Financial resilience and literacy vital, especially in times of crisis: Gan Siow Huang

SINGAPORE – Financial resilience and know-how are vital, especially amid the kind of crisis the world is facing now, said Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang on Friday (Sept 10).

She said that Singapore’s financial reserves enabled the nation to not only meet the immediate needs of the current Covid-19 pandemic, but also build capabilities to emerge stronger for the future.

“Financial decisions made decades ago and reserves painstakingly set aside by our earlier generations had allowed Singapore to respond swiftly and sufficiently today.” 

She said the pandemic shows that financial resilience does not happen overnight. “Our resilience as a society must go beyond a resilient government. We will be truly resilient only when we possess the collective capacity, down to the individual.”

Ms Gan was speaking at an online financial literacy symposium organised by the Citi Foundation and Singapore Management University (SMU).

A survey commissioned by MoneySense this year showed that only about 25 per cent of respondents indicated that they were at least moderately confident about their financial plans for retirement.

MoneySense is the national education programme launched in 2003 to make financial knowledge more accessible.

“Financial literacy is the key building block of financial resilience,” said Ms Gan. 

“Our shared vision is to build a financially inclusive community, where everyone has access to information and tools to plan ahead and make informed financial decisions.”

She pointed to initiatives such as the Citi Foundation-SMU financial literacy programme launched in 2012
for young adults as ways to help further this agenda.

SMU president Lily Kong said: “In view of the pandemic, financial knowledge and skills are now more critical than ever.”

She added that the programme will take on more initiatives such as digital literacy to better equip young adults with such information.

“Digital transformation, expedited by the pandemic, has presented myriad opportunities, such as digital learning, analytics, and fintech that will affect and catalyse the future of work,” Ms Kong said.

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Ms Ashmita Acharya, Citibank Singapore managing director and retail banking head, said that the programme has already certified more than 1,000 student trainers across different institutes of higher learning, with more than 50,000 young adults trained in financial literacy.

After three to six months in the programme, around 73 per cent of participants raised their financial literacy scores in a global questionnaire, she added.

Citi Foundation is putting $448,000 into the programme for 2022, bringing its total community investment for the initiative to more than $4.2 million.

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