updated 30 Mar 2014, 09:12
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Wed, Mar 19, 2014
The Straits Times
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Empowering women with financial literacy
by Chia Yan Min

Most of us try to avoid taking work home, but Ms Yash Mishra's professional expertise has come in handy even outside the office.

The managing director of Taurus Wealth Advisors is a strong believer in financial literacy, and where better to start than at home.

She is teaching her two children how to manage their money and has even helped her domestic worker of six years save enough to set up a business in her home country.

"She is one of my best success stories," says Ms Mishra, who adds that she topped up her domestic worker's yearly savings dollar for dollar in a bid to encourage her to put more money aside.

Taurus Wealth Advisors specialises in wealth management for families and high-net-worth individuals.

Financial literacy is a cause that hits close to home both professionally and personally for Ms Mishra, 43, who began her financial career as an investment banker in India.

The Singapore permanent resident, who has also worked in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia, said the ability to handle money is lacking across countries and at all levels of the socio-economic ladder.

"People tend to spend more time planning their holidays than planning their finances," she says.

Women are an especially vulnerable group, and Ms Mishra has devoted much of her energy towards trying to change this.

She has volunteered for various organisations, including facilitating free financial planning clinics with the Association of Women for Action and Research and teaching at Aidha, a micro business school here that promotes financial literacy to foreign domestic workers.

"Women might be juggling different roles, or taking time off from work... their economic lifespan is shorter, they live longer, and they might not have as much interest in their own or their family's financial affairs, yet they can make a significant impact on a family's financial well-being," says Ms Mishra, whose other passion is painting.

She credits strong female role models in her own life for teaching her about the importance of financial independence - her grandmother ran the family's finances while her mother was one of India's youngest female professors.

Financial literacy might seem a daunting hurdle for some, but even "small, simple changes" can lead to better money management - a mindset Ms Mishra has tried to inculcate in her son, 14, and five-year-old daughter.

Besides being encouraged to save, the children also help to plan family holidays and events like birthday celebrations.

"It's empowering to them to be able to make decisions, and they also learn about budgeting and making trade-offs," Ms Mishra says.

Still, she stressed that money, while important, is but "a means to an end". "For a lot of people, money becomes tied up with their emotional well-being," she adds.

"People associate their self-worth with their money, and that is a very dangerous situation to be in... wealth management practitioners should help their clients understand that."

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