Mario Fischel spent more than 20 years as manager of financial advisory programs at the World Bank. Today, he works as a financial education specialist and is the creator of the innovative financial education game, Bulls & Bears.
AFCPE: What was your inspiration for Bulls & Bears?
Mario: Bulls & Bears is a suite of tools – board game, online game, Guidebook, and lesson plans – that make the basics of finance and economics fun and accessible for all.
We created Bulls & Bears to respond to the dire need for financial education among today’s millennials and youth and the lack of suitable tools to address their needs. We put together a multi-disciplinary team of investment, education and gamification experts to create a tool that people of all background enjoy and find useful.
AFCPE: What audience is the game geared toward?
Mario: The game is suited for anyone age 13+ with an interest in the subject, or an awareness that they should know more about it but are discouraged by its perceived difficulty.
For financial educators and counselors, Bulls & Bears offers a unique opportunity to demonstrate support for customers’ – and their children’s – financial education. It can be used as a promotional gift for high-value clients, or it can be used for short (2-4 hours) seminars to attract new clients. We offer lesson plans and guidelines for effective classroom use in addition to the board game.
AFCPE: What’s your vision for the game?
Mario: Make a measurable contribution to financial literacy by being used in all fields of life: schools, newspapers, financial institutions, personal counseling, etc.
AFCPE: As an organization, we are passionate about bridging gaps in the field of personal finance and meeting people where they are in their financial journey. Speak to this from your work.
Mario: The News Flash cards in the game always get people excited: people read about news from the worlds of business, politics, the economy, etc., and buy and sell assets in anticipation of their impact. Everyone loves to play the market and outsmart their rivals! This has proven to be a terrific learning tool, providing instant feedback and learning-by-doing.
I recall the feedback from The National Parenting Center (TNPC) testing session: the news events really got people excited and what’s best, they seemed to retain what they learned!
AFCPE: What’s next for the Bulls and Bears team?
Mario: We are working with a major international news magazine on developing an app, and a foreign game company on developing an international version of our game.
Mario answers our Friday 5:
- Your Why:
Everybody needs personal finance, and they know they need it – but they’re put off studying it because they think it’s boring and complicated. That may be true – but only because of the way it’s taught!
People can learn anything if it’s boiled down to essentials and made fun and easy.
- Your Favorite Quote:
“Everything should be made as simple as possible – but not simpler.” (Albert Einstein)
- Your Hero:
Warren Buffett: he focuses on basics, invests for the long haul, ignores fashions, and speaks plain language.
- Your Favorite Personal Finance Resource:
Reading good newspapers
- Your best advice:
- For someone starting the journey to financial well-ness:
Focus on the basics: choosing the right education and career, staying out of debt, starting early to save, diversifying investments, and buying a home when you can afford it
- For a new professional entering this field:
Keep your customers’ needs and difficulties in mind and offer them advice and solutions that are suited to their circumstances. Make them appreciate that you’re concerned about THEIR long-run financial well-being, not trying to sell them standard formulas or specific products.
Follow Mario and learn more about Bulls & Bears at: www.bullsandbearsonline.com