Attend any financial wellness seminar or read any article on growing wealth, and one of the first concepts promoted is the difference between saving and investing. While saving money allows it to be stored and accessed easily, investing money allows it to grow at the cost of more risk.
However, those differences seem to be magnified for Filipino adults, according to the 2017 Financial Inclusion Survey by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). While 19 percent of the country’s 68.6 million adults have some form of formal savings, which refers to savings with financial institutions such as banks and cooperatives, only three percent are investing their money in privately managed investment vehicles.
“Only three percent of adults invest in stocks, bonds, Unit Investment Trust Funds or UITFs, mutual funds and other managed investment schemes,” wrote the BSP in a report about the survey. That translates to around two million Filipinos.
Indeed, the 2017 Stock Market Investor Profile from the Philippine Stock Exchange showed that there were less than 869,000 stock market accounts as of 2017, while there were almost 400,000 UITF accounts by the start of 2018, according to UITF.com.ph, a site maintained by the Trust Officers Association of the Philippines. It should be noted that accounts do not equal individuals, as an individual can have more than one account.
For most Filipinos, the only investment they’ve made are mandatory contributions to government-run pension funds such as the Social Security System (SSS), the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG Fund. The BSP survey found that 20 percent of the adult population or 14 million Filipinos have contributions to these funds, which could count as investments they could draw on when they retire.
Still, that leaves 77 percent of Filipino adults, or 52.8 million individuals, who do not have any form of investment. Of these, 69 percent point to unemployment as the main reason for not having investments. Other common reasons include how many perceive that it is expensive to start investing, the lack of awareness about investment options and how some do not see the need for having investments. (See infographic)
The 2017 Financial Inclusion Survey was conducted from December 2017 to February 2018, and it obtained responses from 1,200 Filipino adults with varying demographics. Aside from investments, the survey also looked into financial activity concerning savings, loans, payments, remittances and insurances.
Lorenzo Kyle Subido is a staff writer of Entrepreneur PH