Money management: Are you making these mistakes?

Financial literacy

Common pitfalls in money management – and how to avoid them.


Unexpected events like the COVID-19 pandemic, evolving economic and geopolitical landscapes and new trends in financial services can impact your financial position and how you should manage your money. To protect yourself – and your assets – it’s important to avoid these common pitfalls.

Mistake 1: Starting your journey late

Young people ages 18–29 years old were found to have lower financial literacy levels, compared with middle-aged individuals (30–59 years old) and seniors (60 years old and over), according to results from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development/International Network on Financial Education (OECD/INFE) 2020 International Survey of Adult Financial Literacy .

While fiscal decisions often coincide with certain life stages, it’s never too early to start building sound financial management skills.

And doing so is particularly important for those who inherit wealth, says Vivian Kiang, managing director and head of Wealth Planning and Fiduciary Services at RBC Wealth Management in Asia. She recommends fiscal education start as early as possible.

Kiang manages a variety of high-net-worth clients of different ages, some of whom have a hand in managing generational wealth.

To start, Kiang suggests that parents begin talking to their children about money management when they’re as young as 12 years old, and possibly encouraging them to begin their own investment journey at the age of 18.

This involves setting aside a sum of money the children would be responsible for managing, under the supervision of their parents or financial advisors.

“The best way to learn is actually to do it,” says Kiang, “Dealing with advisors, learning to manage your own wealth – you need that experience.”

Peter Morgan, senior consulting economist and advisor to the Dean at the Asian Development Bank Institute, in Tokyo, echoes Kiang’s advice.

Morgan says learning by doing is the most effective way to adopt these practices. “This includes both investing in various kinds of financial and physical assets, such as housing, and also borrowing funds.”

Mistake 2: Not discussing investment plans with your family

Communication is key. However, when it comes to succession planning and investments that will likely have an impact on the next generation, not all families are open to discussing these topics.

“The older generation tends to hold on to their wealth a lot more and does not readily communicate their plans to the next generation,” says Alvin Chiam, wealth planner at RBC Wealth Management in Asia.

“I don’t see a lot of clients doing that. They tend to make decisions independently, and that has consequences on the next generation.”

He explains that what was the main driver of market growth when the older generation was in their prime may not be applicable today.

Having open conversations with your family and advisors may help to create a more balanced portfolio that can weather various market conditions.

Mistake 3: Fearing tech trends

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation, including digital services in the financial sector .

“It is clear that the pandemic has increased the demand for digital financial services [DFS], due to concerns about reducing personal contact, movement restrictions, office shutdowns,” says Morgan.

Utilizing innovative technology is key to supporting financial literacy, as it facilitates more efficient financial management.

Kiang stresses that continuous learning is very important, noting that strong financial literacy often correlates with tech savviness.

She adds that it may be more difficult for individuals who are not as digitally savvy to keep up with the ever-changing investment trends, given that the latest news and information are increasingly published only in digital format.

Mistake 4: Relying solely on your own research

When it comes to financial education, search-engine results can get you only so far. Chiam says that while these online resources can be useful, they may be insufficient.

For individuals age 35 and younger, the internet may be their go-to source for all things, including their financial management plans; but they could be missing out on a wealth of information – especially if they come from generational wealth.

He recommends seeking professional advice. “Consider working with a financial advisor, since they have the knowledge and experience to guide you.”

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