London-based Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) has partnered with Philippine regulators and educational institutions to elevate the country’s financial literacy level on a par with global standards.
The lack of financial literacy is main thing why many Filipinos are not investing in the financial markets despite the country’s robust economy and high level of liquidity, Ken McGowan, CISI regional director for Asia, said in an interview.
The total number of investor accounts both traditional and online stood at 640,665 or less than 1 percent of the country’s population of around 100 million as of end-2014, Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) data showed.
“The Philippines’ capital market has enormous potential, but many Filipinos do not understand it. That is our objective to educate them whether they are still in college or already professionals who either want to have a career or invest in the securities and investment industry,” McGowan said.
CISI is a non-stock, non-profit, membership-based organization formed by London Stock Exchange practitioners. It has more than 40,000 members in 121 countries. It counts Deutche Bank, HSBC and Manulife as some of its clients.
Last year alone, at least 41,000 students took CISI-prepared examinations in 73 countries.
CISI has various financial educational programs from operations, capital markets, risk and compliance, wealth management to Islamic finance.
In the Philippines, McGowan said CISI is keen on focusing on the “fundamentals of financial services.”
“We have to bring out from them their sense of commitment so as for them to value the importance of credibility and competence in this kind of industry. A lot of people work by learning the technical aspects of the job. But as to why they are there, is something that is not ordinarily taught,” he added.
“The Philippines cannot operate at a lower level,” he added.
The Commission on Higher Education has recognized CISI as the official provider of financial literacy subjects and examinations to be taught in Philippine universities and colleges that offer business and finance courses starting next school year.
The initiative includes the Finance Educators Association and Eastwest Educational Specialists Inc. as partners.
CISI is a recognized partner in educational partner in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.
The institute is also in talks with Philippine with the Securities and Exchange Commission, PSE and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to integrate the organization’s global expertise in the areas of continuing learning and qualifications training in the financial services sector.
“Integrity and ethics are critical foundations in the building of a successful global financial services industry. We are keen to support this growing sector within the Philippines and meet the need for financial literacy education and for qualified professionals,” CISI CEO Simon Culhane said.
It was an easy decision for CISI to finally set its footprint in the Philippine given its growing economy, stable political condition and increasing number of professionals, especially in the business process outsourcing industry which is projected to reach its $25- billion revenue target and 1.3 million jobs this year, Culhane noted.
Since the securities and investments industry in the Philippines does not have state-regulated board examinations for aspirants to qualify for the job compared to medicine, accountancy, engineering, or the Bar exams for lawyers it has become more difficult for the Philippines to standardize the industry practice, CISI Country President Anton Mauricio explained.
“That is why CISI is here, to make the investing public learn about how they could actually grow their money by investing them in the capital markets, as well as to produce finance professionals that are armed with the highest standard of practice and integrity,” Mauricio added.