Before working for a financial services company, my impression about learning about investing and money matters was that it’s expensive. I also thought that it would be hard to find other people I could talk to about it aside from my parents because it wasn’t a common topic among my friends and previous officemates. I would browse stock trading seminar fees in Manila and find that they range from P975-4,000 for the basic stock investing seminar that I can attend during weekends and could go up to P7,000-10,000 for one class to learn about technical analysis. The free classes offered by private entities such as the Philippine Stock Exchange and COL Financial are usually held within office hours so employees like myself cannot go there.
We are fortunate today that due to the internet, people who are knowledgeable about financial matters share information and chat with beginners who want to improve their way of living. One group that I discovered which facilitates this is the Angat Pilipinas Coalition for Financial Literacy. Burn Gutierrez, the chairman and founder of this advocacy group, has been sharing personal finance information since 2012 with the help of volunteers – respected financial advisors, bloggers, writers, authors, musicians, artists, accountants, and entrepreneurs.
Also helping him out with this is Carmi Irene Cristobal, the president of the advocacy group. They hold free seminars and moderate the conversations at their Facebook Group which as of today has more than 14,000 members.
“Many Filipinos prefer to buy things that they want and benefit from them instantly. They want something tangible. On the other hand, paying for financial advisors or seminars may not be an “in” thing for many of our kababayans because they believe that they will not get something from them right away as compared to buying gadgets or appliances on credit,” says Burn.
Aside from giving free education, the group also recognize exceptional personal finance advocates who go out of their way to share their personal finance knowledge through the Angat Pilipinas Financial Literacy Awards. The awards, says Carmi, “is a big move to promote financial literacy. It is by recognizing these personalities that will empower them to do more and be creative in sharing their personal financial journey in order to inspire more people.” Aside from the awardees, there were also notable guests including Rex Ma. Mendoza, Dr Alvin Ang, Paulo Tibig, Randell Tiongson, and Marvin Germo who attended the event and presented the award to the winners.
“Apart from the performance of our musicians and the presentation of awards by our notable guests, I liked the speech that Jj Lopez, our youngest volunteer who is 15 years old, delivered. He narrated his experience as a “teacher” of financial literacy to children and teens. He looks forward to teaching more young people about saving and investing through Angat Pilipinas’ youth camps,” Burn shared about his favorite part of the program. This is refreshing to know since most teenagers his age (including myself when I was his age) mostly think about schoolwork, gadgets, and other personal concerns. Starting this early is definitely an advantage for him and to other teenagers that he can affect.
I look forward to the day that more Filipinos can see the importance of learning about smart personal finance choices, and for more groups like the Angat Pilipinas Coalition for Financial Literacy to help Filipinos realize the importance of this aspect of their lives.
KristelSilang is the content manager of MoneyMax.ph, a financial comparison website aiming to help Filipinos save money through diligent comparisons of financial products.