Reply to COS Cut on Financial Literacy Outreach
For Parliament Sitting on 10 March 2015
Name and Constituency of MP
Mohd Ismail Hussein, NMP
To step up outreach efforts for segments of the community to educate them on managing household debt, managing life-risks, education and retirement planning.
Answer by Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth on behalf of Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in Charge of MAS:
1 Financial education is a multi-pronged effort involving government, industry, and the community. Within the public sector, for example, the Central Provident Fund Board has been educating the public on its schemes on retirement and healthcare planning. In schools, all lower secondary students now learn some basic money management and budgeting. At the community level, the People’s Association recently launched the Senior Academy which will offer financial education to seniors. Consumer and investor associations such as the Consumers Association of Singapore and the Securities Investors Association of Singapore, as well as self-help groups like CDAC, Mendaki and SINDA also promote financial education to our communities.
2 MAS will continue to work closely with these different partners to step up our efforts in financial education. One key initiative is MoneySENSE. Through MoneySENSE, we provide financial education through diverse channels, customized to the needs of different segments of society, in order to raise the overall financial capabilities of all Singaporeans.
3 For example, to reach out to Singaporeans in the heartlands, MoneySENSE has organised roadshows at public libraries and community clubs using games, talks and info-displays to disseminate financial messages. The response to these roadshows has been positive.
4 Besides face-to-face engagements, MoneySENSE also puts out content on social media. This includes guides to help consumers manage their money, plan ahead and learn more about financial products. There are also consumer alerts to warn the public about investment scams and the pitfalls of dealing with unregulated entities.
5 Going forward, MAS is working with various stakeholders to implement a more comprehensive financial education roadmap for the next few years.
6 We will soon start a campaign to educate the public about upcoming changes to the life insurance landscape. These include the setting up of an online web aggregator for easier comparison of life insurance products, and the introduction of lower cost direct purchase insurance products that consumers can buy direct from insurers. Other themes that we have lined up include:
- educating the public about the pitfalls of over-borrowing;
- encouraging consumers to save and invest wisely; and
- warning consumers about the risks of investing in unregulated investment schemes.
7 We will also work with partners to strengthen our outreach to specific segments, such as seniors, and other vulnerable members of society.
8 Our outreach to retirees will help them to manage their financial resources prudently so that their golden years can be spent without unnecessary financial stress.
9 We will step up financial education programmes for social workers and counsellors, so that they can be better equipped to support those who seek help from them.
10 We will also focus on our young, keeping in mind that values are set early in life. MoneySENSE is currently discussing with our partners to bring financial literacy talks to tertiary students as they prepare to start work.
11 MoneySENSE will also reach out to Singaporeans at key life stages where they will need to make major decisions. For example, the MoneySENSE-Singapore Polytechnic Institute for Financial Literacy is developing a workshop to equip young adults who are about to join the workforce with basic financial skills and knowledge. We will also engage young couples about to settle down and start their own families, so that they can properly plan their wedding expenses and purchase a flat that they can afford. Our aim is to ensure that important financial tips are delivered to Singaporeans in a targeted, timely and helpful manner.
12 Financial education is a continuous journey that requires sustained effort and the continued support and active participation of our partners. Across all segments of the population, we are mindful that financial education is not just about knowledge. It is also about encouraging the right values and habits, and urging Singaporeans to be pro-active rather than be passive about their finances. With proper financial planning and good money management habits, we will have greater peace of mind and a more secure financial future for ourselves and our loved ones.