For most Bruneians, financial planning is something they only start thinking about between the ages of 30 and 40.

While more people are beginning to realise the importance of early financial planning, they need to start sooner than they think, says Hj Mohd Fuad Hamdi Pehin Dato Hj Salim.

As the assistant general manager of Takaful Brunei Keluarga (TBK), one of Brunei’s leading Islamic insurance companies, he says he comes across the same mistakes when it comes to saving for the future.

TBK assistant general manager Hj Mohd Fuad. Photo: Courtesy of Takaful Brunei

“Not saving early enough is typical in Brunei. This may be because we are privileged in the sense that we do not see the need to have savings or to have protection.”

He sits down with The Scoop to share some of the most common financial mistakes people make and the basics of Islamic financial planning (IFP).

HOW ISLAMIC FINANCIAL PLANNING BENEFITS OTHERS

In general, conventional financial planning is about accumulating wealth and having protection, says Hj Mohd Fuad. But what sets IFP apart is planning for the afterlife.

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“The main difference is that with IFP, you plan for this life and the afterlife… We want to make sure that the people you leave behind won’t be burdened by financial stress.”

IFP also takes into account charity and giving to those in need, a factor that makes it attractive to many of TBK’s clients.

It not only helps individuals meet their financial goals, but it also helps purify their accumulated wealth, says Hj Mohd Fuad. The Islamic principle of redistribution of wealth ensures that the underprivileged can benefit from the charity of other Muslims.

“Since we started doing IFP in the second quarter of 2017, we have been able to convince more people to take up Takaful certificates and save more,” he shares, adding that IFP services have helped TBK grow by six per cent since it was introduced.

STARTING YOUNG

Growing your wealth begins with savings, and if you think building your savings only starts from when you earn an income — you’re mistaken.

“To start young is always the best thing. Our younger generation is not exposed [to a savings culture], so generally people only think of financial planning when they start working,” Hj Mohd Fuad says.

A TBK financial planning roadshow at Politeknik Brunei. These roadshows are slowly breeding a financially literate generation. Photo: Courtesy of Takaful Brunei

“However, the moment you get a job, saving is not necessarily the first thing that you think of, it’s spending. So it’s common [for young people] to only start saving after a few years of working.”

Maturity in financial management “usually come a bit late” for Bruneians, he explains. Tackling the problem head on, TBK has been carrying out monthly roadshows targeting school and college students since 2014.

According to Nazmil Hj Souyono from Takaful Brunei’s marketing unit, the roadshows are slowly breeding a financially literate generation.

“What I have been seeing is an increase in the number of students who enquire about protection and insurance.”

PREPARING FOR THE WORST — WHAT YOU NEED

“But before anything else, you must have an emergency fund,” says Hj Mohd Fuad.

An emergency fund should be able to support a person for at least six months in the event of any unforeseen circumstances, such as losing a job.

And just because healthcare is affordable in Brunei, does not mean that medical protection should be neglected either.

An increasingly popular product at TBK, medical insurance is especially sought after when traveling overseas for people seeking treatment outside of the country.

SAVINGS CHECKLIST

• Start planning your financial goals early

• Build an emergency fund with enough money to cover you for 6 months

• Plan for retirement when you start working — you’ll need to save  15 years of household expenditure

Last year alone, there were over 700 claims — equivalent to nearly $5 million — made for medical insurance, showing how it plays a major role in giving people peace of mind.

“You never know when you’ll need it,” adds the TBK manager.

DO YOU HAVE ENOUGH FOR RETIREMENT?

One of TBK’s best-selling products is in retirement savings, indicating that Bruneians are becoming aware they need to supplement their TAP (Tabung Amanah Pekerja) with additional savings.

“You need to see what your current lifestyle is like. If you want to maintain that lifestyle once you have retired, then you might need anywhere between 50 and 70 per cent of your current household spending for retirement,” Hj Mohd Fuad suggests.

Relying solely on TAP — the national employee trust fund — is not enough, he says.

With the average life expectancy of Bruneians over 72 years, we need to prepare at least 15 years worth of household spending to support us through retirement.

“If you only depend on your TAP, sometimes it may not even get you through one year,” he explains. “As soon as you earn an income, start saving for your retirement. Don’t delay.”