Conversations with Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla, Jr.

Conversations with Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla, Jr.

Nov 19, 2014

I met Nesting together with his wife Tess in a gathering of the Trust Officers Association of the Philippines (TOAP), an organization as old as I am, where my husband once held the position of president. At the dinner table Tess and I got to talk a bit about, what else but, our children, a topic any mother is eager to discuss.

When I came up with this book project on the basic laws of money, I readily asked Nesting to be a part of it. I knew it was not going to be easy to get a schedule to shoot the reading and interview, as was the case with my other readers. But I guess my passion for this project made me persevere in asking these busy people to participate. As one financial advocate said when he saw the video clips of the first five readers, “Real Rock stars Retell!

I was very happy to be squeezed in the schedule of the deputy governor (with the help of another Tess, his assistant) – in between monetary board meetings, trip to the US to attend his daughter’s graduation at Harvard and the voluminous readings that I saw stacked on his desk and a lot more I got a peak at located in a walk-in-storage room. A deputy governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) must be a voracious reader in order to perform his job well.

This is the reason why I was thrilled to bits when this voracious reader gave me raving reviews about The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon after he read the book that I sent to his office.

Let’s watch this interview done in his office in the beautiful premises of the BSP. (Those who like hard wood furniture and beautiful paintings will be delighted to visit BSP.)

Click this link: Rose Fres Fausto interviews Nestor Espenilla, Jr.

Nesting interview 800x400

Excerpts from the interview follow:

What he thinks of the book:

The book is very fascinating. I was reading it late last night and Tess kept asking me, “What are you reading late at night?” I said, “I have a commitment to a friend to read this book. While I was leafing through the book, she kept looking at me all the time. Then I put it down to go to the bathroom. When I came back, she was already reading it herself! It’s that interesting.

What we both think is this: The book, in so few pages and in very simple terms, is able to deliver key messages about money. For example I find it refreshing and delightful how the concept of saving is presented. Rather than present it from the perspective of sacrifice and depriving yourself, it ingeniously presents it as giving to yourself, something you owe to yourself, no guilt at all, something you should be doing regularly. It’s a powerful concept to deliver, especially to young people who are just beginning to learn how to save and invest their money.

On his childhood money memory:

I’m the only son in the family with three olders sisters and one younger sister. We had daily allowance from our parents. I was careful in managing it such that I usually had surplus. By the end of the week I had money saved up. On the other hand, my sisters tended to max out their allowance and very often, I found myself acting as their banker. They would come to me and make bola and begged me to lend them money. So I did, and they paid back. I didn’t charge interest but they would become especially nice to me so that was like the interest. To me that was a good introduction to money management. I didn’t know that down the road I would get into this line of work, central banking.

Influences on his money management:

My dad had always been generous to me especially because I was the only boy and an honor student. Every time I did very well in school, I got something extra. My mom was the one who always reminded me to be thrifty because one cannot expect money to be always coming in. She said we should be ready when the time comes when nothing is coming in. She always reminded us to be responsible with money.

Now that I’m married, it’s my wife who is keener in managing family funds and I’m quite comfortable with that.

BSP initiatives on improving financial literacy:

We tend to focus on the “serious stuff,” making sure that the banking system is safe and sound. We’ve been asking people to save in banks. We realize that a lot of people get into trouble over-borrowing because they fail to save. Some even go to the informal sector, which charges even higher rates.

We are trying to make banking more inclusive. And as people use more financial services, the more they need proper education on how to use them.

Saving is more of an attitude:

Based on studies and observations, there are people who save even from the little that they earn. In our fieldwork visiting microfinance clients, a lot of them are saving money. The challenge for them is where to put the money that they set aside. There are no banks near their homes so they end up putting the money in alkansiya or under the bed or end up buying assets like farm animals. We’re trying to make financial facilities accessible to them.

Encouraging the habit of saving at a young age:

BSP encourages banks to make their services accessible to young savers by removing the minimum balance requirement. The response has been very good and a lot of banks have voluntarily opted in into this program.

Solving the poverty problem in the country:

It’s important to create opportunities for generating income and livelihood. But closely at the heels of this are the knowledge and the means to save some of the income for future use and investment. Even if you have good cashflow, if nothing is set aside, that’s a big concern. For our OFWs, they send their savings home to their beneficiaries, but if they’re not able to save this, but spent on the consumption of nonessentials, then that’s lost opportunity.

That’s why the simple lessons contained in your book should really be shared with a wide range of people. For kids, teenagers, young adults, the lessons contained here are very vivid. They continue to be valid. In terms of presenting the lessons, your approach of simplifying it makes it concrete, real and powerful. We should learn from this approach. We should try hard not to make it too technical and complicated. This one, you remember right away and you can relate with. Even if the setting is exotic, you can easily translate it to your own environment.

I was a very happy person not only because the BSP deputy governor was generous with his praises for the book, but because I was hopeful that the simplicity of the lessons would really make the book useful to everyone. As what the cover says, “It’s for kids from 1 to 92!”


Gift Idea: As we approach the frenzy of gift-giving during Christmas, I wish to suggest something that can help your godchildren and other gift recipients have a happy financial life. Here are several “pairings” that you can choose from, depending on your budget. If your budget is around 200 pesos, get a book (P150) plus a piggy bank or a plastic envelop with dividers where the recipient can put his/her savings. These envelopes range from P32.75 – P55.75. Piggy banks have a wide price range. If you’re generous to give aguinaldos in the high hundreds or thousands usually enclosed in red angpaos, please include this P150 book to remind your recipient not to spend everything but to Pay himself/herself first! There’s a personal record on page 35 that you can check the next time you see each other. Happy gift giving!

GIft Idea: Pairings to choose from to help your gift recipient have a happy financial life
Gift Idea: Pairings to choose from to help your gift recipient have a happy financial life


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