Overcoming Obstacles to Saving

Obstacle - Man Jumping Over Word on Arrow

We’ve all said it, “tomorrow I’ll get to that”, or “maybe next week or next month when I’m not so busy and have a little extra cash”, but time passes on by and we never get to that one thing we’ve been avoiding – saving for our retirement. Here are some of the obstacles to saving that we may identify with:

  • Procrastinating – delaying savings or putting savings off for another time. Check
  • Poor Spending Habits – includes spending on unnecessary items; impulse buying and self-indulgent lifestyles. Check
  • Culture of Dependency – Being overly dependent on others for everything. Check
  • Lack of financial literacy – spending on liabilities or items that decrease in value over time; not knowing how to make your money grow or work for you. Check

Here are some ways by which you can overcome these obstacles:

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Defence Force officers and youth campers learn about financial planning

In furtherance of its mandate for investor education, the Trinidad and Tobago Securities and Exchange Commission (TTSEC) conducted a number of financial/investor education sessions with the various formations of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (TTDF) and the vacation youth camps organised by the Ministry of Gender Youth and Child Development. These outreach sessions took place between June and August 2013.

The TTDF sessions were a collaborative effort with the National Financial Literacy Programme of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago and were conducted in June and July. Participants in these sessions, which numbered over 600, included officers at all ranks from the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment, Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard, Trinidad and Tobago Air Guard and Trinidad and Tobago Reserves. These sessions, conducted at bases in both Trinidad and Tobago, aimed to demystify financial concepts and terms so that the officers can be equipped with the tools that they need to understand and evaluate the risks and benefits of various financial products and to recognise, avoid and report illegal investment schemes. At one of the sessions, a female officer indicated that “in all my years in the TTDF, no one has ever come here to explain these terms to us and provide us with all this information.” The outreach programme culminated in the TTDF’s Financial Fair held in Chaguaramas on July 18.

In August, the TTSEC partnered with the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development to conduct financial education sessions at the Ministry’s youth vacation camps around Trinidad. This interface was conducted with the campers between the ages of 12 to 17 years. At these sessions, the youth completed Goal Cards which were used to underscore the link between personal goals and developing the financial capability to achieve them. Additional topics which were discussed were the importance of saving and tips for teens on managing their money in the real world. Camps which were visited by the TTSEC’s Education team were located at La Horquetta Regional Complex, Chaguanas South Secondary School and Ste. Madeleine Government Primary School.

The Trinidad and Tobago Securities and Exchange Commission (TTSEC) is aware that citizens must become financially literate in order to make more prudent financial decisions. Consequently, the Commission remains committed to employing existing and new strategies to educate and empower citizens to make wise financial choices.

About the TTSEC:

The TTSEC is governed by the Securities Act 2012 and is responsible for maintaining oversight of the securities market and for ensuring that fairness, equity and transparency remain common values in the market place. Our vision is to be an effective regulator of the capital market in which stakeholders have confidence. An integral part of our mandate for investor protection is the conduct of an Investor/Financial Education Programme which focuses on providing our target audiences with information on the rights and responsibilities of investors, a guide to making wise financial decisions, avoiding scams and other pertinent issues.


TTSEC hosts Investor Education Webinar







The Commission continues to educate and empower consumers of financial products and potential investors

“Great webinar! Thank you.”

“I would like to commend the TTSEC on this initiative of Investor Education via Webinars. I think it is an excellent idea and I look forward to future webinars.” 

“Dear TTSEC,

I applaud your initiative to educate current and potential investors. The information provided in this webinar was certainly useful, mildly entertaining and most importantly to the point. Well done.”

“Good day the webinar was very compact and informative. The speaker was engaging and not boring. However I did experience some technical difficulties such as static and loss of audio. I do hope to see further webinars and recorded sessions available to the public.”

These are some of the comments that the Corporate Communications, Education and Information Division received from members of the public after the TTSEC’s first Investor Education Webinar[i] which took place on Wednesday July 03. To raise awareness of this Webinar, the Commission used traditional media such as radio Ads in addition to new media platforms such as Facebook Ads, sponsored messages and emails.

This free Webinar, which was conducted via the Go To Meeting platform, introduced participants to the fundamentals of saving and investing, types of investment instruments, rights and responsibilities as an investor and mechanisms to protect oneself against fraudulent investment schemes. Our analysis of the webinar showed that approximately 100 persons participated in the Webinar with the greatest participation coming from the 25-34 age group. Another interesting aspect of the post-launch analysis is the fact that 64 % of the participants were women and the majority of the participants were from North Trinidad. The Commission intends to do all in its power to ensure that more men participate in these financial education sessions and that persons from all parts of Trinidad and Tobago are present and willing to participate.

We will conduct more Webinars in the future which will focus on (but are not limited to) Financial Tips for Teens,  Financial Tips for Young Adults, Money Management in the Middle Years and Retirement Planning. Topics, such as the the role of a broker and how to make that first investment will also be included in subsequent sessions.

This first Webinar was posted to the our website and can be viewed via the following link: http://www.ttsec.org.tt/investor_resources.php?mid=96




You Have a Right to Redress!

  1. ImageFind out about your right to redress. All investment products have an element of risk. You do not have recourse if your investment plummets in value. However, if you are dissatisfied with the service provided then you have a cause to complain. Ensure that you get the process for raising and resolving complaints in writing before you invest.

