Ligwina Hananto: Strengthening Indonesia’s Middle Class!

IT has yet to be distributed widely throughout the nation, but it was already sold out. That is the book titled Untuk Indonesia yang Kuat: 100 Langkah untuk Tidak Miskin (For a Stronger Indonesia: 100 steps in order not to be poor) written by Ligwina Hananto. The book was published by Literati in collaboration with QM Publishing and elucidates the writer’s views and opinions on how to make Indonesia strong.

Ligwina said the book was inspired by Barack Obama’s speech at Des Moines on May 20, 2008 which she attended.

The speech was about empowerment and improvement of health and education by changing the financial structure of the United States. Although such things seemed impossible Obama emphasized both issues during his campaign for the United States presidential election. “That is what change is. That is the choice in this election,” said Obama as quoted by Ligwina.

Inspired by the speech as well as the documentary film titled By the People — The Election of Barack Obama, Ligwina is of the opinion that change can occur. “For Indonesia to progress one of the ways is to strengthen the middle class,” explained Ligwina.

She added that there is already an example, such as China, where a revolution that is not accompanied by a strong middle class will not create fundamental changes in the country.

Wina, as she is called by those close to her, said that the middle class is none other than those with permanent jobs, living quite comfortably but still working hard or struggling to maintain their lifestyle. “Maybe we are the middle class, so we can create a stronger Indonesia,” said Wina, who was born in Bandung on May 3, 1976.

There are many ways to improve the financial condition of the middle class, such as by managing personal finances, preparing pension funds and funds for children’s education.

All this and more is written in a clear, straightforward manner and also included is the check list of 100 steps that have to be taken for the middle class to be strong and thereby creating a strong country.

Wina is well versed in financial management because she is an independent finance planner and is currently CEO at QM Financial. Wina’s major aim is to create a strong middle class in Indonesia and to open up wide financial possibilities for the Indonesian public.

Indeed there are not many financial planners in Indonesia. Her job is to provide services in financial planning for individuals as well as companies. Actually it has not been easy for her to establish and run such a consultancy as it was not much in demand here.

All this started with Wina’s frustration about numerous families that do not have a five or 10 year financial plan and about the materialistic lifestyle that is irrational in spending earnings. “I used my own experience as an upper middle class with good income and yet no financial plan for the family’s future,” said the mother of two.

Most people tend to be materialistic rather than sparing some money for investment and old age plans. Wina found this to be quite challenging. “Because many people are not aware of the importance of preparation for old age and many are not yet willing to make preparations while they are in the productive age,” said Wina, who majored in finance and marketing from Curtin University of Technology, Australia.

After returning from Australia Wina worked for a bank and also for an advertising agency. Amid her busy schedule taking care of her household she had a brainwave to work on her own by becoming a financial planner.

To enhance her knowledge she joined a number of training sessions on financial planning and she also acquired her Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree from IPMI Business School, Jakarta.

Working as a financial planner in Indonesia is far from easy, especially getting clients. In the first three years she handled only a dozen or so clients that were recommended by her husband and cousin.

Initially when she started the business in 2003 she sent 100 text messages to offer her services and only a few replied while the rest mocked her. Finally she got one client, a friend, who until today is a loyal client of QM Financial.

Then in 2004 along with two friends from IPMI Business School the business became more formal although still without an office. In 2005 the consultancy was officially called Quantum Magna Financial. At the time they did not have many clients but kept up their spirits in running the business.

Determination and hard work soon brought results. The business which was first located in her house now has 400 clients with a consultancy fee of between Rp 7 million and Rp 70 million per year depending on the client’s active assets.

The company now also has dozens of financial planners. In 2006 QM Financial which was previously located at Widjojo Center moved its office to Menara Prima Megakuningan, Jakarta.

Wina explained that financial planning services are offered for one year and clients can either discontinue the services after one year or extend the contract. “Most of the clients extend the contract,” she said.

Recognizing that most of her clients are young people and also radio listeners, she prepared a program for radio broadcast.

Based on her data they were mostly listeners of Hard Rock FM so she offered the radio station a program on financial planning.

The radio program was a turning point in 2006 as clients emerged not only from Jakarta, but also from other cities in the country, such as Surabaya, Bandung, Pekanbaru, Riau and even as far as Papua.

Currently Wina has radio programs not only on Hard Rock FM but on a number of other radio stations as well. Ligwina invites the audience to start thinking about their financial plans for the next few years whether it be purchasing a house, children’s education funds or a pension or retirement plan.

Ligwina said her business was not meant merely to seek profits, because if that was the only aim she would have closed the company due to no profit in the first three years.

For her the most important thing is that Indonesian families strengthen their financial foundation and that funds also start going into the investment market so that it secures the families’ financial future as well as the domestic stock exchange. Wina added that during the 1998 financial crisis here the situation became worse because most foreigners withdrew their investments in the stock exchange.

Had the stock owners been local people the crisis would not have been so severe. “QM Financial is not only running its business to provide financial planning for its clients, but is also striving to educate the public on the importance of financial planning,” she said. (Burhan Abe)

The Jakarta Post, March 26, 2011’s-middle-class.html

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