Oi Yee was head of investment banking at UBS Singapore until early 2020, when she joined Singapore fintech iStox as its chief commercial officer. She has spoken passionately about how she makes it a point to talk to her daughters about the importance of financial planning—even though they have not begun earning money. Oi Yee’s own story is also interesting. She chose to take the leap from the banking sector into a startup, mainly because she felt strongly about being a part of a new wave of democratization in the financial sector brought about by advances in technology.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
I made plans to meet Oi Yee in the late afternoon at the office of iStox. Arriving early, I glanced around the open space office. It made me feel nostalgic for my startup days, seeing individuals spread out and sitting in front of their large, dual monitors. I felt a notable buzz of energy in the air.
Oi Yee strolls in and announces she’s brought along her young daughter, who is clutching a thick book. She jokes that her daughter can sit in the interview to learn a thing or two, and I welcome her to join us, but her daughter would rather read. Oi Yee has a kind demeanor and cracks jokes throughout the interview. But when she begins to talk about asset management, I can tell she’s a seasoned banker.
KrASIA (Kr): How was the concept of financial literacy introduced to you at a young age?
Oi Yee Choo (OYC): My father was a retail broker back in the day. At the dinner table, he would talk to my mother about work or the market, dropping information about contra trades and the like. We weren’t necessarily taught, but we absorbed the knowledge listening to him talk. I wasn’t actively thinking about managing finances when I was younger. I didn’t think about investing until I was married with kids and my career was at a stage where I was earning more. I had the capacity to set money aside. My daughters are older now, so we try to talk about money management during conversations. During your 20s, it’s about managing expenses. In your 30s, it’s about making the money work. Forty is when things really step up, such as having to pay for your children’s tertiary education and other big expenses.
Kr: What foundational pieces are you teaching your daughters about personal finance?
OYC: It’s less about personal finance and more about understanding simple concepts like profit and loss. We talk about rentals and stocks, but I try not to overdo it. I don’t want to overwhelm them with jargon. It’s not a systematic process. I do it more actively because I’m in finance. As a society, we could be more structured with financial education. These days, technology is disrupting traditional careers. It’s good to have a financial portfolio in case you’re out of a job. Asset management with our children gives them the flexibility to think about alternative career paths. Another piece of advice is that you have to understand finance to be in the fintech industry. Schools should actively teach financial concepts.
To continue reading this article, please hop on to Oasis.