MANILA, Philippines — What were you doing when you were 14 years old?
At this age, most kids are busy with school, sports and spending time with their friends.
Miguel Leechiu, a 9th grader at Southridge, is doing all that — and more. He’s investing in the stock market.
His dad David created an account at COL Financial two years ago. Then he taught Miguel how to manage it. Today, Miguel regularly checks his portfolio’s performance and even makes his own trades.
David is the country manager of Jones Lang Lasalle Leechiu, a property investment and management company. He learned to be a broker when he was just in college.
“We lost everything when I was growing up,” David recounts. It propelled him to work hard at a young age.
In 2003, David put up his own property firm, Leechiu & Associates. Then in 2008, his company merged with global leader Jones Lang La Salle to become one of the top real estate firms in the Philippines.
Now he wants to pass on the value of financial independence to Miguel and his five other children.
“I decided that as early as 10 years old, I help them get summer jobs,” David says. “And then as soon as they hit 12, they have to learn how to invest in the stock market.”
Start them young
Most of Miguel’s friends get their own allowances. But in the Leechiu household, things are quite different.
David’s kids don’t have a regular allowance. They bring baon to school. They also work part-time jobs during vacations. Whatever they earn, they set aside.
“When we receive money, we just spend half of it. And the rest go to savings,” Miguel says.
“What I tell them is ‘here’s ten thousand pesos,’ and it’s the only money they’re ever gonna get from me. And they can only touch it after college,” David adds.
David hopes that by then, all his kids will be responsible enough to handle the money well.
Right now, the plan seems off to a good start. Miguel, the eldest, already understands the concept of investment.
“[Dad] just told me, ‘Miguel, I’m gonna get you a stock account,’” he recalls. “At first I was a little hesitant. I was like, why do I have to do this, I’m so young. But he just said, ‘Basta, you’ll enjoy it.’”
Miguel attended a stock trading seminar at the COL headquarters with his brothers and some friends. “After that, I saw that it was actually a good way to make money,” he says. “I’d tell my other friends that it’s more efficient to earn money there than just rely on their allowance.”
David empowers his children further by encouraging them to do their stock homework. “The deal that I have with my kids is that they can only buy and sell whatever stock they like, for as long as they know and they explain to me why they are buying, selling the stocks. So I’m not gonna stop them, but they have to research and learn.”
A GOOD START. David teaches Miguel how to manage an online trading account. Photo by Krista Garcia
Miguel reads the business section of the paper, and also takes advantage of COL’s various resources to understand market concepts. “Sometimes, I read the research. There are suggestions there,” he says, referring to COL Financial’s “buy” and “sell” mechanism.
It’s not just Miguel — his younger brother Marco, who just turned 12, is learning to manage his own account as well.
“Kids nowadays are so smart. They just adapt to the programs that easily,” David marvels.
Beyond the value of money
Miguel understands why his father taught him to start investing this early.
“He’s showing us that it’s not easy to get money. That we have to go to work for it,” Miguel answers. “My friends are like, ‘Oh, I’ll get my money on this day.’ It’s that easy. They just wait.”
Miguel says he appreciates the lessons his dad is imparting. “Money’s pretty nice to have,” he says, laughing.
“It’s really trying to teach them the value of money and work,” David says. “The one thing I’m always trying to instill in them at a young age is that… for us, we’ve had a pretty good trend, but we could lose it one day. Like, the lifestyle I’m giving them is not going to be there forever. And they’re gonna have to start on their own when they finish school.”
Miguel now also knows how to make calculated decisions. “You learn that you have to be sure before you do it,” he says. “You learn how to take not-too-big risks and just know how much you have to bet on this one, in terms of money.”
Investing in values
When asked about what he wants to be when he gets older, Miguel just says, “Like him,” pointing to his dad with a grin.
What does Miguel admire about his dad? “Hard work, all the time, gets home pretty late. But I guess it’s all for us,” he says.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON. Miguel wants to grow up like his dad David. Photo by Krista Garcia
David says, “I just want them to be happy. And I guess, to be free.”
He recalls a conversation he had with his second son Marco, who has a penchant for the arts. Growing up, David also liked to draw, but his own parents didn’t have the money to buy him all the paper and pens that he needed.
“One day when you’re a parent, you’ll realize the joy of being able to provide for your family, and the pain, the sorrow of not being able to provide for your family,” David remembers telling his son. “So those are the things that I want them to realize as they grow older. And the sooner they start, the better."
Indeed, it’s never too early to get them started in the right things. — Rappler.com
Welcome to Rappler, a social news network where stories inspire community engagement and digitally fuelled actions for social change. Rappler comes from the root words "rap" (to discuss) + "ripple" (to make waves).