Riding the wave of economic growth through financial literacy

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SERGE B. BARGAYO, RFP

SERGE B. BARGAYO, RFP

A question was raised in one of my talks: “How are we, generally speaking as a country, in terms of economic standing?” This is a question I believe anybody can answer. We all know we do not just have a good economy, but a great and sweet economy.

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The Philippines is in the right and sweet position economically speaking. This is like Japan in the 60’s and 70’s during its economic boom. Demographically, we also have one of the youngest average population ages, at 24. In comparison, Japan has an average population age of 47 and the US, 37.

Having this kind of demographic window means the Philippines has a younger and healthier human resource that allows a larger space for economic growth. As long as we have a government that keeps on striving for the betterment of the country, entrepreneurs and businessmen who keep on evolving, a well-regulated banking system for lending, a healthy investment stream for equities, trade with our foreign allies and most of all people who are willing to purchase and consume, we can continue this kind of growth and reap the rewards of what we have been striving for in the last four decades.

To support this statement, our third-quarter 2016 GDP growth was 7.1 percent, with inflation of just over 2 percent in the same period. This growth rate is better than those of our peers in the region.

We all also know that the greatest asset our country has is us, Filipinos. We have been exporting skilled
Filipinos abroad, and they send billions of dollars in remittances. These are workers and professionals who do their best to help their employers (or companies) achieve their goals, or better yet, their missions and visions. At the end of the day, it is all about us.

However, if you are going to ask an ordinary citizen if he or she was able to feel the growth, majority would say it is the same, or that they did not feel any growth personally. In rural areas, people do not give a damn about what has been going on in the macro aspect of the economy. Why? This is a sad fact that we can’t just ignore.

Major studies have found that the Philippines is one of the 30 least financially literate countries in the world. It was also ranked 68th globally in the financial literacy index. Even our government, through the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, has found out that Filipinos score low on financial literacy.

If we are going to analyze it, it is like the game of “tug of war.” Our economy is trying to pull us to the positive side, and our personal literacy about money on the micro level is pulling us to the other side. I’m afraid the lack of knowledge about personal finance might pull us away from the growth that we have been longing for.

Many Filipinos cannot ride the bandwagon of growth or the boat of financial freedom because they do not have the ticket for the ride. These people who work so hard for the betterment of their employers, contribute to the growth and success of their companies, influence the growth of their industries and ultimately the economy, will be left behind. They won’t enjoy the fruits of their labor. It is a pity to see that majority of Filipinos, at the end of their working and accumulation stage, would end up with fewer pesos in their pockets.

We have seen these many times. This is a challenge that is hard to ignore. There is only one solution, I believe. I highly encourage individuals, human resource heads and even business owners to participate in financial seminars or trainings, or better yet look for financial professionals to conduct such seminars before company employees. This will give people the ticket to ride the growth of our nation.

Financial literacy seminars will help us improve the sad statistics. Here are some benefits that an individual can get:

They will no longer rely on paycheck to paycheck.

They will borrow money for investments and never to finance a lifestyle.

They will have more energy for self-improvement at work.

They will have more opportunities to think for the long term.

They can have the sense of taking risk at work.

Let us ponder and reflect on what Benjamin Franklin said: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

Serge Barcenas Bargayo is a Registered Financial Planner of RFP Philippines based in Cebu City. Learn more about personal financial planning during the 59th RFP Program in January 2017. To inquire, e-mail info@rfp.ph or text <name><e-mail><RFP> at 0917-9689774.

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