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The Oriental Daily Newspaper article

Published 12 February, 2007

Translation from Chinese to English

Gerard Louis: Understanding one's behaviour towards money is the starting point in learning how to manage our money and educating people about their behaviour shouldn't be overlooked.

Based on this principle, Abacus For Money's Carol Yip and HELP now offer financial planning workshops for university students, and Gerard supports this initiative whole heartedly.

"You see, even Bank Negara is setting-up the Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency to help those in financial debts."

Gerard Louis believes financial education is the first step towards anyone's financial freedom. He asked: "Why is "primary school" called "primary"? It's because it is the golden stage of life, it is the most important, crucial time for people to learn. If kids are being taught the correct and appropriate way of thinking, then they will be able to plan their financial life better.

But, don't kids find these issues too abstract to grab or understand?

Gerard Louis: "In Western countries, children start to learn the value of money in pre-school. Of course, this is simplified in interesting fun ways to educate them. And children learn to understand the value of money through different stages of their life. This type of education, is important to be imparted not just in theory but also in practice."

Gerard Louis: "Why is it nowadays young people always spend more than they earn?" Most probably they grow-up with the idea, that they get what they ask for. "

Gerard Louis: "As a career counsellor, my duty is not only to counsel the young on how to get a job, but also to teach them what to do when they receive their pay check, how to do financial planning and manage their money."

Gerard Louis: "There are lots of temptations in the market, young people are easily hooked into financial difficulties. No matter how great the career counselling young people receive is, if they are faced with debts early in life, then their future career can easily get in trouble."

Gerard Louis said very firmly that: "Because of this, it is very important to start educating the kids about managing their money when they are young."

For this reason, HELP and Abacus For Money are collaborating on a series of workshops in financial planning, targeting young people aged 16-20 to start.

Because those young adults are about to start work, this is the best time to educate them about basic financial planning before they actually enter the work force, hoping that the knowledge they will gain from those workshops  will help them in life. This kind of program organised by the university can help the graduate to have a stronger sense of money.

Gerard Louis: "Even if these graduates did not major in finance, they will hopefully have the basic knowledge in this area."

Carol: "The government of Singapore has a money sense program, which aims at having colleges and schools to incorporate financial planning in their curriculum. And of course, we hope that our government can have a similar program like this in place soon, to teach kids from a young age about the importance of money.

Compared to children in other countries, Malaysian children are a bit late to encounter and learn about the value of money. Deputy President of Financial Planning Association of Malaysia (FPAM) said: "This is our first step, we hope in the future we'll have more programs structured and introduced at primary school levels. He said it is better late than never. It's never too late to learn!"

Carol: "Parents play an important role in educating their children in the value of money, because how the kids are brought up determines what sort of future they will have. Quite often in the past, when the kids were so excited to tell their parents about what they had learned, the parents were not supportive enough, and this attitude did not encourage them to learn further about money skills.

Carol Yip believes that parents play an important role in encouraging and being supportive of their kids' learning experiences. She pointed out that the majority of parents too often start conversations about money with "in my days ... when I was young ...". but, parents have to realise times have changed and so must the way we teach our children about managing their money so that they can grow up to be financially independent.

She believes the kids are refusing to listen the traditional methods of learning about money skills from their parents, because they find it too difficult or complicated and respond better when being taught by professionals.


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