Mostly middle-age, middle-income, married, male farmers who own land and make household decisions. The financially healthiest segment, they have more stable incomes and fewer expense struggles than average, given their strong planning. They confidently count on their communities for emergency support and to pursue opportunities. Over half save and nearly three quarters borrow. They trust banks but find financial services complex and prefer family, friends and informal groups. Many own smartphones but use is low, though many use social media.
own a smartphone
own a feature phone
own land personally
own land communally
Who are they?
"Compared to farming, the work at the hotel is easier.
I can even go to the others working there for money if I need."
SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS (SES)
Reliable Planners are mostly middle aged, married, male farmers who own land and have fairly little education. They are heavily rural and almost equally distributed across the socioeconomic class spectrum, slightly more Reliable Planners have moderately low SES, although most still have largely stable incomes. Although the men tend to be the heads of household, women are significantly more likely than average to be the sole authorities on household financial decisions.
Reliable Planners have strong, supportive social networks with whom they regularly speak and who assist them with their challenges, including including responding to emergencies.
These networks help provide stability and resilience, and can be counted on to contribute to Reliable Planners’ business endeavors
as well as the educational needs of their children.
NUMBER OF PEOPLE THAT CAN BE
DRAWN ON WHEN SICK
What do they want?
With much of Reliable Planners’ financial lives tied up directly in managing household finances, in their communities, as well as in their income-generating activities, they are looking for ways to securely, predictably build short and long-term reserves that are safe from household and community demands.
How do they manage their finances?
"If I hear a good suggestion, I am wide open. If it’s bad, I’m closed.
A good idea grows my earnings and my development."
Financial Behavior Overview
Although many Reliable Planners have volatile, agricultural based incomes, they prove effective at managing the challenge through careful planning. They are above the national average across all measures of financial behavior other than shaping income. They competently use their social financial networks to manage their household finances, maintaining dependable access to credit and financial support. However, they struggle at times to keep their savings safe from social claims and build robust reserves.
Like most in Myanmar, Reliable Planners share a strong preference for social financial tools that involve family and friends. They rarely use formal channels, and they report virtually no mobile wallet ownership, in spite of their significant smartphone access. They live farther than any other segment from a formal financial access point. Reliable Planners are careful planners who nevertheless perceive financial services to be complex. These factors, along with their low locus of control and high likelihood to be decision-makers, suggest that they are sensitive to any risk introduced by placing their finances beyond easy reach.
Reliable Planners devote windfall sums to formal bank savings more than any other segment. This is somewhat surprising in view of their minimal bank savings and low account ownership. They likely believe bank saving are only worth the effort when larger surplus sums are in play. Otherwise, they save money in their homes, where it is available to further seed their strong social networks, including family, friends, and groups.
HOW WINDFALL IS PRIORITIZED
MAKES AND PLAN AND FOLLOWS THROUGH
Reliable Planners are among the most competent, conscientious planners in Myanmar, ushering plans to completion with confidence and determination, likely leaning on the strength of their authority as household heads and sole decision-makers, as well as their experience and seniority in their families.
Shaping Income and Expenses
Most Reliable Planners report predictable, stable incomes, managing and meeting their expenses more successfully than any other segment. In fact, the rates at which they meeting expenses outpace their levels of income stability. This underscores their strong financial management capacity. Furthermore, they report experiencing fewer types of emergencies than any other segment, easing the challenge for Reliable Planners, and perhaps evidencing the quality of the social networks they rely on for resilience.
SAVINGS CHANNELS OVERALL
Just over half of Reliable Planners save, slightly below average for Myanmar, though three-fifths consider themselves very deliberate, , goal-oriented savers, second only to Community Entrepreneurs. They primarily save through family and informal groups. Most use just one channel for savings in a quarter. Almost half report never saving at all, while two-thirds of have not saved in the past three months. Nearly two-thirds feel they do not earn enough to save, and they are split in their beliefs around the safety of their savings from social claims. They may count on their social support networks as a reliable source of resilience, as well as their asset ownership as a source of reserve value.
Nearly three quarter of Reliable Planners borrow and at the leading rate among segments. Nearly two-thirds borrow at least once yearly, though only one in ten do so monthly are the least likely to do so monthly or more. They primarily borrow from family, informal groups, and friends. Many are farmers with strong asset bases who avoid debts that might risk their collateral. Perhaps for this reason, they tend to avoid formal credit channels and, instead prefer greater participation with group-based channels and with family. Their highly social strategies appear suited to their risk threshold. Though most consider themselves highly dependable, they are split on their comfort holding debt. Reliable Planners have primarily relied on their social network to raise funds to deal with frequent emergencies in the recent past. Moreover, nearly three-fifths are confident in the ability to raise such funds in the future. They are also highly confident that their community would support their investments in business endeavours and their children's school fees, demonstrating the robustness and trust they place in the social financial network.
SOURCES OF BORROWING
TECHNOLOGY USAGE FREQUENCY
Reliable Planners use technology infrequently and mobile phones at a below-average rate. They tend to be older, rural farmers, many with low to middle income, likely contributing to their low usage. While less than 5% use computers, visit websites or log into accounts, more than one-fifth of the segment reports using the internet and social media, perhaps suggesting a comfort with social media mobile apps as primary, if not sole, internet access.
