Thomas-Felix gave the advice while delivering the feature address at the National Financial Reality Fair organised by the City of Portof- Spain Credit Union (COPOS) and more than a dozen other credit unions and sponsors.
It was held at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya.
As she began her address, Thomas-Felix told the students the story of Warren Buffet, perhaps the most famous investor in the world. She said he became an investor at an early age and at 14 years of age bought a small farm from the profit he had made from his neighbourhood paper route. She added that by the time he finished high school he had $90,000 in savings and is now the second richest man in the world after Bill Gates. Thomas-Felix advised the students to think about spending and saving wisely.
She said as teenagers they might get an allowance from their parents and relatives on a daily, weekly or monthly basis and, rather than spending it as quickly as they got it, they should spend and save wisely. “Think about what you would like to acquire and how you would need to save to acquire it. One of the easiest ways to help to achieve your goal is to develop a budget.” She said when they looked at their income and expenses they would be able to decide whether the financial goal they had in mind could be achieved in a short time or over a longer period. She advised that there is a financial system called “paying yourself first” which simply meant that every time they got some money they should put aside some as savings for their future.
She advised the students that it is never too early or too late to start saving and urged them that if they do have savings accounts at the bank to be aware of what interest they should expect. Then she asked how many of the students were investors.
No hands went up to which she expressed disappointment although, upon closer questioning, it turned out that some of the students did have mutual fund accounts with the Unit Trust Corporation or one of the banks which offer mutual funds but did not realise that this was part of investing.
Thomas-Felix said while the students didn’t fully understand what investing was about they shouldn’t feel too badly because many adults didn’t understand either.
She added that investors who were afraid of risk could consider investing in mutual funds since these types of investments pool the funds and invest them over different types of investment products.
“Those of you willing to take risks in order to generate larger returns can look to investing in the stock market.” Recalling that she used to be Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SE C) Thomas-Felix said that organisation regulated the Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange and other organisations which sold investments to the public.
She advised the students not to place all their investment eggs into one basket.
“The most important thing for you to recognise is that investing can make your money grow much faster than ordinary saving instruments,” she said, warning that investing has a risk attached to it “therefore there is no guarantee that you would not lose your money.
It is important that you seek professional advice from registered financial advisers who can help you to map your goals, determine your risk profile and make suggestions as to how you spend your investment among different categories.”