Posted by Financial Youth Intelligence on 02:53PM, 19 May, 2015
The blog post "Why Don't People Care About Personal Finance" by Cheerful Egg sparked off a flurry of discussion among financial online world with me
contributing another article and Ken'ichi Wealth Management sharing on his own experiences why people don't care about finance. Kenji
mentioned that in his blog post that one of the primary problem is that
financial education is not thought in school and he proposed that educators
should work on more visual aids like Youtube videos to encourage people
to learn more about money. I heartily agree on the use of Youtube videos
to engage the general public like what some of the top Youtubers likeN.O.C, Jianhao Tan, Wah Bananas and Tree Potatoes.All these famous Youtube channels have one similar point... Very pretty
Babes in their videos.
Pretty babes are in a critical shortage in the entire financial education
scene... Maybe we can ask the only female (and pretty) female financial
blogger, Budget Babe to help star in our video. Haha. Wait, no, she will smack me on
my head, so scratch that idea.
Back to the problem with financial education in school, I am in an unique
position to share some insights, thanks to Wongamania. Although Wongamania is designed for the adults' market, I have quite
a few interested parties from schools and financial educators who approached
us to make use of Wongamania in schools.
In fact, there are no shortage of financial educators who work in the
schools' market. Eduwealth, Moneytree,Innervative and PlayMoolah are some of the active providers who have very innovative products
to engage the youths of today.
However, they all seem to face a similar problem... Lack of interest and
The reason "Why Don't Students Care About Personal Finance" is again the
problem of priorities and attitude and I see that problem to be particularly
acute with Singaporean Students.
Let me break down by demographics again to give you a better insights
on the problem.
Pre - Tertiary (Age 6-16)
Parent, "Hey son. What did you learn in school?"
Son, "I attended a once a year workshop about personal finance. We played games and such and learn
about savings and investing."
Parent, "Great! Now you know how difficult it is for Papa to earn money. You
must help Papa save money okie?"
Son, "They talk about this thing call investing in shares in school. I don't
quite understand! Can you tell me more!"
Parent, "Ehh. You will understand when you grow up. Learning about money is
not important now and you better focus more on your studies/ Maths/ English/
Biology so that you can find a good job and you won't have to worry about
So why did financial education fails at the pre-tertiary stage? Because
financial education is always the least priority when compared to the barrage
of enrichment classes out there. Many parents feel that children be spending
more time tackling on the important issues at hand, like acing their PSLE
and O-Levels and getting into the next elite school. In fact, ballet and music lessons probably rank ahead of financial education when it comes to the proportion of the money spent by parents on enrichment
classes. The one reason why I can think why music lessons rank ahead of
financial education is not because the parents think that the children
will become a successful musician, but rather, these enrichment classes
yield immediate results.
"Whaaat? What Soros? Who is that? Never heard of him? Why you make your
daughter study all these difficult stuff? Got use one meh? She so poor
thing. Kids mah, let them play lar! She now so nerdy, next time how to
find a rich husband!
Parents Shamed by relatives and friends
Financial education and the associated financial enrichment classes will
never take off for our children, unless parents change their priorities
and their allocation of budget towards the skills, that will really benefit
their kids for life, rather than pursuits which will yield them a good
degree or creative skills which are used as a competitive sport among parents.
Tertiary (Age 17 - 24)
The Tertiary financial education market is a very interesting one. In the last post, I mentioned that students in the tertiary institutions priorities are
1) Grades 2) Girl/Boy friends 3) Fun
One interesting phenomena I observe is the students' perception of financial
education as a tool to get a high paying job in the banking and finance
industry, rather as a way to improve your personal finance knowledge.
There are two kinds of students in general:
The ones who wants to be an investment banker/analyst/fund manager/private
They are often found in the elite business schools in Singapore and they
love to sprout complicated valuation models and quote from Warren Buffet
whenever they can. They also attend every virtual trading competition that
they can find so that they can impress the bank executives with their knowledge
and trading skills. Most of them jump straight to the complicated stuff
without caring about the basic financial knowledge, such as savings, debt
management and budgeting. After all, they are going for a high powered
job whose role is to manage millions of dollars. Learning about budgeting
are for those scums who want to be financial planners and these people
only know how to cheat people using expensive insurance products (says
the aspiring private banker...)!
The rest of the varsity students
Financial stuff? Are you trying to sell me insurance!?! Go away!! I have
When I got some of young adults from universities whom helped me develop
Wongamania to approach their friends for play testing, many of them declined
to play because it is a "financial" game. However, when they are approached
from a different angle ( A fun card game like Monopoly Deal!), the response are often more positive. It seems like there is a stigma on financial stuff in our tertiary students
and it is extremely difficult to get them to be interested to learn about
money stuff when many students avoid the topic like a plague.
However, there is no such stigma in the universities I work with in Malaysia
and many young adults embrace the learning of financial literacy. Perhaps
it is the perception that they have less job opportunities and with the
problems of GST and high inflation in Malaysia, they are keen to learn
how to make their first paycheck go further.
With record low unemployment and rising fresh graduate pay in Singapore,
Singaporean students are perhaps too comfortable and too naivete to think
that the good times will continue to roll.
I even have Singaporean undergraduates coming forward to tell me that
"Singapore property will never crash."