Business Development Officer Shaka St Ange speaks to students at SALCC (Southern Extension)
Monroe students keenly listen to Business Development Officer Christine Charlemagne
CASTRIES, St Lucia -- Local financial institution First Citizens Investment Services last month launched a series of activities in Saint Lucia, including a college road show, to mark Financial Information Month (FIM) 2013, being held under the theme "Reshaping Our Future, Starting Now".
The recognition of October as FIM is an initiative of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank and is aimed at educating communities about the basics of personal financial management and consumer skills in order to set the framework for financially stable consumers of financial products and services. The ECCB hopes to promote awareness and understanding of the various savings, spending and investment choices and to encourage a balance between spending, borrowing, saving and investing in order to achieve a successful financial life.
Among the activities spearheaded by First Citizens was a college road show called "CommonCents: What Every College Student Should Know" that saw the business development team of First Citizens visiting tertiary institutions on the island in an effort to boost financial literacy in Saint Lucia.
The road show started in the south of the island on Monday October 21 at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC) Southern Extension. Over 70 students from the Vieux Fort campus got the opportunity to get free financial advice from First Citizens Investment Services business development officer, Shaka St Ange, who gave information on budgeting, making strategic financial decisions and sound investments for the future. Students also had the opportunity to win prizes by participating in exercises associated with the presentation.
The road show then took the First Citizens team to SALCC north on Wednesday October 23 for a presentation delivered by First Citizens business development manager, Priscilla Charles, to about 25 students. The session was very interactive as students asked questions about their finances and took part in activities to help them become better investors.
Monroe College was also included in the FIM action on Thursday October 31, when business development officer (retail), Christine Charlemagne, gave the group of 22 students at the college tips on savings and investments strategies that would reap the most rewards. The session was endorsed by the Monroe Students Council and participants received useful information such as the benefits of "opening saving and investment accounts that remain untouchable and making automatic monthly deposits into these accounts."
Students getting ready to set off into the world of work were advised to set aside at least 5-10 percent of their salary towards savings and investments. The consistent thread was to remain disciplined when it came to this monthly contribution.
Speaking about the college visits, Charles explained that it has been quite enlightening to speak with young people about financial issues.
"Often we hear that young people are not concerned about finance but judging from our visits and the kinds of queries we received, young people are realizing that the earlier you start to think about your financial future the better off you will be," she said. "We should all be thinking about how we manage our wealth, how to make the most of the financial system and about our retirement and home ownership plans. In deciding what to do to mark Financial Information Month, First Citizens recognized that we needed to send a message to our young people because this is where we can really begin to change the mindset when it comes to the financial decisions that have an impact on the rest of our lives. The better informed all our people are about these issues, the better off we will all be."
First Citizens also launched a column in the Saint Lucia Star newspaper called "CommonCents" that provides weekly financial advice.
The ECCB's resident representative, Gregor Franklyn, pointed out that collaboration with financial institutions such as First Citizens has greatly assisted in bringing financial and economic education to the general public.
Franklyn noted: "The ECCB is looking forward to continued support from our financial services partners in bringing information to the public especially in the trying economic times that we all are operating in."
First Citizens Investment Services is the first and largest full service brokerage firm in the Caribbean, with operations in Trinidad, Barbados, St Lucia and St Vincent. The company is regulated by the Eastern Caribbean Securities Regulatory Commission (ECSRC), a regulating body under the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), and is also the first overseas broker-dealer registered on the Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange (ECSE).