Why 2017’s babes deserve a helping hand

George Frazis, Chief Executive Consumer Bank at Westpac Group. Picture: Supplied

AUSTRALIA is a place and a people of endless possibilities.

Just look at my family.

My parents migrated from Greece to Darwin. We lived in a housing commission estate and didn’t have much, but Mum and Dad worked hard and I joined the RAAF to get an education and give back to the country that gave us so many opportunities.

And, slowly but surely, new possibilities came our way — and we prospered.

Of course, I was lucky.

Lucky to have a loving family. Lucky to grow up when and where I did. Lucky to be taught the value of hard work.

Growing up, I also saw what could happen to kids who weren’t lucky — how much harder it was for them to fulfil their potential.

Frazis believes having savings changes the way children think about themselves and their future. Picture: iStock

Frazis believes having savings changes the way children think about themselves and their future. Picture: iStockSource:Supplied

That’s why I believe that, to secure its future prosperity, Australia needs to rely on more than just good fortune.

For the first time ever, we are looking at a future where the next generation of Australians may be facing a lower quality of life than their parents.

To me, this is unacceptable.

As part of Australia’s longest-running company and first bank, I feel personally motivated to support all Australians to halt this potential decline.

We need to make generational investments in the education, health and wellbeing of each and every child.

And those investments need to be designed to increase the chances each child has to realise their potential.

A study out of Washington University showed that not only does a simple savings account make kids more financially aware, having one also means they’re more likely to accrue assets and go to university.

Having savings, particularly in their own name, changes the way children think about themselves and their future. I’ve seen it in myself and my own children.

Lorraine Donnelly and her husband Andrew are planning on opening a kids bank account for their daughter once she is born. Picture: Dylan Robinson

Lorraine Donnelly and her husband Andrew are planning on opening a kids bank account for their daughter once she is born. Picture: Dylan RobinsonSource:News Corp Australia

Saving is not dependent on wealth or income — anyone can begin the habit, a little bit at a time. It is this habit, instilled from a young age, that I believe can truly be the tipping point.

That’s why I’m proud to announce Westpac’s Bump initiative.

The thinking behind Bump is simple.

Westpac marks its bicentennial year in 2017, and what better way to celebrate the occasion than by investing in the next generation of Australians.

We are providing the opportunity for every child born in our 200th year in business — between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2017 — to open a Westpac Bump Savings account with an initial deposit of $200 in each and every account.

This is not a marketing gimmick.

It’s our genuine commitment to advancing the newest generation of young Australians, and instilling the habit of saving in every child, as early as possible.

We won’t open an account unless the family wants us to. And, if a family does choose to open a Bump account for their baby, there won’t be strings attached.

The $200 will sit in the account, accumulating interest, until the child is sixteen and old enough to put it to good use.

Carolyn Boyd, pictured with her two children Finn and Millie, is expecting her third child in February, which makes the baby eligible for the savings account. Picture: Dylan Coker

Carolyn Boyd, pictured with her two children Finn and Millie, is expecting her third child in February, which makes the baby eligible for the savings account. Picture: Dylan CokerSource:News Limited

Whether or not they use that $200 as a starting point for more regular savings will be up to each family and child.

Personally, I hope each and every child sees their $200 as an investment in their future — as something of value to build on and grow.

Will it teach the children of 2017 about financial literacy? Will it encourage the next generation to better understand the value of money? Will it make a generational difference?

I believe it can.

After all, one of the lessons I learned growing up in Darwin is that the true value of money is about more than just dollars and cents.

For my family, money meant buying our first home, it meant security, it meant independence.

Our Bump initiative is all about investing in the future of Australian families, of every size and shape and type. Families in every city, suburb and town of our great nation. Families that have lived here for generations and families that have only just arrived.

Every child has potential — and every one of them needs a little luck to fulfil their potential. Bump is Westpac’s way of increasing the chances of success for every child born during our bicentennial year.

We want to give the next generation of Australians a running start to life.

Westpac is providing the opportunity for all Australian babies born in 2017 to take up a $200 contribution in celebration of its 200th year in business.

The $200 will be deposited into a Bump Savings Account on the 8th April 2017 commemorating Westpac’s 200th anniversary.

To register your child please visit westpac.com.au/dearbump

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