Financial literacy levels among adults of working age in South Africa remain low. This raises concerns and highlights personal financial education's significant effect on households and the national economy.
South Africa is set to face one of the most economically challenging years yet, given the high cost of living, energy crisis and expected interest rate hikes. According to Stanley Gabriel, CEO of Momentum Investo, there has never been a better time to seek the right financial advice.
"Financial education is the key to your future financial success. Financial literacy has nothing to do with intelligence. It is simply about understanding financial terms. You don't need a degree to manage your finances effectively," says Gabriel. "We live in a world fuelled by technology, and because of this, information is readily available, and people can self-educate on most topics. If you need help with your finances but are unsure where to start, seek financial insights from books, articles by experts and other credible online resources," he says.
However, despite humankind's digital strides, Gabriel says the only time most South Africans take an interest in understanding concepts relating to personal finance is around their late 20s or even 30s, once they're earning a relatively bigger salary or want to apply for credit.
Digital resources are not the only way to educate yourself. Financial advisers also play a critical role in bridging the financial literacy gap. Gabriel says, "Financial advisers are qualified, trained and registered professionals who aim to provide thorough, unique and personal advice on your financials."
Gabriel says it is a common misconception that you need a financial adviser only when you earn a lot of money or are rich. He maintains that financial advice is for everyone and anyone regardless of income bracket. It should ideally start at an early age. "The science of success is the ability to build your momentum," he says.
"Understanding our finances is not second nature to most of us. Budgeting, investing, saving for retirement, and other important financial decisions should be backed up by information and education from a reliable source to yield the best results," he says.
Compound interest, unit trusts and annuities are complex and challenging terms for many people; therefore, speaking to a professional is a good idea. "A financial adviser can provide you with a full financial needs analysis and determine how much you will need by the time you retire, how much you need to save and why emergency savings are important," he says.
"Financial advisers also analyse what you want to achieve. They look at your priorities and how your current assets and income can help you achieve your goals and give your money game the edge. Simply put, financial advisers have the blueprint to securing your financial future," he says.
Given the grim outlook for 2023, this year is expected to throw some punches, especially at your finances. "You can fight back with reliable information and a financial adviser on your side," says Gabriel.