Welcome to another week of financial learning. About a week ago, I was privileged to be a guest on Rainbow Radio 87.5 FM’s Financial program Money Talk. This is a well structured financial program that selects topics aimed at empowering the unbanked and young ones financially. In the course of the programme, something stroked me!
I realized the wild gap of financial appreciation between the few elites and the masses.
Today’s piece will be in the form of addressing a subtle phenomenon that has been neglected in this country someway somehow. My last check on the ratio of Ghanaians’ with bank account hovered around 30% to 40%. In real figures term, out of our 34million-estimated population, just about 12 million have bank accounts. This number spreads across universal banks, savings and loans, microfinance, credit unions, and rural banks.
For me personally, this statistics is very scaring. If people do not appreciate the need to even open a bank account, then the talk of financial discipline is even defeated “ab initio” as the lawyers will say. It has been defeated from the outset.
The phone in the segment brought views and questions from artisans and the self-employed who earn between GHS 500 to GHS 1,000. My observation from the phone-ins pointed to the fact that most of these people do not understand this idea of saving a portion of their income. The usual excuse is about the insufficiency of the income and to some extent mistrust for financial institutions. This level of misinformation is even deeper in our rural areas who practice SPEND AS YOUR EARN (SAYE).
The mindset is that my income is too small and thus, I do not need to save and invest any. The economy is hard so I need to cater for myself today and the future will decide for itself.
With this mindset, I think us as bankers and financial people in this country have failed the masses. Most of these people genuinely do not know nor appreciate the dynamics when it comes to money.
The few financial institutions who take up this task of public education only do so with the aim of winning their accounts. Beyond that, these people still lack a deeper understanding of what banking service will help protect their future i.e. retirement, how they can grow their savings, etc.
I will blame our media somewhat. I am yet to see a sustainable program on any of our television station that focuses solely on financial education. Even when you want to push this onto the screens, the opposition alone can discourage you.
I have said and will continue to say that, the fast game-changer for exponential growth in Africa is education and skill development. People need to be educated in all spheres of life.
Nelson Mandela shared this conviction when he said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.
Our brothers and sisters in the rural areas need people who will painstakingly teach them financial principles not because we want to coerce them into opening bank accounts. The young ones in our second cycle institutions and universities need continuous seminars that will empower them to appreciate what they can do with their income when they start working.
They need financial guidance before marriage. They need financial guidance when they start their own businesses. They need financial guidance every day! Sadly, we have let them to their fate and only focusing on skills development and entertainment.
That is my medium and long-term goal. To run financial literacy programs across the whole country in schools, market places, rural areas, churches, etc. The more people know and understand financial matters in this country, the more they will appreciate the means of cutting out wastages in their lives. We have a duty as corporate institutions to support individuals and media programs that focus on educating the masses. When people are enlightened to save and invest more, the eventual benefactors will be these financial institutions and the country. We should, therefore, see this call as a joint action not the fight of a few. I have been teaching and talking about financial discipline for some years now and we need institutions to help with support in carrying this message to that taxi driver, the mason, the carpenter, the market woman, etc.
If they are well educated and informed, no Ponzi scheme will gain root in this country. No financial institution flouting basic banking principles will have breathing space anymore.
Let us make that change now. The Central Bank should be seen as doing more when it comes to financial education through the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE), which will be complementing the little efforts of myself, Jerry Afolabi, Alberta Quarcoopome to mention few. The Time is Now!
Religious bodies have a greater stake in this call by educating its members with financial seminars. If members of the church understand wealth creation, the church will benefit.
The media can do more with tailor measured financial programs. The Financial institutions should also sponsor savings and investment programs.
The campaign starts now, not tomorrow or next month! Let us come on board and save people from ignorance-based poverty. We need to save people from ignorance-based struggles when on retirement. Let us protect the next generation from avoidable financial hardships!
I wish everyone a wonderful and memorable week!
Patrick Baah Abankwa is a chartered banker with over 5 years experience in main stream banking having worked in various capacities. He is currently at the Branch Manager Position of his institution.
He has been a qualified member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, Ghana with a good membership standing since the year 2013.
He also holds EMBA and BA from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science, Technology, and the University of Ghana respectively.
Patrick is the originator of the daily epistle dubbed “Savings Tip of the Day” which has been running for over a year on WhatsApp and Facebook.
Patrick has also been teaching on the Topics Savings, Investment and Financial Independence for over 2 years and a research fellow for ILAPI Ghana. He runs a financial channel on Youtube by name “Patrick TV Gh” and has appeared a couple of times on the business segment of TV3 News 360.
Patrick is into financial teaching, youth facilitation and counselling. He can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org and or 0243984492.
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