Written by Emina Sotto / Photos by Bea Tabios / Post-processing by Sofia Nolasco / Poster by Cheska Tiongson
DevSeries: Dare to Envision is a series of department-specific talks geared for MEcO members interested in gaining specialized skills in their respective departments. It is a project under the Human Resources department.
What is the power of investing early?
Members of the Investment Strategies department as well as MEcO Advancement Program (MAP) participants gathered to listen to speaker Mr. Mark Ilao, Business Development Manager of COL Financial Group, Inc. last November 6 in BEL 313 to know the answer to this very question.
To begin his talk, Mr. Ilao told the attendees the commonly known words of wisdom made by parents: “Study hard and pray hard so that you can get a good job.” However, although this statement is true, he responded by strongly emphasizing that a high-paying job is not equal to financial security.
He shared how his former college batchmates wished that they were taught about investing and handling finances during their years in university. “That is the missing piece in our education system,” he stressed. Thus, he believes in the importance of financial literacy.
Furthermore, Mr. Ilao shared important insights about financial management to the attendees by emphasizing the power of investing early. For him, saving is not enough. In his words, “Saving is an act of necessity, investing is an act of optimism.” These optimists are stock market investors.
To introduce investing, he defined the stock market as a place where companies can raise capital and where one can invest in these ‘publicly listed’ companies. He explained that the stock market is a relationship between companies, stock exchange or stock brokers, and investors or shareholders.
According to Mr. Ilao, stocks are the best tool to build long-term wealth. To further prove his point, he compared investing in time deposits or property versus stocks. In both cases, investing in stocks still emerged the ideal option as it had better benefits and greater returns.
He then moved on to Stock Market 101 where he shared four important guidelines on investing.
First, invest for the long term. For him, it is better to have a long term perspective when it comes to the stock market as numerous things can happen in just a short amount of time.
Second, invest only in quality businesses. He shared that the biggest mistake of investors is falling into the trap of tips given by others without knowing anything about a company. Thus, investing in companies that are well-known is a better option as they have already gained a credible reputation and have acquired trust from the public.
Third, invest using diversification. As the famous saying goes, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” which simply means allocate your money in different investments in order to efficiently manage risks.
Lastly, invest by using a plan. Mr. Ilao stressed the importance of having a strategy. This is to ensure success and to sustain one’s investment journey.
He then discussed the two ways of investing in the stock market. One way would be by investing in listed stocks or individual buy companies. According to Mr. Ilao, listed stocks are more ideal for people who do not have time to monitor the stock market, desire hands-on experience, and have enough capital.
Additionally, an ideal way for beginning investors would be to invest in mutual funds or forms of baskets with different companies, wherein an expert will be investing on an investor’s behalf. This form of investing is simple, convenient, and low-maintenance as stocks are diversified right away.
An important point Mr. Ilao raised is the main problem in investing: human emotion. He discussed that an investor’s tendency to be swayed by their feelings whenever the stock market rises or falls is their greatest disadvantage, and thus, must be avoided at all costs.
Mr. Ilao ended his talk by stressing that one’s most important asset is time, most especially because the Philippines is in a “demographic sweet spot” or a phase where growth is certainly possible.
He advised the room of aspiring student-investors to harness the power of time so that they may achieve their financial goals at an earlier age. Thus, in Mr. Ilao’s words, they “can extend to other people as men and women for others.”
There was no doubt that the event was a huge success as the attendees left with significant knowledge about financial management and investing (with complimentary snacks as a bonus!). More importantly, they acquired better understanding of financial security and how it is not always guaranteed by a high-paying job. Thus, they gained a better perspective on handling finances that will benefit them in the long run.
Ultimately, this event shows how MEcO is able to educate its members by molding them into individuals that are financially literate and well-equipped for the future.