ON April 24, the fifth day of the Unit Trust Week 2017 in Temerloh, Pahang, some 183,426 people thronged the exhibition.
This number ballooned to 208,416 the following day and on the final day of the unit trust week, with residents from the district and neighbouring Bera and Jerantut, having braved the scorching heat, heading to the huge air-conditioned hall adjacent to Dewan Tun Razak.
There, parents and children in tow, young couples, and elderly pakcik and makcik visited booths promoting investment products of companies linked to Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), the biggest fund management company in Malaysia.
The large number of visitors indicated society’s interest in investing in fundamentally sound companies as a means of securing financial returns for a better future for them and their loved ones. But, it has not always been like that.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who was with PNB from 1979 to 1985, noted that Malaysians in the past were not inclined to keep their monies in investment vehicles.
At the unit trust week’s closing ceremony last Saturday, Zahid lauded PNB’s constant promoting of its investment vehicles, which convinced more Malaysians to start investing instead of just saving money.
He said in the past, most Malaysians’ savings were “forced” through methods like the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), a mandatory contribution a person needs to make to ensure he or she has some form of saved monies when he or she retires.
He noted, though, that Malaysia’s savings rate now stands at 38 per cent, which is close to the 40 per cent savings rate of developed countries.
A cursory glance at the 2015 gross savings data by country, courtesy of data.worldbank.org, confirmed that Malaysia has a gross savings rate of 28 per cent, which is identical with countries like Germany, the Netherlands, Malta, Morocco, and Sri Lanka.
The website puts Malaysia above several developed countries like Japan (27 per cent), Belgium (23 per cent), Australia (23 per cent) and the United States (19 per cent), among others.
Malaysians could certainly go further in investing their hard-earned money.
For one, investing in the stock market, whether directly or through unit trusts, helps companies expand their businesses, which, in turn, boosts the country’s economy.
In the long run, investing in unit trust schemes on average would net a higher return than if one were to keep the money in fixed deposit or savings accounts.
According to financial portal https://ringgitplus.com, fixed deposits have only a 3.9 per cent annual return at most, and savings accounts’ annual return ranges between 0.3 and 4.1 per cent.
According to another financial portal, www.imoney.my, even a low-risk investment in one of Amanah Mutual Bhd’s unit trusts has netted an 8.51 per cent return over the past one year, and that one unit trust by RHB-OSK, which invests globally, recorded a 24.58 per cent return over the last one year.
However, this does not mean one can just willy-nilly jump into any investment vehicle that comes one’s way with sweet promises of high returns. As with any other investment or venture, we must exercise caution and seek the advice of experts or gurus. Common sense and due diligence can prevent one from falling victim to scammers that prey on a victim’s gullibility and greed.
A sobering case in point is the April 19 arrest of a suspected mastermind of a crude palm oil investment scam that swindled RM31 million from its victims.
Bersusah dahulu, bersenang kemudian is an apt Malay saying, denoting working hard in analysing suitable investments for future — that should guide us in our long-term financial decisions.