Suze Orman Gave Filipinos a Money Talk


Suze Orman, America’s most trusted financial advisor, was in town last February 25 to give a talk on taking control over one’s personal financial power. Approximately 700 guests filled the NBC tent Saturday morning to attend the Bank of the Philippine Islands event and listen to the “one-woman financial advice powerhouse” as described by US Today. A two-time Emmy-Award winning television host, she was in Manila to keep a promise made to her friend Doris Magsaysay-Ho, chairwoman of Asia Society Philippines, to help and inspire Filipinos in their need for financial literacy.  

“Hope is not a financial plan,” stated Orman who highlighted the jackpot-mentality that some Filipinos have when it comes to their money. One shouldn’t rely on the lottery and simply hope for the best or simply keep the money in your house safe and sound; you need to take control of the opportunities available when it comes to your finances.

Having been raised in an unruly neighborhood on the south side of Chicago, Orman was no stranger to poverty. She used to live in her car and waited on tables earning $400 a month for seven years until she dreamed of owning a restaurant of her own at the age of 30. Having heard her dream, one of her regular customers collected the contributions of other customers tantamount to $50,000 to lend to her for 10 years without interest. She took her money to Merrill Lynch to put in a money market account but the broker made her sign papers to make it seem like she was a sophisticated investor who was qualified to invest in stock options. Within three months, she lost the money.

Realizing she couldn't pay back the $50,000 with her job as a waitress, she applied as a broker  at Merrill Lynch and was hired due to the affirmative action that the company had to hire women. However, her boss informed her she would be fired in 6 months.

Studying as a broker, she learned that it was part of law as a broker not to invest someone's money in a way that he/she could not afford to invest it. She proceeded to sue Merrill Lynch for the bad handling of her $50,000 and because of the ongoing case, Merill Lynch could not fire her.

“Always do what is right than what is easy,” she said. The broker who lost her money was let go, her boss moved on and in 2 years she became one of Merill Lynch's top producers and earned her $50,000 back with 18% interest.   

For young people and their finances, Orman expressed the importance of saving a portion of their earnings regularly as early as possible. “The quickest way to get rich is to get rich slow” stated Francisco Colayco, a well-known author who was brough to the stage by Orman herself. There isn't a get-rich-quick formula to achieving one's wealth, but wealth can be gained by saving and investing continously slowly but surely.

On the Philippines, Orman stated we shouldn't go the way of the US where they allowed their economy to grow on credit, lending to people who could not afford to pay it back. “Build this country on cash so that it could never collapse, then you can change lives,” she said.

Orman's talk and very first appearance in the country that day to the 700 guests and employees of BPI indeed proved to be a success. Her message has provided inspiration to those who seek to gain financial freedom.