If finance seems about as exciting to you as a relationship with Aidan, I’ve found one of the reasons why.
I had this insight while witnessing one of the beloved rituals of the investment industry: roadshows.
It goes like this: you have an investment product to sell. You want stockbrokers and financial advisers to sell it, so you go around town presenting to them. There is a PowerPoint that’s been through 20 versions. A slightly weary senior management team who has given the same spiel three times that day. And a group of finance people who vie to ask the smartest-sounding questions.
I’ve been at a couple of these briefings lately, and holy hell, what a sausage-fest they are. At the first one, there were no women in the audience. At the second one, there was just one among about a dozen men.
So, there are all these statistics about women’s lack of participation in investing. Women invest less, feel less confident about their decisions and often leave it to their partner (some good stats here).
And when I look at who’s running the show, I think ‘well, duh’.
What’s does ‘women’s investment’ look like?
I’m not sure, really. One of my inspirations, Sallie Krawcheck, is a serious boss-lady who has thought about it a lot. She used to be CEO at a giant finance company, and these days she runs a women’s investment firm called Ellevest. (It’s in the US, so I haven’t invested with them, but I totally would.)
Sallie has a lot of data and insights into why a female-focused investment firm needs to exist, which I won’t replicate here. Check out the website here. Broadly, we have different goals, income patterns and attitudes to money – so why not have our own approach to investment?
But nearly all women have worn men’s clothes before. Maybe you stole a perfect t-shirt from your husband, shopped in the men’s underwear section, bought a pair of Cons, or inherited your dad’s 1970s maroon tuxedo jacket and worn it out on the town (thanks dad!).
So you would know that just because something is designed with a man in mind, doesn’t mean it’s wrong for women. And investing is the same.
Sure, most investment products were created by a bunch of guys with a serious Excel spreadsheet addiction. And yeah, they are packaged up and sold by a bunch of guys in suits. And the language and marketing around them is created without women in mind.
Who cares? Invest anyway!
Let’s not wait for the finance industry to achieve gender diversity. I’m not sure it ever will. Instead, let’s take matters into our own hands. Here are three things you can do right now to take control of your finances and low-key smash the patriarchy.
- Educate yourself – Take time to understand the basics of money management, investing and financial lingo. This website is a good start (of course!) but there is also a wealth of information out there (pun intended). Start at www.moneysmart.gov.au, get to know The Barefoot Investor, head on over to www.financy.com.au, or just ask your smart, financially literate friends where they learnt about money.
- Make a plan – You don’t have to go and drop a few thousand on a financial planner. Set a SMART goal, map out a plan to get there and then allocate your funds accordingly. This is literally the basis of all financial planning, so if you can do this for your next goal, you’re streets ahead. (Some goal setting tips here)
- Dip your toe into investing – Not all investments need $50k in cold hard cash to get started. Microsaving apps like Raiz (formerly Acorns) can get you acquainted with investing on a small scale. You can buy an Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) for a few hundred dollars (learn more in my post here). If you love property but can’t afford your own place, you can buy a little bit with companies like BrickX (I haven’t invested with them so I’m not endorsing it, but you can always do your own research). The point is, you don’t need to be a baller in a suit, wearing a Rolex, to get started as an investor.
Remember: just because the finance industry is dragging its feet on gender diversity, you don’t have to miss out on making money. Take charge and take your seat at the table!