9th Citi Foundation-SMU Financial Literacy Programme Symposium discusses Gen Z Resilience and Adaptability

Citi Foundation contributes additional S$446,000 to the Programme
By the SMU Corporate Communications team

The 9th Citi Foundation-SMU Financial Literacy Symposium was held on 30 September 2022 at the Singapore Management University, as part of the Citi Foundation-SMU Financial Literacy Programme for Young Adults which was launched in 2012. The Programme aims to impact youths through financial training and awareness and runs on a Train-the-trainer peer to peer model. Since its inception, it has engaged more than 75,000 young adults as beneficiaries, trained over 1,200 trainers, and created over 50 partnerships.

The Programme, hosted by the Sim Kee Boon Institute for Financial Economics (SKBI) at Singapore Management University (SMU), is supported by Citi Singapore and funded by Citi Foundation. This year, Citi Foundation continued to support the Programme with an additional funding of S$446,000 to SMU. With this latest gift, Citi has cumulatively contributed almost S$4.7 million to the Programme since its partnership with SKBI in 2011.

Dean of SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business, Prof Bert de Reyck said during his Welcome Address, “The Citi Foundation-SMU Financial Literacy Programme was launched in 2012 when Financial Inclusion and Financial Literacy were esoteric topics being mainly discussed among policy experts in the World Bank. This was the stage when Citi Foundation and Citi Singapore supported the Citi Foundation-SMU Financial Literacy Programme, to help make young adults aware of concepts of financial literacy, be future ready and resilient to problems that they have not yet dreamt of. Citi Foundation and Citi Singapore were indeed far ahead of their time in envisioning a future where uncertainty and volatility would become part of the new normal, exacerbated by the global pandemic, a so-called “Black Swan” event of extreme rarity and deleterious implications on the economy.”

Ms Ashmita Acharya, Retail Banking Head Citi Singapore said, “As we enter the 12th year of our partnership, I’m delighted that the Programme continues to stay effective and relevant in its mission to strengthen financial literacy amongst young adults. During the pandemic, the Programme pivoted to a full online delivery, achieving many firsts in the process. For the young adults, I cannot emphasise more on the importance of continuous learning and financial literacy in our daily lives. Fundamental financial management like budgeting and learning the different ways to steward your resources are crucial life skills that will put you in good stead in life.”

The Symposium featured esteemed industry professionals, academics and regulators who shared their valuable insights with a group of over 150 participants, which included students, guests from partner organisations and government agencies.

Held in a hybrid format this year, the theme of the Symposium was “Rise of a Generation: Adaptability in an Accelerated World”.  Through a fireside chat and three panel sessions, four key financial literacy topics were curated to address young adults’ concerns on about being adaptable and resilient in the increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world that we live in. They include:

Resilience (Fireside Chat) - Learning to achieve financial resilience in the face of a myriad of spending temptations;

Crypto: Decrypted (Panel 1) - How to navigate the risks and rewards surrounding Cryptocurrencies and Non-Fungible Tokens;

Rise of Women Leaders of Tomorrow (Panel 2) - How women are casting gender stereotypes aside and rising up to the occasion as leaders in their communities;

Money is King, Again (Panel 3) - How one can live sustainably while managing the rising cost of living. 

Commenting on the theme of the symposium, SMU President Prof Lily Kong said, “The people of Generation Z are beset with concerns about the changing financial and economic landscape, and face challenges unprecedented and unique to them. The Covid-19 pandemic, Russia-Ukraine conflict, supply chain disruptions, and inflationary pressures have highlighted the importance of being financially literate and resilient.”

During the Fireside Chat on “Resilience”, which was moderated by Ms Hagen Phia, President of 9th Student Executive Committee of the Citi SMU Fin Lit Programme,  Mr David Chua, CEO, National Youth Council provided an important advice for youths -  To look at their life purpose, what they really want and really need, as this would help them make their decisions on how to allocate their finances.

Panel Session 1 which discussed “Crypto Decrypted,” on the genesis, adoption and the future of cryptocurrencies, Non Fungible Tokens (NFT’s) and the Distributed Ledger Technology like blockchains geared towards youth was moderated by Jeremy Goh, Associate Professor of Finance, SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business, and included panellists Mr Ryan Lye, Founder & Investor, CryptoGrinders and Mr Gabriel Sim, Growth Lead, Salad Ventures.

Panel 2, which was moderated by Ms Damayanti Shahani, Managing Director, Principium Consulting & Chair, Impact Committee, 100 Women in Finance Singapore, discussed the “Rise of Women Leaders of Tomorrow”. Panellists included Ms Tanya Rolfe, Co-founder, Sophia & Co-founder, Harriet, and Ms Low Chin Loo, Strategic Advisor, EDGE Strategy & Strategic Engagement Chair, Financial Women’s Association Singapore (FWA).

The 3rd panel discussion was titled “Money is King Again,” discussed aspects of Sustainable Finance in consumption and investment behaviour of young adults. It was moderated by Aurobindo Ghosh, Assistant Professor of Finance, SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business, Director of the Citi Foundation SMU Financial Literacy Programme and included panellists Mr Sertac Yeltekin, Co-founder and General Partner, Purpose Venture Capital and Ms Amanda Yap, Head of ESG – Investment, Fullerton Fund Management Company.

Wrapping up the symposium, Asst Prof Aurobindo Ghosh concluded that Gen Z appreciates authenticity. He said, “If they care about something, they will pursue it a lot more. We should keep that in mind (when approaching Gen Z) and be true to ourselves.”