THE public and private sectors have helped us sustain our several undertakings in bringing a more financially literate Philippines. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and BPI Globe BanKo has launched the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), helping 200,000 household beneficiaries be given financial literacy instructions. The Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp., on the other hand, has partnered with the Department of Education (DepEd) to integrate in the high-school curriculum the concept of saving with effective learning methodologies. The BSP has also tied up with the DepEd to recognize top-performing teachers in refining the habit of saving for elementary students. The private sector, including insurance companies, banks, investment firms and small groups, has also been an integral part of this pursuit. Many of these institutions have created programs for students, parents, employees, retirees and overseas Filipino workers.
On a personal level, this perplexed me: “How far have we gone in our quest for financial literacy?” I was asked with this question when I recently gave a talk to a small group of financial advisors. With my heart beating fast, I had a moment of silence. I have to give an accurate answer that could match the challenging question raised at that very moment. Unfortunately, I was not able to answer as definitely and as confidently as I could on the issue of personal finance. But later, I realized we still have a long way to attain a hundred-percent literacy on financial matters.
I am a huge advocate of teaching fellow Filipinos the importance of saving and investing. I am one of those willing to impart financial knowledge and advise for our less fortunate countrymen. Sadly, we are still far from reaching the bulk of Filipino who I think need the most focused assistance. Many of our financial advisors, personal finance professionals and consultants filter clients unnecessarily for the simple reason they will not gain monetary compensation for the trouble. They only want those clients who can give them a good commission if not the highest commission. They only serve clients with utmost speed and importance when a big amount of investment is involved. While it is true there is a need to determine how much these people can save or invest, we should always be mindful in sharing our expertise with whoever needs it the most, whether they are millionaires or penniless. Even the least advice that we can provide can be of immense significance to this vision. We should not think of “how much” they can save but of their willingness to set aside a portion of their income.
How wonderful it is when the person who started with only a few hundred bucks eventually turns and become financially independent on the basis of one good advice. How happy are we when we receive unreserved gratitude from them. And how great will it be if they can refer you to someone you can help while also helping you find remuneration? They may not be our clients for commissions but clients for “selfless advice.” The gladness is indeed priceless. We should not solely think about commissions or any other compensation but also act as catalysts of goodwill. We should not just think about earnings but also responsibility. We should be frontrunners for promoting financial literacy that reaches even the most remote corners the country. As learned professionals, the responsibility lies in us to expedite this chase. Also imbedded in this responsibility is having the right behavior when it comes to giving advice.
We have seen groups formed with this mission in mind but some end up serving only their own interests and not the majority. Some might have even suggested products that do not really suit the goals and objectives of an individual. Some turned out to be scams and merely looted the people’s money.
We don’t need to be politicians to help the community. We can work at the individual level. With the heartfelt goal of educating our fellow Filipinos, together we can achieve a hundred-percent financial literacy rate. But we have to begin with this: “When a beggar asks you how he can save for his future, what would you advise?” That moment when you give a selfless advice is the beginning of a lifelong quest for financial literacy.