Broker empowers women to take charge of finances

Program educates migrants from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh

Broker empowers women to take charge of finances


By Jayden Fennell

A Melbourne mortgage broker is on a mission to educate women about the importance of looking after their finances.

Resolve Finance Derrimut franchisee Niti Bhargava (pictured above) is originally from India and migrated to Australia 18 years ago. She told Australian Broker she has worked in banking and finance for over 10 years, including as a banker at Commonwealth Bank.

“During my career in the finance industry, I have seen an alarming gap in the knowledge of females lacking an understanding when it comes to their financial circumstances, especially those women who have relocated to Australia from countries in Southeast Asia,” Bhargava said.

“So, I decided three years ago when I started my own business that it was the perfect time to start giving back to my community.”

Bhargava said while working at CBA, she met some young women who were victims of domestic violence and learnt their stories of financial hardship, which really opened her eyes.

“I met many young women who were suffering from financial abuse who were working and earning money at the time, but they were not sure where their money was going. It is often part of Indian culture where the male takes care of the household finances, whether that be before, during, or after marriage,” she said.

“I have now encountered many women in my career who have left a marriage and relocated to Australia with next to no money in their bank accounts who need support and financial assistance with nowhere to turn. These women need empowerment and must get back on their feet somehow.”

Protecting women from financial abuse and encouraging banks to design their redesign their products accordingly is the subject of a new report called Designed to Disrupt from the Centre for Women’s Economic Safety.

Bhargava said she began conducting short financial education segments on radio (Radio Sanjhi Awaaz Melbourne) and TV (A1TV Entertainment) in both Punjabi and Hindi. She’s also an active member of  the social group Indian Women in Australia and conducts fortnightly sessions via social media.

“I want to make a difference, which is why I turned to social media to educate women through informative videos,” she said. “I discuss things such as how to operate online banking, demonstrate basic banking tools, how to manage a budget and plan for your financial future.” 

Bhargava said the program was specially designed for women who have migrated to Australia from countries in South Asia including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

“These women receive a very different financial education, so I see it as my role to encourage them to take charge and get themself educated and more involved with their financial decision making,” she said.

“My purpose is to help and connect the dots the best I can. It is rewarding knowing that I am helping so many people and ensuring they are better both mentally and financially. The feeling of empowerment is amazing and I encourage all women to take charge of their finances.”

In November, Bankwest reported financial abuse was on the rise in its annual Hidden Costs Report. This polled more than 1,000 West Australian adults with the goal of raising awareness of financial abuse “epidemic” affecting people in vulnerable circumstances across the state.

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