Roxana Mohammadian-Molina, Chief Strategy Officer at Blend Network, has always been very vocal about the need to normalise the conversation around women investing. Here she shares her tips on how to normalise the conversation around investing.
The statistics around women’s wealth and investing are very dire. While we have a third of the world’s wealth under our control and are increasing our wealth faster than before—adding $5 trillion to the wealth pool globally every year—we still lag behind men when it comes to investing. Moreover, we remain largely underserved by the wealth management community.
According to a survey by YouGov, over half of women have never held an investment product. The worst part of it all? That we are missing out by not investing. To just give you a simple example, investors in our platform Blend Network are receiving 8-12% return p.a. by investing in property-secured loans. That means that if you invest £1,000 today, you could be earning an average of £100 pounds per year. £100 that you could be saving to invest again, or you could use to buy that pair of shoes you really wanted. Our opportunity cost, what we are missing out on by not investing, is too high and something must change. This is why it is so vital to normalise the conversation around women investing.
A gendered reluctance?
For many people, and for women especially, money is filled with emotional meaning. The presence of money can mean opportunity, security, status, acceptance and power. Its absence can mean the opposite. It also has emotional value: we see money as the means to protect our family and our children, to provide them with a future. No wonder it is such a loaded topic that we almost feel embarrassed to talk about it. Indeed, according to a recent report by Merrill Lynch Bank of America, 61% of women would rather talk about their own death than money. Others would rather talk about their weight. Of course, there are many reasons women are reluctant to talk about money and investing. The survey I mentioned shows that women feel less confident and knowledgeable about investments while other studies suggest that financial jargon is putting women off investing.
What can we do to help normalise the conversation around women investing?
I’d like to share with you five ways that I’ve found as women we can normalise the conversation around investing.
First, let’s address the elephant in the room and talk about it. It is only by talking proactively about the importance of independent investment that we can feel more comfortable about it. Ultimately, we will only be able to change the money game by disrupting societal expectations that talking about money is “unladylike” and “unattractive.” Money talks with friends and family are only awkward because they’re not the norm, and they’re only not the norm because — well, because our parents set that as the norm. Let’s change the narrative.
Second, let’s learn about it. As the old saying goes, knowledge is power, and when it comes to investing, being knowledgeable about how investing works will allow us to become more confident about investing. So, as women looking to normalise the conversation around investing, we need to familiarise ourselves with financial terminology, look for books, magazines and webinars which can help us understand the nitty-gritty of good investment and make us aware of the risks involved. But knowledge and information can also come from peers, which leads me to the next way we can normalise the conversation around investing.
Third, let’s have a peer group to exchange notes on investment. Just like for everything else in our life, we need to find our own tribe to talk money matters. We need to find like-minded friends who can give us informed advice on money and investment, share their experience and listen to ours. In a nutshell, we need to make talking about financial fitness fashionable.
Fourth, let’s have some money aside and a monthly budget. Call it safety net or call it, as I do, a SHTF account (“Shit Hit The Fan” account). This is our emergency fund, a safety blanket so to speak, in case we need to leave our job or a bad relationship or in case we have an accident and can’t work. This should cover six months of living expenses at least and should be kept highly liquid. Having a SHTF account and a regular budget, factoring in necessary spending and keeping track of impulse buying will allow us to save enough for our investments.
Fifth, let’s commit to milestone-based investments. This will help us stay focused about our investments and my conversations with many women show that we tend to have a more goal-focused attitude towards investing. For example, we invest to pay for our child’s school fees or to pay for our next holiday as a family or just to treat ourselves to that fabulous dress we really like. In other words, let’s find out what makes us tick and invest to achieve just that.