How do they think?
"High risk comes with high rewards. I can grow a lot from it.
don’t fear loss enough to not take a chance."
Reliable Planners exhibit low confidence in their ability to influence the elements that impact their lives or to significantly improve their agency and abilities. They show little interest or appetite for trying new things that might lie at or beyond the limits of their present capacities and at which they might fail. Nevertheless, the fixedness of Reliable Planners’ sense of their present circumstances seems not to negatively impact their sense of self-worth. They have high self-esteem, and are content to believe that things will continue in the future more or less as they have.
Conscientiousness and Openness
Reliable Planners are disciplined and intentional, rarely engaging in impulsive spending that might threaten their stability, the goals for which they save, or their personal sense of dependability. Being so financially interconnected with their communities and families, their dependability is a crucial asset, and they hesitate to take on debts that could risk their asset bases and reliability. Those assets likely form the bulk of their reserves, as Reliable Planners feel they don’t have enough to save and worry that what they could save would be vulnerable to the requests of those around them.
Attitude Towards Savings
Reliable Planners are highly deliberate in their saving, yet do not believe they earn enough money to be able to save. Therefore they save less frequently and at lower levels, and when they can save, they tend to be very clear on whether or not those savings will be vulnerable to the requests of those around them. They might at times turn to bank savings to better accrue lump sums without worry that their network will spend down their savings before their savings goals have been reached.
Attitude Towards Debt
Reliable Planners are highly reliable, and they take great care to ensure that they continue to fulfill their commitments while safeguarding the assets that are critical to their livelihoods and stability. Such flexibility and safety is inherent in their preferred credit channels, family and informal groups, both of which are generally forgiving and understanding of hardships that they may themselves face.
Trust in People
Most Reliable Planners trust people in their communities, their social financial networks, and banks at rates above the national average and mostly higher than all other segments. Their social trust aligns with their borrowing and saving with both family and social financial networks. This trust may increase the difficulty for them of saving beyond their social networks, but the idea of saving in a bank has clear relevance to their deliberate savings strategies. About as many Reliable Planners believe their communities are mostly like them as believe their communities will readily support them with their businesses or their children’s school fees — half in each case.
TRUST IN PEOPLE
TRUST IN BANKS
Trust in Institutions
While Reliable Planners trust in banks is high, their use of them is low. They are typically the leaders in their households, yet cannot save at home without risk of social demands siphoning away what is accrued. Additionally, as farmers, their income cycles likely so not sync well either with higher savings frequencies or the frequent repayment schedules of most formal bank loans. Given their savings deliberateness, banks could serve their ability to achieve larger goals, as long as they felt like they had a large enough sums to deposit. Given their significant land and livestock ownership, these farmers might be interested in insurance products, or bank savings to add to their asset bases.
How might we create digital financial products that demystify and simplify services to resonate with conscientious Dependable Planners, who find financial services very complicated?
"Within my community of farmers, most of us face the same challenges. The monthly system of loan payments is a burden for us, and doesn’t match our livelihoods."
Dedan is a 47 year old lifelong farmer, and now also a security guard at a local hotel. With his work as a security guard, he has a bank account, and he manages his dual incomes with those of his wife and daughter to save for farm inputs, cover educational needs, and set aside something for their medical expenses.
Ecosystems, not Merely Products
It seems doubtful that Dedan would have begun taking MFI loans if the UNDP (United Nations Procurement Division) hadn’t arrived in his village to offer them locally and if many of his neighbors hadn’t also procured loans. Similarly, he might not have begun his bank savings if he hadn’t been hired to work regular shifts at a local hotel, if his preexisting social savings group had not disbanded, or if he didn’t have at least two other household members with regular incomes with whom he could plan and save. However manifold the social currents that increased his formal activity may be, his reasons for diminished bank savings are straightforward: he doesn’t have enough money right now to put in a bank.
Like most Reliable Planners, Dedan’s strategy for financial management is sophisticated in its social involvement. It includes family, neighbors, and colleagues and involves opening savings and investment opportunities, deepening resilience, cultivating credit networks and creating confidence in mutual support. If his reason for not making more robust use of formal channels is simple, it m may be because, by comparison to his social financial channels, banks seem more complicated and less usefully complex.
The Specifics of a Farmer's Loan
Dedan says, “I prefer paying back the principal and interest [on a bank loan] all at once, at the end of six months or one year. The period is longer so I have more time to save for it. It’s more convenient for my cash flow.” For Dedan, the most important term of a formal loan must be squared with his income cycle, livelihood, and ability to comfortably plan for expenses, both immediately and long term. If a bank is not sensitive to the local identity and ecosystem, it may, at the outset, alienate the community it intends to serve.
FSPs (Financial Service Providers) can, perhaps better capture business and signal that it understands the community’s economic cycles by tailoring savings and credit, as well as life, health, and asset insurance offerings to the planning strategies and preferences of the villages and cultures where they operate.