TTSEC commemorates World Consumer Rights Day – Consumer Justice Now


For the past three years, Consumers International (CI), the world federation of consumer groups, has been focusing its annual commemorations on the financial services sector. This is evidenced by the themes:

  • 2010 – “Our money, our rights”
  • 2011 – “Consumers for Fair Financial Services”
  • 2012 – “Our money, our rights: campaigning for real choice in financial services”

The theme for 2013 is Consumer Justice Now.

Over the years, the Trinidad and Tobago Securities and Exchange Commission (TTSEC), the national regulator for the securities market, has sought to heighten awareness of this international celebration by using its investor education programme to make the consumer more aware of his rights and responsibilities when accessing financial services.

Advances in technology and changing business practices have created many new challenges that did not apply when the Commission’s original legislation was first enacted in 1995 and came into force in 1997. As such, the Commission has spent the last few years revamping its existing legislation in order to enhance the protection of investors from unfair, improper or fraudulent practices; foster fair and efficient securities markets, reduce systemic risk and engender confidence in the securities industry in Trinidad and Tobago. This effort has resulted in the passage of the Securities Act (SA) in December 2012 which contains several improvements designed to protect consumers so that they can invest with confidence.

The new Act represents a decision of the Commission to move toward a more investor and disclosure-based standard as it relates to the investor’s decision-making ability.  The premise is one of full disclosure thereby allowing investors to make informed decisions. The SA 2012 also provides for a more proactive approach to regulation. It now extends the Commission’s oversight powers to the conduct of compliance reviews of the books, records and documents of registrants. Regular compliance reviews including both off-site monitoring and on-site inspections are a standard feature of regulatory systems worldwide and can assist in identifying issues before any contagion occurs.

This legislation solidifies the enforcement powers of the Commission by the creation of new offences and by increasing penalties for existing offences. For example, new offences have been introduced to deter non-compliance with disclosure standards. These include:

  • making a reporting issuer liable for a misrepresentation in financial statements;
  • making liable those directors and senior officers who are responsible for a reporting issuer’s failure to comply with disclosure obligations; and
  •  making auditors liable for misleading audit reports.

Effective securities legislation requires suitable penalties to deter inappropriate conduct that can harm investors, compromise the integrity of the market and ultimately prohibit its growth.  Under the new Act, penalties payable were raised and imprisonment terms were increased. The Commission also now has the ability to order the disgorgement of profits arising from the market misconduct or any other form of unjust enrichment. Administrative fines have been increased from a maximum of $50,000 to $500,000 and the maximum criminal penalty has increased from $200,000 and 2 years to $5,000,000 and 7 years.

A proper functioning system of insider reporting plays a critical role in regulating markets and in keeping investors informed. The 2012 Act repairs the deficiencies in the 1995 Act, in accordance with international best practice and thereby creates a more robust regime for monitoring insider reporting and insider trading.

The new Act also addresses civil liability and the rights of investors in the case of misrepresentations and other violations of the Act. A purchaser now has a right of action for damages, not only against the issuer but also against its directors, experts, promoters and other persons who sign certificates in a prospectus that contains misrepresentations.

The Commission’s ultimate goal through this legislation is to ensure a fair market by improved disclosure and to create and maintain a strong market that conforms to international standards and consequently, protects and attracts both domestic and international investors.

The Trinidad and Tobago Securities and Exchange Commission remains dedicated to the promotion of investor confidence, fairness and the orderly growth of the local capital market. This is primarily achieved through the ongoing development of a regulatory system that is geared toward ensuring a high degree of information dissemination and investor protection as well as building enforcement capacity to ensure the preservation of market integrity. We have been, and will continue to be, guided by a concern for the protection of investors and the maintenance of investor confidence.

The Securities Act 2012, enhanced to protect consumers so that they can Invest with Confidence

Understanding Your Investor Responsibilities

In our last post, we wrote about your rights as an investor. Remember, along with your rights, you also have responsibilities as an investor. Here are three key responsibilities you bear as investors which can help you protect your interests.

Check The Registration

The first thing to understand is that everyone in the securities marketplace  must register  and provide background information to the Commission. Therefore your first line of protection is ensuring that you are dealing with a registered issuer, security company, investment adviser or broker. They must meet specific criteria to register. Our website, http://www.ttsec.org.tt provides a comprehensive list of registrants.

Ask Questions 

Even though you may be dealing with registered persons yous hould still thoroughly evaluate the background of any financial professional and firm with whom  you intend to do business.s Not asking the relevant questions can result in huge losses for you in the securities marketplace.  Make sure your questions are answered to your satisfaction.

Know what you are investing in

It is in your best interest to compare information on similar products from different sources. You should also read documents thoroughly especially the fine print. Understand how the investment works as well as your risk.

How Does The Commission Protect Investors?

  • We ensure that market intermediaries who distribute securities or engage in securities transactions on behalf of others, are registered with the commission as indicated above.
  • We ensure that companies offering securities to the public provide or disclose certain information about their entities, the securities they are offering for sale and the risks of investing in those securities.
  • The Commission also conducts ongoing market surveillance  to ensure that registrants comply with the provisions of the law.
  • The Commission has enforcement powers under the Securities Industry Act, 1995 to deal with those who contravene the law.
  • We aim to ensure that investors are educated about capital markets, through outreach sessions, seminars and workshops, so that they can make informed investment choices.

Knowledge is power, know your rights and responsibilities!