Last weekend, I concluded a 10-week financial literacy course for women. Hosted by a local NGO, this course was largely for homemakers and women who worked as domestic help and/or cooks in areas nearby.
Having worked in financial services for a decade, I am fortunate to have learned financial planning very early in my life. I come from a family where I am the third generation woman to be financially independent. It took one incident in my life for me to realize how this wasn’t a norm.
The year was 2006. I was working for HDFC as a Client Servicing personnel. One afternoon a lady walked into my desk. She looked pretty disheveled and confused. I motioned her to sit down on the chair before my desk and asked, “How can I help you?”
She brought out some crumpled papers from her bag and asked me to look at them. “I want my money.” That’s all she could manage to whisper. I requested someone to get her a glass of water while I went through the contents of the papers. They all were account statements of various mutual fund houses where investments were made in the name of man.
On interrogating a bit further, I came to know, the investor was her father, who was now deceased. She was in an abusive marriage. Her father had given her these papers asking her to hide them from her husband, as he wanted only her to have this money in case of any emergency. She was on the verge of tears as she narrated this whole story to me, requesting if I could help her get the money.
After a long and painful cycle of close to 45-50 days, she got all the money. This cycle involved opening a bank account for her, getting her father’s death certificate notarized and attested as all his investments were without nomination, and getting certified proof that she is his only living heir among many other things.
I felt sad as I thought, “Our loved ones might earn for us and leave behind enough money for us to lead a good life. But what if we don’t know how to access that money or claim it? What if someone cheats on us?”
Being financially independent is one thing and knowing where and what about the investments is another.
The saddest part was that she had to rely on me (a complete stranger). This incident happened when I had barely started my career. Since then, I have tried to educate women around me about the importance of financial literacy and help them understand the bare minimum of it.
Since 2018, I have been regularly hosting these workshops at no cost for a local NGO hoping to spread more awareness about financial literacy among women.
If you or someone you know, would like me to host a session for women on financial literacy, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, do let us know in the comments below if you would like to share some basic tips on Team KC’s blog.