It’s human nature that whenever you talk about money, people will pay attention. Maybe because, in some aspects, money is the tool we use to satisfy both our needs and wants. Both personal desires if I may say so. Money is the magnet that pulls our desires into reality from the economic point of view.
I first became immersed on this so-called financial education when I joined the life insurance industry more than 10 years ago (2001). But back then, only the life insurance agents were financially-educated in the technical sense (not sure if there were already Registered Financial Planners or RFP back then when I started out in the industry) and the problem lies in how the agents were trained to convey or impart this financial education to their clients. It was resisted by many, not because it is not relevant, but because it was viewed more as an insurance product (limited in scope, no investment component angle ie., the variable life product does not exists yet) and therefore was taken negatively by the client. The message was there but there was a problem of perception from the messenger (insurance agents), so to speak.
Lately, times have changed for the better. I’ve noticed that financial education in the Philippines is making a lot of noise, if not an impact, in this country, at least based on my observation from the Social Media. Aside from print, radio and tv, so many so-called “financial educators” are sprouting like mushrooms to feed the “information-hungry” market, hoping to cash in on the bandwagon. Now, you get to see them even on tv. Major networks have their own “money” talk shows. So there. Anything that has to do with other investments options like mutual funds and stocks, how to be rich, how to be a millionaire, how to get out of debt, teaching the next generation to save, gets the attention of people hoping to fix their finances right and become proper financial stewards themselves.
I guess it’s about time. In hindsight, one major change contributed to this development. The social media, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, contributed to the paradigm shift of the Filipinos’ mindset about money. That money is just a tool. It’s how you use it. Money is not evil per se. The Bible says it’s the love of money that is the root of all kinds of evil. (1 Timothy 6:10a).
Another thing, all those positive news about the Philippine economy, credit rating, the continued rise of mutual funds and stock market performances are turning heads and opening up the minds of even the most disinterested people these days. Evidence? Some of my mutual fund clients are first time investors.
With the current trend, one thing is clear, financial education is alive and kicking in this country (never seen anything like this before), and sooner or later, the next generation would stand to benefit from all these sharing of knowledge and wisdom on financial stewardship.
I hope the financial educators will be effective enough to prod the non-investors to enter the world of investing. Suffice it to say that saving is not enough. People should start shifting from savings to investing. And the burden is on the financial educators to motivate these people to put their teachings into action. Maybe a follow-through perhaps?
Thank God for genuine advocates of financial education in this country who have the heart and the noble purpose to make a difference in the lives of our countrymen. The next generation would be better prepared because of them.