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Poor—that’s how I would describe the extent of my economic knowledge, no pun intended. Still, when the OWN Future Fair at my school kicked off, I found myself sitting in the virtual meeting room of SingAlliance CEO Angel Chia, where she recounted to the audience her life story and explained to us the career path of someone working in finance.
I had been recruited as a volunteer student reporter for the fair and Ms. Chia was one of the speakers I had been asked to write about. Presumably, I was going to have a little difficulty following her—and well, as I found after she began talking and the first slide of her PowerPoint popped into view, I did. That’s my friend, another volunteer, hosting the talk, by the way—he did a great job keeping the presentation going.
Ms. Chia was very entertaining in narrating her journey to becoming a professional within the financial industry, but the technical language she used occasionally meant I only got the gist of what she was relating. After the speaker was done with her presentation, the audience was given time to ask questions.
To my surprise and bemusement, while most inquiries were of the expected variety– questions like “What does your average day look like?”—some used jargon whose complexity surpassed even those used in the preceding presentation. Options? Overheating? It looked like some members of the audience were already quite keen about economics.
Should I… know what they’re saying? Confronted with such foreign concepts and terms, I wondered if my ignorance was unbecoming of someone who would, in a few short years, be off to college, living and managing personal finances much more independently than before.
Fortunately for me, I had someone who could answer this question right in front of me. Well, virtually, at least. Her response would be my main takeaway from this presentation. “That’s a very good question,” replied Ms. Chia. The sooner we learn to manage our personal finances the better, she believes, for various reasons. Firstly, in retirement, we need to get passive income. While that does seem far off, it’s prudent to prepare savings as early in advance as possible. And to manage your savings effectively, accurately appraising one’s income against one’s expenses is key.
In addition, learning how to invest is vital to long-term financial security, as uninvested money loses value over time due to inflation. Speaking on the value of financial management as a life skill, Ms. Chia declared that “Not everyone needs to know about architecture… but I would argue that everyone needs to know about investing.”
Even though I had and still have no interest in pursuing a career in finance, I think I learned something that was worth remembering during that session. Perhaps I should start my journey of financial enlightenment soon. I think Khan Academy has a few courses about this…