Financial Savviness as a Life Skill

18 Nov,2021



This is the concluding (or tenth) in our 10-part fortnightly series where Shaziya Khan has been focusing on the allyship of brands for financial savviness of women and girls. Link to the first nine parts:


By Shaziya Khan


Shaziya KhanA key attitude shift among both men and women is that women and girls should be financially savvy.  We have learnt that there are several barriers lurking deep that hold women back from being more involved in their own personal finances. We have also learnt that there is a big role for allyship that brands can fulfil – enabling a positive, progressive shift towards financial savviness.


To nudge things along, we need a small shift in perspective that can make a huge difference to the big picture.



I digress, momentarily, to illustrate the power of a small shift in perspective. It is not the ideal nor the parallel analogy but serves simply as a limited, illustrative example.  I was discussing swimming with people from across the world.  Learnt that swimming is regarded as an elite hobby in some places, while in other places swimming is regarded as a life or survival skill.


In places where it is considered a hobby, it is optional, an ‘on and off’ engagement. The training received is often absent (it was ‘picked up’), informal, even left incomplete in some areas.  People are skilled in a limited way, with untested proficiency levels. They are fine with it being so throughout life (eg. usually nothing more than light weekend or holiday swimming, floating, only in shallow pools, not swimming in the ocean or the deep).


In places where it is regarded as a life skill, swimming was generally taught early on, as part of the essential curriculum, by professional coaches, involving perfect technique, even children are accomplished at it. Certain levels of proficiency and mastery must be reached for the training to be considered complete. Often, it is put into practice on a fairly regular basis throughout life (eg. in the ocean, seasonally, including long distance or long time, having better quality or professional gear, comfort in water sports).


The shift in perspective, (hobby versus life skill), made a big difference to how the activity was engaged with. This shift in perspective applies to the notion of increasing financial savviness of women.



Data is quite sobering in revealing how financial savviness impacts women’s lives. The impact is broadly related to milestones and quality of relationships.


Milestones related impact: The impact of personal financial aspects on lives of women includes anecdotally relatable and worthy milestones such as:

• Security – enabling a secure financial life

• Goals – planning for and meeting key life goals

• Retirement – creating apt resources for retirement

• Lifestyle – supporting a certain type of lifestyle consistently across life stages

• Contingency – making provision for contingencies so that there is no drastic change to the quality of life


Apart from these milestones, there is also limited gender-related data on the quality of relationships in women’s lives being impacted by  their financial status.


Quality of relationships related impact:

• Among Property-less women (owning neither land nor house): many more experienced physical violence & psychological violence versus property owning women (owning land and house).

• Education and career are the biggest factors responsible for improvement in women’s lives and relationships. Both of these are closely related, in different degrees, to financial savviness.



The milestone and relationship impact of financial savviness (or lack of it), are well known. These alone are significant enough to spur much action and engagement. Yet, there remains so much to be done in this area.


A compelling shift in perspective is required here – one that frames financial savviness of women and girls as a life survival skill. This perspective brings into view several enabling elements via potential brand allyship eg. early education, expert training, overcoming barriers and fears, technical proficiency and above all regular life application across a range of financial products and services.


Financial savviness of women and girls ought not to be regarded as just a progressive shift in attitude, which it is, nor should it be regarded as just a ‘nice to have’ option, which also it is. It ought to be regarded as a life skill. Why? Financial savviness is one of the skills that can help women and girls to swim confidently in the currents of life – shallow, medium or deep.


Shaziya Khan is National Planning Director, Wunderman Thompson. She has won the Jay Chiat Grand Prix  for Strategy and Three WPP Atticus Global Awards for ‘Original Thinking in Marketing Communication’. Her views here are personal. 


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