4 themes to battle personal finance woes

October 31, 2015

The Centre of Strategic and Policy Studies (CSPS) has suggested the implementation of four strategic themes under the proposed national strategy for financial literacy.

The think-tank has made the proposal to the central bank Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD). AMBD commissioned CSPS to conduct an eight-month long survey to gauge the financial aptitude of Bruneians.

The national strategy has been proposed to address the Bruneians’ financial problems including huge personal debts, poor financial management and proliferation of financial scams.

“We have proposed a vision for the financial literacy roadmap which (will allow) all Bruneians to achieve the highest financial well-being, given their resources and burdens, through access to well-suited financial products, independent information and advice,” CSPS researcher Giuseppe Rizzo said at a media conference yesterday.

The first theme is promoting financial education which is aimed at changing the behaviour of Bruneians in financial management.

This, Rizzo said, can be done through in-school education, workplace training and community learning initiatives.

“We don’t want to teach financial knowledge for the sake of knowledge. We want to actually change the behaviour of the people, starting from a young age,” he said.

The CSPS has also proposed for a scheme to develop professional teaching trainers and financial counselors.

“To provide all these initiatives, of course we need some professional development. We need to have people who know what works and what doesn’t in terms of financial education,” said Rizzo.

The second strategic approach is the dissemination of free, independent information and advice by using traditional and social media to increase awareness on financial literacy.

“We propose to set up a national website, using also mobile applications to engage more people in improving their financial behaviour,” Rizzo said.

A financial consultant can also give a one-on-one counselling to people with specific needs such as those burdened with huge debts.

Another strategy is to improve institutional design and regulation to enhance the socio-economic and financial environment. This will enable consumers and businesses to make better informed decisions.

One way to do this is to introduce tailored default options for certain financial products.

“So that even if people do not take any action, they will still improve their financial behaviour by default because of the change of environment,” Rizzo said.

He added CSPS has also made a proposal for institutions to simplify and standardise disclosure forms.

“We found in the survey that very few people understand the terms and conditions stipulated in these forms.

“So if we can simplify that, then we can facilitate the understanding of the characteristics of financial products,” said Rizzo.

The final approach is to have better governance and evaluation through the setting up of a central body to spearhead and implement the proposed national strategy.