put enough money aside and then ease off their 40s when people's expenses are often at their height.

MORNING BRIEFS - The week has seen a rocky start on stock markets as traders continue to show signs of unease in the wake of the massive selloff around the globe last week. Asian markets recorded losses overnight with the Shanghai Composite - which was in the eye of the storm last week - down over 5% by the close. Australia's main index closed lower for a seventh successive session - as falling oil prices continued to weigh on the market.

*** Property website myhome.ie says growth in house prices of around 5% is likely for 2016. Davy economist Conall MacCoille, who authored the report, says the disparity between growth in the capital and outside is likely to continue, with greater house price growth outside of Dublin. In 2015, asking prices nationally increased by 7.4%, but in Dublin, the rate was 2.6%. The controversial Central Bank rules on mortgage caps look likely they are contributing to the moderation in prices in the capital in particular.
*** A more bullish prediction for house price growth comes from Goodbody's chief economist, Dermot O'Leary. He believes house price growth will reaccelerate this year, due mainly to tight supply and population growth. The stockbroker's quarterly health check also includes a forecast of 5% GDP growth for 2016 after an expected 7% growth last year. Mr O'Leary says the public finances are on course to go back into surplus for the first time in a decade by 2017, a year ahead of schedule.

*** The Irish construction sector ended 2015 on a positive note, with activity in December surging to a five month high. This is according to the Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers Index, which has now recorded growth for each of the past 28 months. Activity in December was driven by a growth in new orders which points to healthy activity levels in the coming months. The rate of job creation also picked up in the month.

*** The seventh of eight regional jobs plans is to be launched by Enterprise and Jobs Minister Richard Bruton today.
The Mid-East action plan targets employment growth of 10 to 15% - or 25,000 jobs - for the region which covers counties Wicklow, Meath and Kildare.