How can we actively engage with the search for financial products?

Recently I had to buy a new laptop. Before I buy any electronics product, one of the things I rely on is an extensive search of my options and I am pretty pedantic about it. I look for a balance between product specification, value and look at reviews both from the experts and consumers. I enjoy the opportunity to hunt for my prey, so to speak, and finally get the right product.

Now this process, made me think of the personal financial products and services I choose. Have I ever searched so hard for the best bank account, savings account, or investment products? Have you? If I am lucky my laptop will last me for the next five years, yet I do not spare the same time to look into products/services that will last me a life time, something that will affect my wealth and standard of living. If we can afford one, we often trust this process to a financial adviser, but do we ever take the time to research the financial adviser or to understand their own biases?

One of the reasons we do not engage in an extensive search is fairly obvious, it is very difficult to compare many financial products directly. If I was to try to compare the various savings accounts at different banks, I would have to visit each website, wade through the consumer pages and then of course… what do you compare? The interest rate only? Unless I ask family and friends for their anecdotal feedback is there anywhere else to get information? Some things that are important to consider such as do they have online options, what is the the ease of use of signing up for the account, ease of use of the website, or app, customer service of the branch and call centre representatives, and most importantly the ease of closing the account. All these are important considerations that we often abdicate because of the difficulty associated with the process, and often times we simply choose not to engage with our finances in an active way. I will admit that I am guilty of simply choosing what is familiar and easiest, whether or not it is the most beneficial.

It is time we changed this paradigm for all consumers of personal finance products. Let’s simplify the process and share the financial product information that mattered to each of us. A simple rating system that scored the products and gave us a means of comparing the products. With such a tool next time choosing an investment, savings or retirement account, may be something I actually enjoy.

What are some of things that are important to you in a financial product? How do you go about your search for the right products?

This article was written by
Zviko Mudimu
Founder and Executive Director
AFI Network
Challenging Stereotypes is a new series of articles written to challenge our thinking around personal finances in the African context. The articles are written as part of a new initiative called Africa Financial Inclusion Network which is looking to expand the conversation around financial inclusion on the continent.
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Zviko Mudimu
Zviko has a Master’s in Financial Management from Drake University. He is a finance professional with over ten years of experience in local and international private and non-profit environments. He currently serves as the Managing Director of Operation HOPE South Africa, Director of Wealth Creators and Founder and Executive Director of AFIN