By ABIRAMI DURAI
POPULAR Malaysian songstress Atilia Haron smiles impishly at financial guru Tee Sze Chiah before whispering dramatically: “Let me tell you a secret ah?”
Tee instantly perks up. His mouth gapes open and his eyes look like they’re about to burst out of their sockets – the man is clearly star struck.
Atilia says: “I got an F9 for my SPM Maths, okay … and it was Modern Maths, not Additional Maths, so that’s how bad I am at Maths.”
This hilarious scene marks the unconventional adventure that is in store for both Atilia and Tee, with the launch of Bursa Malaysia’s BursaMKTPLC CELEB.TRADR.
The initiative pairs eight celebrities with eight financial leaders on an eight-week journey (did you get all the auspicious eight references?) designed to help the celebrities become confident investors.
The best part? Each celebrity gets RM15,000 seed money AND they get to keep all their profits!
The eight celebrities involved in this educational programme include Atilia, actress Cheryl Samad, celebrity chef Nik Michael Imran, Red FM deejay JJ Fernandez, popular actress Siti Saleha, Chinese actor Henley Hii, actress Yasmin Hani and celebrity financial coach Nazril Nash.
The programme was set up primarily because very few young Malaysians are interested in investing in the stock market, opting instead to go down the tried-and-tested route of purchasing property or insurance plans.
But there is a larger issue here. Let’s face it: Trading is neither fun nor fashionable. So how do you go about transforming something that most young people associate with the words “boring” and “who cares”? You get celebrities onboard, of course!
Dato’ Tajuddin Atan, CEO of Bursa Malaysia, revealed that the reason celebrities were involved in the programme was because they were being tasked with becoming “new ambassadors for millennials”.
Hey, if Kim Kardashian can rock something as uninspiring as Spanx, then eight Malaysian celebrities can sure as heck sprinkle some makeover magic on trading.
But the journey of a thousand trades begins with a single step and for many young people and – as it turns out – young celebrities, step one involves overcoming the fear of the unknown.
“I was always interested in trading but never dared to do it because it’s like if you don’t know how to ride a bike, you don’t want to ride it in front of everyone else and have them laugh at you,” said Fernandez.
Which is why the way CELEB.TRADR is being run is as important as why it is being run.
While the celebrities will be guided every step of the way by their financial gurus, what is more pertinent is that they will be charting both the highs and lows of their progress on social media and bursamarketplace.com.
Making sure the information the celebrities share with their followers is easy-to-understand is crucial, because the idea is to give beginner-level investors useful tools on how to get started, which means complex financial jargon will have to converted to simple everyday language.
Cheryl understands the importance of this mission and has pledged to keep things simple, as she realises there is no point using fancy words that no one understands.
Atilia adds, “People will listen, probably because the content on our social media is not merepek. I have a feeling it will really, really work.”
For the industry leaders, who represent financial organisations like TA Futures, Malacca Securities, Maybank Investment Bank, Oriental Pacific Futures and CIMB Securities, CELEB.TRADR is an opportunity to truly engage with the young generation.
Yasmin Hani’s mentor Lee Cheng Hooi thinks this very unique campaign allows celebrities to share what they’ve learnt on media platforms that speak directly to the younger generation.
Tee agrees, noting that most remisiers in the business are over 40, so relating to the younger generation is integral to gaining their interest in trading and ensuring that there is continuity in the market.
“Not many young people invest because they don’t get the relevant content, so with the celebs sharing information on Twitter and Instagram, we can finally connect with the younger generation,” he said.
Eight weeks isn’t a very long time to dramatically change the mindsets of the young, but as Fernandez’s opinion leader Loui Low pointed out, “You have to start somewhere. Eight weeks is a starting point; not the end of the story.”
For many of the celebrities, the allure of CELEB.TRADR (aside from the admittedly enticing financial one) is the opportunity to educate and motivate young Malaysians to trade. And let’s be honest – this is a HUGE deal.
“I’m hoping to inspire other people to try. Most people are afraid to try because they don’t want to fail, but if they see someone else doing it, then maybe they will,” said Fernandez.
Perhaps the most uplifting words come from Nik, who has actually been trading since he was 18, and knows what he’s on about.
“I see a lot of kids my age spending money unwisely. So this is to inspire them and show them that there is another option for them.”
CELEB.TRADR runs until June 4. For more information, check out www.bursamarketplace.com.