MoneyTree Malaysia CEO, Brandon Liew on financial literacy (Interview)

Will you be amazed if a 7 years old can explain the concept of inflation in his own words? Apparently that is the outcome of the financial education program run by MoneyTree. I interviewed the CEO and founder of MoneyTree Malaysia, Brandon Liew on making a dent in the universe in raising financial literacy among Malaysian kids, teenagers & youths.

Brandon believes that to make financial education work for children, the approach has got to be fine-tuned. That means no traditional classroom teaching but instead, a series of fully interactive sessions. To summarize it, I think it is a hybrid of your Monopoly game and The Sims (the lifestyle simulation computer game) combined.

moneytree asia financial literacy

And that is not all. To make the program cum workshop more rewarding, the MoneyTree currency used in the game can be used to redeem real stuff in an “auction”, ranging from movie tickets to McDonald vouchers. Top of the line type of redemption include stuff like Playstation. How cool is that? The incentivized approach works to keep the participants hyper attentive, at the same time teaching them concepts without even trying.

MoneyTree graduates apparently is able to read a fund’s prospectus and its details like sales charge, type of funds, etc. And then there is even a simulation of the stock market in the workshop itself, complete with business news that will move the market.

Besides that, MoneyTree is collaborating with the Ministry of Education and Maybank Foundation to further their reach in delivering financial education to the masses. Brandon believes that the ones who need financial education the most is not the wealthy people, but instead, children who are not well to do. This is an initiative known as the National Financial Literacy Project, making financial education part of school’s curriculum.

As we were chatting, this Malay proverb came up – “melentur buluh biarlah dari rebungnya“. He realized that teaching adults about money is naturally more difficult as there is this resistance or ego in most people  So true! I could definitely relate to this – it is not impossible but the approach isn’t as straightforward. Obviously, Brandon and his team have an easier job in this aspect.

The truth that amazes me is that when Brandon and his team teach kids about money, there is this spillover effect. How? When the parents cannot answer their kid’s questions on money. Then they go back to Brandon and his team asking whether they got programs for adults. Awesome.

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