Paridhi Jain is the founder of leading financial education platform SkilledSmart, but in 2013 she was a case manager at the Cancer Council, and the experience changed her life.
She would spend her days on the phone to people who had been diagnosed with cancer and as a result, were suffering from financial stress.
“That was my first exposure to how many people struggle with their finances,” she told Yahoo Finance.
“It was a bit of a wake up call. I think when you’re younger you have this kind of naive idea that finances are just something that grown ups figure out, and that was my light bulb moment of, ‘Wait, I’ve spoken to grown ups in their 70s and beyond and they haven’t figured it out.’”
People genuinely thought they were doing their best, but when the devastating diagnoses came, the holes in their financial strategies became clear to see.
“That was a heartbreaking thing.”
Fast-forward a few years, and Jain was working in the corporate world.
She and her friends were young professionals but they shared a disturbing similarity to the people she used to speak to at the Cancer Council: they weren’t as financially literate as they should have been.
Jain had an epiphany: no matter what profession someone was doing, their life stage, their income or even their net worth, there was no guarantee that anyone actually knew what they were doing with their money.
And the risks of this huge dearth of financial awareness were huge. Jain had seen it herself and was frustrated.
“Around 85 per cent of Australians never engage a financial advisor and the cost is a big prohibiting factor. There’s a massive chronic problem that the vast majority of Australians experience and effectively no solution: either you hire a financial advisor or you’re stuck trying to figure it out yourself.”
In 2017, Jain launched SkilledSmart with a hope of plugging the gap.
SkilledSmart is an online financial education platform with a goal of ensuring every Australian becomes financially literate. It teaches students how to save, manage and invest their money through a series of modules taking them from budgeting to tax to super, investing and more.
Crucially, it’s built in collaboration with finance professionals.
Jain, who herself had to unlearn some limiting financial habits, knew that she was also on a financial growth journey.
“Our real focus was, ‘How do we get financial professionals who know what they’re doing to contribute to the program and be a part of the program?’ So it was all done in collaboration.”
Today, she considers that mixture of financial expertise and real life experience the secret sauce. Where the financial experts may have difficulty translating complex concepts into easy to understand information, she can step in.
The process of learning about your money is often a frustrating and painful experience, she said, so it’s important that the lessons come from a place of understanding.
She said the most common emotion she sees her students experience is shame at how little they know, but she firmly believes there should be no shame. Everyone needs to start somewhere - it’s just a matter of choosing to start.
“I’d love to see every Australian financially educated. The impact of education on every aspect of your life is phenomenal.”
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