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Laurence Newman

Boosting Financial Literacy: Summit Unveils Strategies for a More Secure Financial Future Vietnamese Consumers

The first-ever Vietnam Financial Empowerment Summit took place at the Hilton Saigon on 23 May. Organized by NordCham, Home Credit Vietnam, and Decision Lab, the summit brought together CEOs, founders, academics, non-profits, investors, and consumer finance companies to discuss the current financial climate, the challenges facing consumers, and how to create greater financial resilience through cross-sector innovation, education, and collaboration.

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Themed ‘Supporting Vietnamese People to Improve their Financial Well-being’, the summit featured presentations and panel discussions with Home Credit Vietnam, DSV Air & Sea, Tititada, FIDT, NOI, Decision Lab, the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI), and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Financial Empowerment Summit was organised after new research from Home Credit Vietnam and Decision Lab highlighted a growing demand for consumer credit and a greater need for financial literacy.

Download "Supporting Vietnamese people to improve their financial well-being" report

The potential for collaboration

In the first panel session, moderator Jennifer Pham, Regional Sustainability Advisor at the Danish Embassy in Vietnam welcomed Angélique Masse Nguyen, Co-founder & CEO of NOI; Eric Herding, Managing Director of DSV Air & Sea Vietnam; and Trinh Quang Long, Economist advisor of ADBI to discuss how business, government, and finance can work together to improve financial literacy among workers and communities.


Five insights from the panel:

  1. Staff who understand their personal finances at work – including income tax and social insurance – tend to be better at managing their budgets at home. So, companies can contribute to financial literacy by educating their staff about how their salaries and contributions are calculated.
  2. Financial education is scattered across different sectors and agencies. There are small, individual programs aimed at different groups. But none of these are joined up at the population level or implemented across different industries or communities.
  3. Research shows that people soon forget the lessons learned in training if these are not reinforced on a regular basis. Old habits die hard. So, people who attend one-off training sessions tend to return to their previous behaviour after around 12-18 months.
  4. Women face specific challenges: Almost two-thirds (62%) do not feel understood by the financial services sector. Meanwhile, there is a lack of resources targeting women and their priorities. Consumer finance companies need to work with women to better understand and respond to their needs through gender-sensitive marketing campaigns.
  5. Those in the greatest need of financial education often have the lowest demand for it. Financial education is seen as “something for rich people”. This ‘perception problem’ needs to be addressed in future financial education campaigns.

Download "Supporting Vietnamese people to improve their financial well-being" report

Making the right decision

In the second panel session, Pham Ngoc Khang, General Director of Home Credit; Thue Quist Thomasen, CEO of Decision Lab; Ngo Thanh Huan, CEO of FIDT; and Nguyen Thi Huong Giang, Founder & CEO of Tititada, discussed how consumer finance companies can improve financial literacy, practical guidance in budgeting and debt management, and empowerment strategies for consumers.


Five insights from the panel:

  1. Economic growth has been rapid, but household incomes are still low and a sizeable proportion is spent on basic living costs. This low disposable income makes saving more difficult. However, financial education can empower consumers to make smarter spending decisions, helping them to grow their savings and create a more secure financial future.
  2. Before investing in long-term assets like real estate, people first need to ensure that their basic necessities are covered. First-time investors can be too optimistic and chase riskier assets or put all their eggs in one basket. This lack of financial education or diversification leaves them at risk if the market suffers a downturn and their basic expenses can no longer be met.
  3. Traditional assets, such as real estate and savings accounts, are becoming less accessible and appealing: real estate prices are high and interest rates are falling. Therefore, people are looking for alternatives, such as the stock market. However, those with poor financial literacy lack a proper understanding of these asset classes.
  4. Consumers need to understand the potential risks as well as the possible returns before investing. Meanwhile, lenders need to be transparent and disclose relevant information so consumers can make informed decisions. Likewise, the government needs to ensure that providers are required to do this so that lenders and borrowers have equal access to information.
  5. Financial products are inaccessible, particularly for people in rural areas. Consumer finance companies can innovate to reach un- and under-banked communities. For instance, fin-tech solutions like mobile apps and digital wallets can make financial services more accessible and facilitate greater financial inclusion. A specific example would be Home Credit Vietnam with Home App and Buy Now Pay Later – Home PayLater solution.
Download "Supporting Vietnamese people to improve their financial well-being" report

Three takeaways from the Financial Empowerment Summit

  1. Responsible finance requires companies and consumers to understand their respective rights and mutual obligations. That means lenders need to help their customers have a better understanding of borrowing, budgeting, and investing; being open and transparent rather than bamboozling them with financial jargon.
  2. Financial education requires a cross-sector coalition of government, education, and business to improve financial literacy among their customers, companies, and communities. Financial education should begin at school and continue into adulthood, with life-long learning empowering people to secure a sustainable financial future.
  3. Consumers value transparent, trusted, and accessible financial products. Companies who understand these needs and provide services to match will be in pole position among the growing market of consumers with increasing demand for credit.

Download "Supporting Vietnamese people to improve their financial well-being" report

At the Financial Empowerment Summit, Pham Ngoc Khang, the General Director of Home Credit Vietnam, stated:

Home Credit acts as a responsible lender by properly assessing a customer's repayment capability and providing them with transparent financial solutions. On the other hand, it is also critical for customers to understand the commitment they are taking on. At Home Credit, we bridge these two sides by offering diverse and customized products, in addition to knowledge about personal financial management.

Speaking at the Financial Empowerment Summit, Thue Quist Thomasen, CEO of Decision Lab, said:

Financial health and well-being are key to individual productivity, business profitability, and national prosperity. When people know how to manage their money and feel secure in their personal finances, they are happier and more successful in their jobs. This has a ripple effect throughout the economy. 

“However, our research shows that there is a financial literacy gap, particularly for people on lower incomes. That’s why we are bringing together this cross-sector coalition for financial education. We want to start a conversation about how companies, universities, non-profits, and the government can embed financial literacy throughout society.

Download "Supporting Vietnamese people to improve their financial well-being" report

About Decision Lab:

Decision Lab is committed to driving new thinking and technology in marketing with Vietnam's most modern market research offering. Combining Decision Lab’s thought leadership and problem-crunching capability with the industry’s strongest data solutions provides a best-in-class offering for leading innovative brands that are ready to transform with the changing market conditions. 

Decision Lab – the only boutique agency in the country – is well-known for its thought leadership in digital media and understanding of a new generation of consumers. Since 2016, the agency has been driven by global technology partners and a sought-after talent programme. It has also worked with some of the most forward-thinking multinational and global brands as well as leading global tech giants. Decision Lab is the exclusive partner of YouGov in Vietnam.