Hong Leong Bank launched the HLB DuitSmart Initiative on 6 September 2019 at Menara Hong Leong in Kuala Lumpur with the aim to empower Malaysians with better financial knowledge this Malaysia Day.
According to the Insolvency Department of Malaysia, there were more than 300,000 bankruptcy cases in Malaysia as of December 2018. As financial management is not part of the school syllabus, it’s not surprising that the number of cases is so high.
A Hong Leong Bank and Hong Leong Islamic Bank (“HLB” or the “Bank”) survey on levels of financial literacy amongst Malaysians nationwide showed more concerted efforts are needed to make financial knowledge simple and straightforward as well as easily accessible to all Malaysians.
Results of the survey which was done in collaboration with iMoney showed that:
· 75% rated their financial knowledge as low to average proficiency,
· 63% found financial jargons to be confusing and intimidating, further discouraging them to seek early financial information,
· Surprisingly, only 19% knew all the right ways to maintain a good credit score, even though most claimed that they understood what the credit score is,
· 68% believed that they do not have enough savings in general,
· 41% said they didn’t know who and where to get help to better manage their money.
This prompted the Hong Leong Bank to launch HLB DuitSmart – a financial sustainability initiative with the support of the Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency (AKPK) and University of Malaya (UM), which is focused on engaging Malaysians with approachable and relatable content and activities on financial knowledge and information.
This include tackling some of the key areas of concern shown in the survey to increase greater awareness and understanding on the importance of credit score and to demystify some fundamental financial jargon to make financial information and knowledge more accessible to all Malaysians.
According to Domenic Fuda, Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Hong Leong Bank, HLB DuitSmart initiative is part of the Bank’s effort to enable Malaysians to be financially sustainable. “As a Malaysian financial institution with over a century of rooted history in the country, we have a responsibility to play our part to help bridge the gap on awareness and knowledge of financial matters in our communities. Mastering financial concepts is a life skill and HLB DuitSmart also strives to engender long term behavioral change through focusing on three pillars – create Awareness on financial knowledge and Assist with the right tools to enable Malaysians to Act appropriately when it comes to financial matters,“ said Fuda.
“Most people think financial knowledge means knowing how to save and manage borrowings, but there’s more than just saving and managing loans/financing. Knowing what your credit score and how to maintain and improve it is also crucial because your ability to apply for future loans/financing is impacted, whether you are an individual or company. The sooner we grasp this concept, the sooner we can cultivate financially responsible habits which will enhance our future financial freedom,” he added.
To make it accessible for Malaysians to kickstart their financial education journey with the aid of the right tools, HLB DuitSmart will curate and provide financial knowledge information online as well as enable Malaysians to check their credit score through its partnership with iMoney from September 6 till the end of the month.
HLB DuitSmart will also be activating year-long on-ground engagement roadshows with the public including visiting media houses, universities and corporate organisations nationwide as well as organising Hong Leong Bank in-branch activities for customers and people in the communities. At the roadshows, members of the public can learn and challenge their financial knowledge through interactive digital games, learn more about credit scores, consult AKPK on financial health matters and chat with UM’s AI-powered financial knowledge chatbot called SUNDAY.
During the launch, there was a sharing session between Fuda, Datuk Ir. Dr. Abdul Rahim Hj. Hashim, Vice-Chancellor, UM and Azaddin Ngah Tasir, CEO of AKPK on the importance of financial education, the basis of credit score and why early financial education is an effective preventive measure to ensure lifelong good financial health.
“Last year, we launched HLB JumpStart, a CSR programme focusing in empowering Social Enterprises doing good for Malaysia to be sustainable in conjunction with Malaysia Day. This year, we are introducing HLB DuitSmart, a CSR initiative to enable Malaysians to be financially sustainable. We hope that through this initiative we can do our part to enable Malaysians to be more financially informed and ultimately, able to achieve their financial sustainability that will allow them to reduce, and hopefully eliminate, poor financial decisions,” said Fuda.
Coffee for Good aims to solve unemployment among underprivileged youths in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor by providing them the access to essential job skills and barista training skills. The social enterprise aims to produce productive and financially stable youths, which will in turn enable them to bring themselves and their family out of the urban poor statistics.
Many underprivileged youth have limited access to the current job trends and skills. Besides the lack of awareness on what the job market needs, they also have limited access to acquiring new skills due to financial limitations. Thus many youths are unemployed and easily exposed to social problems.
Coffee for Good uses the coffee industry and barista career as a platform for the youth to learn and exposed to working experience. Essential job skills and barista skills are thought to them for a one week, which this will be practiced during their one month on the job training at Coffee for Good cafe locations.
Find out more about HLB DuitSmart: https://www.hlb.com.my/duitsmart
Photo Credits: Hong Leong Bank