Speeches/Interviews

September 29, 2020

Speech by Minister Lawrence Wong at the 7th Citi-SMU Financial Literacy Symposium on Financial Resilience in a Post-COVID-19 World

Professor Lily Kong
President of Singapore Management University

Ms Margie Pagdanganan,
Managing Director, Citi Private Bank

Distinguished speakers, guests, and attendees,

1. I'm very happy to be able to join you today for this symposium on financial resilience. It is a very pertinent topic in light of the challenging circumstances we find ourselves in.

2. COVID-19 has changed and will continue to change the world we live in. It is not just a matter of dealing with the current pandemic, which may continue for quite some time more to come. But it is also dealing with the many fault lines that have sharpened and the global trends that have accelerated due to COVID-19. These include the intensification of the US-China rivalry; the bifurcation of technology; disruptions to global supply chains; as well as a new wave of protectionism we are seeing in countries everywhere.

3. So we are entering a new normal in a world where growth will be slower for longer periods of time and we are likely to see more volatility, uncertainty and disruption to our daily lives. This is why it is so important to instil good habits for financial resilience in this post-COVID world.

4. We must cultivate good financial habits, like saving and budgeting early in life, and with good money management, all of us can avoid the traps of debt and financial dependence, a malaise that can last a lifetime.

5. We should never underestimate this foundation skill that can shield young people from future financial storms.

6. Remember too in thinking about financial planning – sometimes less is more; you don't need something that is very complex and intricate to have a good financial plan. The key is to come up with a sound long-term plan and then to have the discipline to stick to this plan.

7. Always be careful of new schemes promising high returns or purporting to help you get rich quickly. And don't try to beat or to time the market just for short-term gains – because even the so-called investment experts get it wrong very often, and end up under-performing. There is no free lunch in this world, and if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

8. These simple but effective principles underpin the financial literacy programmes that we have been promulgating over the years and they have always been part of our national conversation.

9. MoneySense, our national financial education programme, aims to help Singaporeans manage their money, and make sound financial decisions. We also have many important partners and stakeholders who work alongside the government, for example the Citi-SMU Financial Literacy Programme for Young Adults has been a great partner in delivering financial knowledge and skills to young people.

10. The programme uses a unique peer-to-peer training model that helps empower students to not only take charge of their own financial journey but to support others too. It has benefited some 50,000 young adults since its inception in 2012 by Citi Singapore, and SMU alongside with the support of the Citi Foundation. This is a noteworthy achievement and I would like to congratulate the Programme for its nine years of educating young people in Singapore about financial literacy.

11. I understand that the symposium has an exciting line up of speakers and we have much to gain from their insights. So on that note I wish you all a good symposium ahead. And all the very best in developing greater financial resilience in a post-COVID world. Thank you very much.