OPINION | So, You Want to Invest?

F. Bustamante

An article on the worrisome trend of investment scams in the Philippines was recently published on this paper. The author laid out a strong argument about the need for consumer awareness and education. Indeed one cannot ignore the role of even the most basic understanding of money, and some necessary due diligence, in making an informed decision on how and where to invest. However this argument  focuses on just one side of the equation - the investor- and does not address the essential role of government regulation and oversight, or even the input of professional associations with power to set ethical standards for its members. 

Protecting the Filipino investor should involve at least three things: transparency, accountability and consumer education. Sensible regulation and policy that advance transparency and accountability are necessary to protect investors and allow for an investment environment that is consistent with applicable laws and, at the minimum, levels with international standards. An investment environment with some system of checks and balance protect both investor and investee and promote faith and trust in the system. These, in turn, help firm up the foundation of an environment that is fair and beneficial to all. 

Advisories, which were mentioned in the article I read, does not necessarily have teeth or even legs to stand on. They are merely formal notices. If there are no set laws, guidelines and regulations that draw a line where one cannot cross, Filipino investors, especially those without enough understanding of what investing is about, will be at the mercy of people and circumstance. Clearly, there are only two ways to go: be proactive or react after the fact. A responsible system will promote the former. 

The globalization of the past 20 or 30 years dramatically increased the income and potential for earnings of the Filipino people. With increased disposable income, Filipinos seek avenues to make their hard earned money grow. Investing is a natural progression of this shift that the Philippine government should have visualized long ago,  and prepared for. After all, the country's workers, especially its OFW's who are the very backbone of the country's economy, will not be working forever. A sound financial future and a retirement nest egg for Filipinos who worked long and hard away from family, friends and country should be one goal that the government can jump on with enthusiasm and vision. It's just right and fair.