The economic downturn provides a chance to chart a new course for financial education, arming customers with the information and skills they need to recover financially and to be strong financial stewards. The financial services industry has a critical role to play.

The financial crisis has made it plain that Americans need to sharpen these skills. Americans themselves would agree. In the National Foundation for Credit Counseling's 2009 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey, 41% of respondents gave themselves a grade of C, D or F on their knowledge of personal finance.

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