A vision for a stable financial future

In 1979 Harvard MBA grads conducted a study which demonstrated the impact writing a goal down on paper can have on the likelihood of achieving said goal in the long-term.

It was fascinating. When interviewed, graduates were asked if they had written clear goals for their future and a plan to achieve them. Eighty four per cent had no goals in mind, 13 per cent had goals but hadn't put them on paper, and only 3 per cent had written goals and put a plan down on paper.

"People talk a lot about the importance of setting goals in life, but many of us have never set clear, measurable goals for ourselves."
Vosawale Tamani, Head of Corporate Sustainability & Financial Inclusion, International and Institutional Banking at ANZ

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Ten years down the track, the same group of graduates was interviewed again. The results showed the 3 per cent who had written their goals down were earning on average 10 times as much as the remaining 97 per cent of the class combined.

People talk a lot about the importance of setting goals in life but many of us have never set clear, measurable goals for ourselves. In fact, even fewer people have written goals down on paper and put a plan in place to achieve them.

The Harvard study showed just how important this is – and it is not the only research demonstrating this.

While these results only use income as a measure of success, the study demonstrates setting goals is a fundamental component to achieving desired outcomes in the long-term.


Understanding the linkages between prioritising needs and wants and budgeting and achieving savings goals is important – particularly for people who haven't had access to formal financial services in the past.  

To bring this connection to life, and better demonstrate the outcomes of improved financial skills, confidence and knowledge, MoneyMinded – ANZ's adult financial literacy program – explores the concept of setting a goal or vision.

This is not just a nice way to start a session: as the research shows, it's actually crucial.

Each program participant creates their own vision board using the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timed) Goal principle – providing participants with a reference point as they progress through the program.

MoneyMinded was recently delivered for the first time in Laos and Cambodia, where participants set their vision using the SMART Goal principle.

ANZ has a vision for MoneyMinded which we have been working towards over the five years the program has been in place in Asia and the Pacific.

By working with Governments, regulators and community partners we aim to promote healthy communities and support the overall economic development of the Asia Pacific region.

One of the significant things we have learned is that despite the cultural differences and different stages of development of the diverse countries MoneyMinded is delivered in, the critical importance of having a clear, demonstrable vision remains.

Nednaly (Ned) Virravong is a Management Trainee, currently working in Research and Analysis at ANZ Laos. She recently took part in the MoneyMinded Facilitator training in Vientiane, and spoke to BlueNotes about her experience with the 'vision board' exercise.

VT: Can you tell me about your experience creating a vision board?

NV: This is my first time putting what I painted in my head into a Vision Board. The experience was thrilling, as my future is now a lot clearer, very visible and tangible. Not only did I have fun creating it, I started to reflect on the plans I have for future. It is one inspirational activity – I feel motivated. It makes me believe I can achieve my goal and that I am in control of my own future.

VT: How do you think the vision board activity will help participants of MoneyMinded in Laos?

NV: I think many of us have pictured our futures in our heads, but what is in our head seem to fade as we have so many things to think about. Now that I have made my future visible, I can talk to it every day and it becomes very promising. Vision Board will serve as a reminder of where, why, and who I want to be in the future. It will help ensure that I am right on track. I strongly believe that, this will help the community setting their path and giving them the initial push.

Vosawale Tamani is Head of Corporate Sustainability & Financial Inclusion, International and Institutional Banking at ANZ

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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