Financial literacy programme to help Sembawang GRC residents tackle rising cost of living and scams

Making wiser decisions with money was among about 500 young people learnt at a networking session with local financial advisers. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - Mr Mirza Rusyaidi Juraimi Zhi Wei, 18, and Ms Shevarnee Kannan, 19, started investing in stocks and cryptocurrency two years ago, midway through their teenage years.

Studying business in polytechnic gave them a headstart in understanding the complex world of investment and Bitcoin, but they said they still have more to learn, especially in assessing how some actions can lead to losses.

On Sunday, making wiser decisions with money was among the topics they and about 500 young people learnt at a networking session with local financial advisers.

The event at The Grassroots' Club in Ang Mo Kio kicked off a financial literacy programme by brokerage CGS-CIMB Securities to help young people, lower-income families and senior citizens within Sembawang GRC learn how to invest, navigate the high cost of living amid inflation, and guard against scams.

Surveys have shown that more than 50 per cent of Singaporeans feel that they do not know enough about financial literacy, said CGS-CIMB Group chief executive Carol Fong.

The programme will run for three months in the Sembawang, Admiralty and Woodlands areas before expanding to other neighbourhoods.

Health Minister and Sembawang GRC MP Ong Ye Kung said at the session: "Always remember, good things come with bad things. When it comes to investing, the bad thing is risk and the good thing is reward. You want to earn more money, you come into the risk of losing all your money."

The event was also attended by the other Sembawang GRC MPs - Dr Lim Wee Kiak, Mr Vikram Nair, Ms Poh Li San and Ms Mariam Jaafar.

Mr Mirza, a second-year Republic Polytechnic (RP) student, said young people need to learn to accept loss. "When young people make money, they are very optimistic and are happy to invest. When they lose, they are very negative, they say the market is a scam.

"I think the most important thing any trader has to learn is risk management. Everyone keeps focusing on gain. Even if you gain 10,000 per cent, your risk is there, you can still lose 100 per cent," he added.

CGS-CIMB and lecturers from RP have also developed a free online course to help learners understand how to handle their savings, pay off debts and make better investment decisions.

The course can be accessed at this website.

Another aim of the financial literacy programme is to prevent residents - both young and old - from being financially scammed.

Sembawang GRC MP Ong Ye Kung speaking to young people at the event. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

More than 14,300 cases were reported in the first half of this year, almost double the 7,746 in the same period last year. A total of $227.8 million was lost to the top 10 scam forms, with job scams topping the list.

Some months ago, Ms Shevarnee, who is also from RP, said her elder brother lost his earnings and got his bank account hacked because he fell for a scam on Instagram.

Over the next few weeks, teams comprising CGS-CIMB staff and grassroots leaders will visit coffee shops in the five Sembawang GRC wards and share basic information about financial literacy and educate seniors about scams through games.

CEO of Singapore Exchange Regulation Tan Boon Gin (left) speaking to youths at the programme launch on Sept 4, 2022. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Teams will also visit mosques to inform the Muslim community about investments that comply with Islamic law.

In June, the brokerage set up Singapore's first syariah-compliant trading account, iCash, which allows investors to screen for products that are aligned with the key principles of syariah - morality, transparency and fairness.

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