When Mark Jasson C. Ilao was younger, he delighted in teaching. Whether it’s with his friends and acquaintances from back when he was earning his degree in Management Engineering in Ateneo, or with public school students when he volunteered to teach on weekends, the act of sharing knowledge had been his passion from the beginning.

Even now, as he works as securities brokerage firm COL Financial Group, Inc.’s Business Development Officer, with a number of achievements under his belt, this passion never left him. He is a member of CFA Society Philippines and was named as the group’s “Most Promising Charterholder of the Year” last August. He also holds the right to use the Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement (CIPM) designation, another program under CFA Institute focusing on investment performance analysis.

CFA Institute is the global association of investment professionals that sets the standard for professional excellence, credentials, and ethical behavior. Mr. Ilao joined the ranks of CFA Charterholders, embodying their expertise and principles, all to drive his mission of educating Filipinos on the value of investing for their future.

“Here in COL, it’s an advocacy of ours to educate more people and personally, it’s what led me to this company,” he said in an interview with BusinessWorld.

“I also share that kind of vision to be able to educate investors and guide them properly. When I realized the importance of financial markets in investing, there was a question within me: how do I share this with more people? Thankfully, I was able to find a company that precisely shares that kind of value,” he added.

It had not always been easy though. Earlier in his career, Mr. Ilao worked as an investment analyst under BDO’s Trust and Investments Group, where many of his colleagues and clients shared his technical knowledge of the financial markets. Moving from a position where high-level discourse was commonplace to a more public-facing one, he had to learn how to translate his investment knowledge to something that retail clients could easily digest.

“In the case of retail clients, it’s different in a sense that you should go back to their objectives. That’s how I was able to adjust. Instead of giving them big terms or concepts that may be alien to them, we start with them, what their objectives are, what they want to achieve for their investment journey, and that’s how I establish dialogue with them,” Mr. Ilao said.

Mr. Ilao believes this is the key to making a lasting impact in the current state of the investment industry. According to recent data released by the Philippine Stock Exchange, less than one percent of Filipinos engage in the stock market. If more people were educated in the workings of the financial markets, Mr. Ilao said, the more favorable it would be for the industry and the society as a whole.

Teaching the public the significance of investing, debunking the myth that the stock market is only for the rich, and offering them the opportunity to learn and access various investments, he said, are the keys to financial inclusion.

“Once you have an educated population of investors, the level of discussion and discourse in the industry will hopefully become more mature, deeper, and I think that would lead to better investment decisions in general for the retail investors, the intermediaries, the institutions, and the financial professionals,” he said.

“Financial literacy, that’s something that we should still improve on going forward,” he ended. — Bjorn Biel M. Beltran