Francisco J. Colayco: Filipino Financial Freedom Guru
We may constantly lament about not having money or not being able to save, but all of us are capable of handling our finances effectively, no matter how big or small our income. That is the message that Francisco J. Colayco wants to share with the Filipino people. He stresses the importance of putting away some of our income for savings instead of using it all up on unnecessary things. This he particularly addresses to Filipinos working abroad, since many make wrong financial decisions and end up spending their hard-earned money on unimportant things without being able to put away some for their future.
Colayco himself worked hard to get where he is. Even when he was younger, he already knew that he wanted to create opportunities for himself. After graduating from Ateneo de Manila with a degree in Economics, he immediately landed a job as a management trainee in Procter & Gamble. Already he had an eye to spot opportunities so that he ended up doing things that he wasn’t hired to do, finding better ways to do things. “I’d always look beyond what we were talking about. I’d say, what is it we want to accomplish? I’d always fall back on the essence, and I guess that carried through in everything that I want to do.”
For him, making money was not a conscious effort, but a result of trying to achieve other goals. “I was always trying to achieve things which more often than not resulted in some money or creating opportunities to make money as a result of that objective.”
After two years working at P&G, Colayco started to feel that while working in a structured environment was good, it was not exciting enough for him. He decided to take post graduate courses full time. Doing well in school, he started getting job offers even before he finished his MA in Business Management. “It was a good indication that somehow I was somewhat recognized,” he says.
His excellent performance in graduate school proved true as he continued to go beyond his job description in the positions he took after completing his studies. Recognizing his vision, his employers gave him a free hand in making decisions, showing a strong indication of their trust and belief that he could do all that he needed to do. Thus, Colayco was able to create opportunities not only for the company but also to fulfill his dream of travelling. “Of course I had to justify it. And the fact that I kept on doing it month after month, year after year, I think was because I was succeeding and I was proving that my trips were worth it for the company. I ended up with good results.” He certainly proved the worth of his vision, because by the age of 40, he was able to start his own business.
It was around five years ago when a new opportunity presented itself to Colayco. Already, he had seen how money can be made so quickly, and it can be lost just as quickly. One night, while listening to the radio, he heard an advertisement of a woman who called herself the super lady. “What she was selling was super candy, super everything. What she was actually doing was attracting listeners to join her franchise, to sell herbal products that she called super fruit, super candy. Her tone was very appealing to the masses, and I thought that this is what I should do. I want to reach out and touch people’s lives.”
So he went on to find out how he could go on radio, and found himself with a 15-minute daily slot on a station. It was a pro bono stint for him, but he simply wanted to share his belief. On the first session, he was introduced as an economist, but he quickly made a correction. “I’m not an economist. In fact, let’s take out the word economist; otherwise, let’s call each of us economists, because we are all responsible for our monetary and financial lives. You have to achieve a certain level of financial success, because we cannot share what we don’t have. That’s your first obligation.”
In less than a year, his 15-minute slot was extended to an hour-long program called “Usapang Kabuhayan” on the Radio Mindanao Network. People called in and Colayco answered questions regarding financial matters. He was amazed at the public’s interest on the subject, and he would talk about mundane day-to-day matters that people don’t usually talk about, affirming what his callers were doing or offering alternative ways of running their business.
Eventually, people in Hong Kong heard about it and suggested a simulcast. Colayco was later invited to come speak for OFWs in Hong Kong in November 2003, and he put together a handout for a paid seminar. “My belief was that it cannot be free; I don’t believe in giving freebies. You want to learn, you pay for it. Invest your time, invest some money; I cannot do it free. I’ll spend for my trip, the people, and spend my time doing it. I’m not supposed to make money, but I’m not supposed to lose either.” The seminar was a huge success, with 400 paying participants, and not one of them standing up to leave.
His next seminar was in February 2004, and by the third one, he decided to put his ideas together in a book. “Wealth Within Your Reach: Pera Mo, Palaguin Mo” was launched during the June-July 2004 seminar, where the first 400 copies were given away free as part of the seminar. Colayco was not sure if people would read what he wrote, but the book made a big splash, winning the Manila Critics Circle’s Book of the Year award in 2004. The success of his book drove him to write a second book, “Making Your Money Work.”
By that time, he had already established the Colayco Foundation, which was dedicated to his advocacy of touching people’s lives and share his belief that each of us is capable of taking care of our finances responsibly. “They deserve to know how to make financially profitable decisions in their lives, because everybody just loves to earn to spend, earn to use. Very few earn to keep.” Colayco doesn’t claim to be the expert, but only wishes to open people’s eyes so that they can plan their financial life. “In some instances I can help; in some, I can direct you to someone else who can help you better. You cannot rely on the government, on your parents, on cousins; you should be responsible for your own self.”
The Colayco Foundation has been conducting public and private seminars, as well as one-on-one sessions with those who are in real need. Pleasantly amazed at the accomplishments of the Foundation, Colayco is now trying to fine-tune the method of delivery of his advocacy. He is piloting a TV program, and planning a cyber network of delivery. “I am fixated with the idea of having as many people absorb the basic message; that’s why the foundation is growing. But we also realize that we cannot continue working on this advocacy unless there is some commercial benefit to the sponsors. They’re shelling out money; there has to be some commercial message for them. And that’s were trying to fine tune so we can continue the advocacy.”
The greatest “psychic income” that Colayco has gained from his personal project is hearing from people he has helped in the past. This has come to him in different degrees – from letters to emails to personal encounters. “Some of these we’ll put together in the episodes, to share with the general public.”
With this advocacy in mind, Colayco stresses that one’s mindset it the very first step to financial independence. First of all, we must set our minds to the task of taking the responsibility for our financial lives. “I really believe if your thinking process is right, well-directed, you can solve any problem and learn any subject matter. Of course there will be limitations; if you don’t have the mathematical aptitude, you can only achieve a certain level of expertise. But then how many really want to be Einstein, mathematically speaking? But the process of thinking, anyone can be Einstein. This is my philosophy.”
The second simplest thing that one can do is to follow what he calls the 80-20 rule, which states that we should use only 80% of our active earnings for our needs – the necessities in lives. The 20% should be put away in investments or “passive entrepreneurship,” where our money can earn passively. For wants, which we deserve from time to time, we can take only from the money earned from the 20%. This way, we are ensuring our future and the continuity of our financial independence.
These two points are the easiest and most basic things that we can do to take hold of our finances. This is the message that Colayco wants to share with us. “I’m not after the big economic solutions; I’m more concerned about the individual.” After all, before the bigger picture is complete, we have to start with the small things, with the individual.
Another inspiring story from a Filipino who is willing to share his knowledge regarding finance which makes it easier for us to understand those terms which are oftentimes we are afraid of. Kudos to Mr. Colayco for a job well done. You truly deserved to be a part of the famous Filipino Achievers.