Hong Leong Bank launches HLB DuitSmart initiative

  • Bank works with AKPK and UM on a financial literacy platform
  • Creates awareness on credit score and demystifying financial jargon


(From left) UM Vice Chancellor Dr Abdul Rahim Hashim; AKPK CEO Azaddin Ngah Tasir; Hong Leong Bank group MD and CEO Domenic Fuda; and iMoney group CEO Mitul Lakhani

A HONG Leong Bank and Hong Leong Islamic Bank (HLB) survey on levels of financial literacy amongst Malaysians nationwide showed more concerted efforts are needed to make financial knowledge simple and straightforward as well as easily accessible to all Malaysians.

Results of the survey which was done in collaboration with iMoney showed that:

  • 75% rated their financial knowledge as low to average proficiency,
  • 63% found financial jargons to be confusing and intimidating, further discouraging them to seek early financial information,
  • Surprisingly, only 19% knew all the right ways to maintain a good credit score, even though most claimed that they understood what the credit score is,
  • 68% believed that they do not have enough savings in general,
  • 41% said they didn’t know who and where to get help to better manage their money.

This prompted the Bank to launch HLB DuitSmart, a financial sustainability initiative with the support of the Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency (AKPK) and University of Malaya (UM), which is focused on engaging Malaysians with approachable and relatable content and activities on financial knowledge and information.

This includes tackling some of the key areas of concern shown in the survey to increase greater awareness and understanding on the importance of credit score and to demystify some fundamental financial jargon to make financial information and knowledge more accessible to all Malaysians.

According to Domenic Fuda, group managing director and chief executive officer of Hong Leong Bank, HLB DuitSmart initiative is part of the bank’s effort to enable Malaysians to be financially sustainable.

“As a Malaysian financial institution with over a century of rooted history in the country, we have a responsibility to play our part to help bridge the gap on awareness and knowledge of financial matters in our communities.

“Mastering financial concepts is a life skill and HLB DuitSmart also strives to engender long term behavioral change through focusing on three pillars – create awareness on financial knowledge and assist with the right tools to enable Malaysians to act appropriately when it comes to financial matters,“ said Fuda.

“Most people think financial knowledge means knowing how to save and manage borrowings, but there’s more than just saving and managing loans/financing. Knowing what your credit score and how to maintain and improve it is also crucial because your ability to apply for future loans/financing is impacted, whether you are an individual or company. The sooner we grasp this concept, the sooner we can cultivate financially responsible habits which will enhance our future financial freedom,” he added.

To make it accessible for Malaysians to kickstart their financial education journey with the aid of the right tools, HLB DuitSmart will curate and provide financial knowledge information online as well as enable Malaysians to check their credit score through its partnership with iMoney from Sept 6 till the end of the month.

HLB DuitSmart will also be activating year-long on-ground engagement roadshows with the public including visiting media houses, universities and corporate organisations nationwide as well as organising Hong Leong Bank in-branch activities for customers and people in the communities.

At the roadshows, members of the public can learn and challenge their financial knowledge through interactive digital games, learn more about credit scores, consult AKPK on financial health matters and chat with UM’s AI-powered financial knowledge chatbot called SUNDAY.

During the launch, there was a sharing session between Fuda, Ir Dr. Abdul Rahim Hashim, Vice-Chancellor, UM and Azaddin Ngah Tasir, CEO of AKPK on the importance of financial education, the basis of credit score and why early financial education is an effective preventive measure to ensure lifelong good financial health.

“Last year, we launched HLB JumpStart, a CSR programme focusing in empowering Social Enterprises doing good for Malaysia to be sustainable in conjunction with Malaysia Day. This year, we are introducing HLB DuitSmart, a CSR initiative to enable Malaysians to be financially sustainable. We hope that through this initiative we can do our part to enable Malaysians to be more financially informed and ultimately, able to achieve their financial sustainability that will allow them to reduce, and hopefully eliminate, poor financial decisions,” said Fuda.


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