The Jakarta Post
As the nation readies to observe Kartini Day, no one can deny that women have now reached heights far above what they could have achieved decades ago.
As a national hero and champion of women's rights in the early 20th century, Raden Ajeng Kartini would be proud: Women in Indonesia can now pursue their education to the highest level, sit in the House of Representatives or lead a conglomerate.
What some women today lack, however, is a knowledge of investment products in the contemporary market.
Many still think that keeping money in savings means they have already made an investment, failing to realize that the value of money placed in savings might depreciate against inflation over time.
However, Samsul Hidayat, the director of trading and membership at the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX), said that managing money was nothing new for women, who were typically in control of family finances.
He cited surveys that said 70 percent of basic needs in households were met by women, 60 percent of purchasing decisions were in women's hands and 84 percent of women controlled their family's money.
'Nevertheless, only 30 percent know about financial management, including investment,' Samsul said at a recent discussion.
He fears that those ill-equipped to analyze investments might spend their money on consumer goods. 'It is important for women, and, of course, everyone, to understand about investing as early as possible because the future is unpredictable.'
He said that surveys had also showed women tended to live longer than men and were also involved more in taking care of children and parents, so it was important for women to prepare for their old age. 'Thus, women should also have investments to be financially independent.'
There were many choices, including real assets, such as property or gold, or financial assets, such as stocks, commodities, certificates of deposit or bonds.
'I guess only a few women ' although we don't have the exact number ' invest in the stock market because they don't really know how it works,' he said. 'But if you have the opportunity and the ability, it is time to invest in equities, because our market's performance is improving, the returns have been much better than several [other] countries.'
The Jakarta Composite Index has been the best performing among 13 indices in Asia, up 14.79 percent year-to-date, while the IDX books an average of Rp 6 trillion (US$525 million) in daily transactions.
The IDX is on target to book Rp 7 trillion in daily transactions by the end of this year.
Diza Larentie from HSBC wealth management solutions said that women should first know their financial profile and priorities before investing, such as how much money they want to invest and their goals.
She said that women should also understand the risks of investment so they could calculate everything in the beginning.
'Women usually look for a type of investment that is less dynamic and has lower risk because of their strong emotional influences,' Diza said.
A housewife who invests in the stock market, Meliza Musa Rusli, agreed, saying she initially looked for investments that could give her peace of mind so she would not have to worry about how big or small the returns would be.
Her husband, Meliza says, has a different strategy for playing the market. 'If there's a significant movement in an equity product, I will first dig deeper about what has happened with that stock before I decide whether I should buy the product or not. But my husband is different ' he will immediately buy it if the sentiment is good.'