Entrepreneur Anna Haotanto: How To Be A Millionaire At 29

5 min read

Anna Haotanto of The New Savvy: how to become a millionaire

If, like Anna Haotanto, you want to make your first million by the time you’re 29, hold off on those Louboutins. 

This strategy makes sense on paper. But in the cold light of day hearing the word “budget” (at least for me) is equivalent to nails on a chalkboard. The instant satisfaction of purchasing a new pair of shoes (on sale) far outweighs the potential joy of maybe, possibly buying a house 11 years down the track.

Meet Anna Haotanto

Anna Haotanto (32), CEO of The New Savvy, is on a mission to save people like me (and my credit card), from myself. “Smart money management is empowering and is the key to independence, particularly for women.”

“But, what happened to living young and fancy free?” I asked.

“The better advice would be to save early, even if that means starting small. It is easier to begin with baby steps than drawing big chunks from future paychecks to catch up” she says.

She truly believes that financial literacy shouldn’t be the exclusive domain of the banker and wants to demystify sleep-inducing financial mumbo jumbo. “Financial institutions need to focus on catering for women and offer uncomplicated investments which are not overly risky and affordable” she explains.

Growing up in Singapore, Anna’s family struggled to make ends meet. She resolved to educate, save and invest wisely to make her own and her family’s financial security a reality.  “Having money means having the choice to seek a meaningful life” she explains.

Backed by a Bachelor in Finance, seven years in the banking sector and the cheekiest of twinkles in her eye, I’m willing to bet that this glamorous blue chip’s stock is on the rise. We chatted all things finance and why everyone is asking who her boyfriend is.

Anna Haotanto how to become a millionaire Iris Lillian
Anna Haotanto, Singapore

What is The New Savvy?

The New Savvy is an online platform which explores financial issues for women across Asia. We focus on a broad range of topics including investment instruments, how to open a securities account, which loan makes sense, the difference between a bond and a bond fund, that sort of thing. Also practical topics that are relevant to women like ‘what are 10 financial questions you should ask your date?’ and ‘how to measure your cost per wear of clothes?’

“I am uncomfortable when people throw ‘passion’ around as a reason to start a business.”

Have you ever committed financial infidelity against your boyfriend?

Ha! No. I manage my own money.

What advice would you give to someone who earns more than their partner?

Work as a team. Financial issues can be resolved faster when money isn’t a taboo topic, so talk to each other. Allocate the financial tasks and responsibilities evenly. When it comes to major financial decisions in the family, make a habit of consulting each other before deciding.

Did you ever doubt that The New Savvy would be a success? If so, how did you get past the doubts?

Yes, I still worry about this. But I focus on important things: how we can help more women to manage their finances and be more financially savvy.

Are the financial needs of women really that different from men?

Yes. Women live longer but we have less time to accumulate wealth. Women still earn less, on average, than men. Studies also suggest that, as women earn more we are still saving passively rather than managing our money strategically. But, when we do actively manage our money, women investors consistently outperform male investors. So, let’s do it!

That’s cool, why do you think women outperform men on average?

Generally, men have a stronger conviction that they can outperform the market. On the flip side, female investors tend to be more risk-averse and so develop a more diversified portfolio, shying away from high-risk investments. Women also tend to research and take more advice from financial advisors.

“Some told me not to be ‘naïve’ and ‘get a real job’.”

I’m really bad at budgeting, where should I start?

OK, first create a budget for the year, not just the month. Then aim to save at least 10 percent of your paycheck for a rainy day. For loans, try to make more than the minimum monthly payment.

In addition to curbing your daily coffee habit, cut back on big-ticket items: examine your major expenses like mortgage and rent, utilities, grocery bills and education fees.

Always remember to set aside a small portion of your budget for treats to motivate you to carry on.

Most importantly, if you have limited willpower when it comes to expensive leather goods or the like, minimise the use of your plastic cards.

How did your family, boyfriend etc respond to your decision to leave banking and become an entrepreneur?

Coming from a finance background with very decent earning power, it was difficult to give up reliable income and I faced a few challenges from my loved ones. Some told me not to be ‘naïve’ and ‘get a real job’. Many of them thought I was limiting myself by focusing only on women. This affected my morale.

Is passion enough to be a successful entrepreneur?

No. I am uncomfortable when people throw “passion” around as a reason to start a business. It is extremely hard work. 90% or more of new start-ups fail. When things get tough, and you are on the verge of failing, passion alone might not be enough.

It is more important is to combine your passion with a systematic process to ensure that your idea is executed well. You also need a little luck.

“How to become a millionaire?”

What would be something you would change about Singaporean culture if you could?

I feel that we Asians have to learn to embrace failure more. There is still a stigma to failure here, and maybe, that’s stopping people from stepping out.

How would your best friend describe you?

Resilient and a little crazy.

How would you describe your personal style?

It’s feminine with an edge, but always fluid. Some days I want to dress up, others I opt for an easy ‘grab-and-go’ style.

What are your go-to fashion brands?

Zara, & Other Stories, Valentino and Louboutin.

Do you find it hard to save or are you a budgeting queen? Share your tips in the comments below and click here to ask the coolest business women and female entrepreneurs how they manage their cashola.

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Anna Haotanto of The New Savvy: how to become a millionaire

Photo credit: thenewsavvy.com

  1. Debra says

    Great interview! I am good at saving, in fact I find spending hard.

    1. Iris Lillian says

      You’re lucky Debra. I wish I was like that 😉 Do you wish you were a little better at spending?

  2. Nooree Moola says

    Loved reading this interview Liss! I hadn’t thought about the fact that women live longer and have less time to accumulate wealth, whilst on average, they earn less. That could give rise to a massive lack of empowerment particularly in a woman’s later years, as she nears retirement but can’t do it on her own. Interesting food for thought. Anna is doing a great job, dedicating her time to empowering women from an early stage! Xx

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