Allianz Guru Series by Henry Yang: What I love and hate about the Filipino mindset as an investor

The best investors would say that investing is 20% knowledge and 80% mindset. A huge part of our mindset is shaped by where and how we grew up and the culture that we were raised in. Let’s look back and explore typical Filipino culture to appreciate innate traits and values that will make us better investors but also identify self-defeating traps that we need to overcome and be wary of. 

“Mamaya na” and “Bahala na”

This tag-team of Filipino sayings falls under the Mañana attitude (also called “Hakuna Matata” in the Lion King). For the newer generations, the term #Procrastination and “Bahala na si Batman” may be more recognizable. In my younger days, I was even popularly known to say to my co-workers that I will outsource tasks to my future self.

The dark side of this attitude lies in its lack of preparation and ownership. There are a lot of reasons why we should prepare financially – we have financial needs that are unpredictable in timing and amount and we have financial needs that are still sure to come. By neglecting to prepare as early as we can, not only are we missing out on the power of compounding,  which will allow our money to get weaker. We are also practically leaving our finances vulnerable to chance. And in this world, there’s no Batman that will save us from financial distress.

To be free of care and worries, cultivate an attitude to properly prepare, plan, and execute your financial journey. A worry-free mindset can help you navigate today’s stressful and uncertain times. The key point there is that you have to earn this worry-free mindset by actually crafting a financial plan that makes sense, and not just by imagining all your financial needs away. If you’re not sure yet how to do that, one of the best starting points is by talking to someone who is already on that journey.


Chismis, or gossiping, is very prevalent in our country, and takes up so much of Filipinos’ time. It happens everywhere: in your neighborhood, your school, or your workplace. It is also called “blind items” in various types of media, passing on juicy stories via clickbait titles and utilizing the rumour mill. The narratives have a wide range, starting from the innocent (“next week may be declared as a holiday”) to downright dirty and salacious stories about top business executives, celebrities, or politicians. In Binalonan, Pangasinan, several disputes fueled by gossiping became so severe that a local law was imposed on the town which made chismis illegal.

For Filipino Investors, one way to get sucked into chismis, especially in the financial markets, is via Facebook groups that talk about trading, investing, or financial freedom. In these groups, it’s very easy to be sucked into the hype, especially with the allure of short-term profits. The meme trading in popular reddit groups like r/wallstreetbets and r/robinhood is a blown-up version of this. What isn’t highlighted but experienced on a day-to-day basis by traders and investors of various experience levels is that the risk of loss is always real. It’s the winners that are often celebrated and publicized because nobody really wants to hear about the traders that lost their money and decided to quit. (In reality, just like there can only be so many Michael Jordans and Muhammad Alis, only a small percentage of traders make money on a consistent basis)

From the chismis culture (and indirectly the now popular term “social trading”) I admire having a continuous source of information, especially timely ones with powerful narratives. The market is driven by expectations, and we can’t discount the power of stories especially if it’s turning out to be the most popular one that investors are using actual money to bet on. What I don’t like is basing your investment strategy mainly on rumors; it’s like being thrown out to the sea and pulled to wherever the waves are taking you. What we need to have is a ship anchored and built on basics and fundamentals.Key investing concepts to follow that are aligned ultimately to your financial goals may seem boring and old-school, but viewing each opportunity using a disciplined lens allows you to assess whether it’s worth joining the bandwagon or taking the road less travelled. 

Family first, Bayanihan, and Kabayan

In the Philippines, it is very common to live in a compound, a group of houses like a small village where each family living there are related. Families are close-knit, even up to extended and distant relatives that are hard to define in terms of consanguinity. I can’t even draw my family tree as it seems too complicated!  Given these close relationships in the Filipino family, providing financial support is something that’s not just encouraged but expected, sometimes to the point that the burden of providing for the family in times of sickness, retirement, or other financial trouble is passed on to the more successful family members.

I would say the that first two Filipino mindsets we discussed earlier are easier to address since the actions for improvement are within our control. In this family-centric Filipino culture, it’s the whole family that should adopt to change. My suggestion here is to learn as a family about financial literacy, as well as the range of choices and solutions that we have at our disposal.

Personally, I’ve been doing this for my family for the past 10 years (not without headaches), but it really depends on how open and interested one is to learning. It takes time to learn a craft such as knitting or baking – something that you can use as an example to make them understand. Be prepared that a lot of your family members will resist learning about financial planning and investing from scratch. My advice is to be a living example and eventually guide those who are willing to join you in your journey. 



IMPORTANT NOTICE: This document is for general information purposes only. It is not an investment advice and does not constitute any offer, or a solicitation to buy or sell any investment product. Further, any opinion stated by the author does not necessarily reflect the position of Allianz PNB Life.

Head of Investments

Henry is a graduate of University of the Philippines for Electrical Engineering - the first few years of his career are in building maintenance, electrical design and installations for construction projects and even teaching engineering to the next generation. Afterwards he took his Masters in Business Management also from UP Los Banos and worked at various investment-related roles from a top local bank, a US-based investment company and a global insurance competitor. He is also a CFA Charterholder. 

Currently, he is the Allianz PNB Life Head of Investments.