Women really do make great investors. Why? Because investing is about more than just math and numbers.
Women are becoming more and more deeply invested in their own financial success for many reasons: Careers are being pursued and marriage is being delayed, divorce rates are higher than ever, single-moms and women who are the sole or main breadwinner in the family are increasing, cost of living is rising steadily, job security is virtually non-existent…the list goes on. There are no guarantees in life and situations can change drastically in the blink of an eye. Independence and self-sufficiency are more than just words; they are a gateway to freedom. Women are no longer content or willing to be dependent on others for their quality of life.
A lot of the Myths about Money & Women floating around out there are simply false. Statistics show that women are blowing the stereotypes out of the water when it comes to money and investing: Women are MORE likely to join a retirement plan, women save on average 10% MORE than men, women actually spend LESS than men, and women are MORE likely to diversify their investment portfolio.
True power and independence happen not when you HAVE money, but when you know how to MAKE money.
Just ask any lottery winner or divorcee who has blown through a divorce settlement trying to sustain a champagne lifestyle on a beer budget! A lump-sum goes away pretty fast when there is nothing in place to replenish it. The first step is learning about Assets & Liabilities; the next step is doing something with that knowledge.
As Rich Woman Coach Nichole explains in a video Coaching Tip about Women and Investing on Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad website, there’s a lot more to successful investing than just numbers and calculations. The Rich Woman coaches identified their top 5 characteristics that make women great investors:
Let’s take a closer look at these strengths, how they each contribute and add up to a Great Investor Profile:
Asking for Help. Women typically know how to ask for help when they know they need it. And in my experience, more often than not, they prefer to ask other women. Have you noticed all the networks and clubs and resources that are geared towards supporting women in financial and business endeavors? The Daily Worth, WomenOwned.com, Ladies Who Launch, National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), My Wealth Spa to name a few. Many of these were created or developed just in this past decade.
Women seek and value mentors that can support and assist them in a non-intimidating, non-judgmental forum. Although men often view women’s lunchtime or evening gatherings as a sewing circle gossip session, women frequently use friends and colleagues as sounding boards for new ideas, thoughts and perspectives. Brainstorming and round-table sessions are becoming more and more mainstream, even in the ‘Old Boys Club’ organizations because there is strength and power in teams and in seeking outside opinions and help.
Planning. Most women become good planners by necessity. Often in addition to full-time employment or business ownership, women take on, or inherit by default, the monumental task of running the household, juggling kids activities, making and keeping family appointments, planning and organizing family vacations, meals, etc. It takes a lot of planning and organization to make sure everything runs smoothly from day to day and week to week.
Investing demands a similar kind of planning and organization to be efficient and get the most out of your capital. The ability to make and stick to short and long-term goals is important but having a system to monitor and track it all is priceless, especially when it comes to finance and investing.
Multitasking. Women are also known to be exceptional multitaskers. Handling several issues or tasks at once is all in a day’s work for most women. This translates well into the world of investing because there are always many different things going on in many different markets and across many different asset classes.
Women who are able to see various market factors and how they can affect an investment will be much more able to predict possible outcomes and proactively make adjustments as needed. Diversification is also easily appreciated and accepted by women who are more likely to hedge their bets as opposed to going for the glory in a single ‘Hail Mary’ home-run move.
Diligent Research. Women know how to do their homework. They are used to budgeting, comparing prices, finding the right pediatrician, school, camp, mechanic, gardener, insurance, etc. In finance and investing, this means that women know how to investigate and identify investments that will work best for them.
Investing involves a LOT of research. ‘Due Diligence’ is an investment term that refers to the process of verifying data presented, investigating the investment parameters and terms so that the investor can make an educated decision to purchase or decline. As a real estate investor, I screen and analyze literally hundreds of properties before finally deciding to offer in on one or two. Diligently investigating the investment and the people involved is a crucial step in protecting your investment funds up front and finding a good fit for your specific purposes.
Value Shopping. Warren Buffet once said, “Price is what you pay; value is what you get.” Women seem to intrinsically know how to stretch a budget and shop for bargains. They are aware of what’s available, what the going rates are and will go clear across town to get something at a discount. Women know that it makes sense to get a designer gown at half price if they are willing to find and sew on a couple of missing buttons.
Investing for value or value-add opportunity follows the same principles as shopping for any kind of bargain. You need to have a good idea of the general market value so that you have a benchmark to evaluate the investment you are looking to purchase and know when it’s priced below its true value, or when a few simple steps are all it takes to realize its potential (add value, like sewing on a button). Once you know what to look for, it gets easier to spot the gems.
Finance and investing may seem like a spider’s web of intricacy and detail but understanding the rules and knowing how to filter out the junk makes it a lot easier. Women have the skills and qualities to excel in the investment arena on their own terms. Women really do make great investors!
~ Eleanor Roosevelt ~
I’ve read and heard a lot about women and success lately, most recently in the form of a TED video by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. She talks about the lack of women in business leadership, and suggests that women could be making better headway in the corporate arena if they change some key behaviors and make a concerted effort to get in the game. I agree, but think it might go even deeper than that.
The statistics are staggering and still pretty pathetic when it comes to the number of women in power and leadership roles, in executive and corporate positions, salary discrepancies and the like. It’s easy to blame the ‘glass ceiling’ and the ‘old boys club’ but when it comes right down to it, it’s possible that we women might just be resisting our own corporate success.
Women should be shattering that ceiling and crashing those clubs. In fact, a post on Daily Worth cites a 2010 economic committee report which found that companies with women promoted to senior positions consistently outperform their competition. It goes on to highlight the proven success in the corporate arena of collaboration, team-building and mentoring, skills that women naturally tend to use and excel at. We should be leading the C-suite charge and taking the business world by storm. Instead, we seem to be consistently undermining our own efforts and thwarting our own potential success at every juncture.
Sandberg suggests that women tend to take themselves out of the game when it comes to business advancement and promotion. She notes some disturbing patterns and trends and then raises some great questions: Why don’t women pursue goals as actively as their male counterparts? Why do we tend to defer to spouses when it comes to domestic situations? Why do women often capitulate or back off in business settings? Are we being ‘too nice’?
There are probably as many reasons for it as there are women. After all, success is actually a very personal and subjective term. Being successful means different things to different people. However, one common denominator seems to be happiness in some form, and regardless of the amount of money you make or titles you earn or values you uphold, it’s pretty hard to be happy if you think that no one likes you!
Whether they choose to work inside or outside the home, women often seem to get the short end of the judgment stick, and unfortunately, we women are often the worst offenders when it comes to bashing our own. Have you ever commented on or criticized the ‘soccer moms’ and ‘helicopter moms’ for not being ambitious enough, or the ‘working moms’ for not being involved enough, or complained that the ‘bitchy boss’ needs to get…a life? Women need to support each other irrespective of priorities and choices instead of perpetuating negative and counterproductive stereotypes.
In business, successful men are typically seen as confident and assertive, whereas successful women are more often than not considered aggressive and cold-hearted. The stereotype of the ‘Bitchy Boss’ stubbornly persists and can be found all around us – it’s in movies, magazines, photos, story lines, even in our conversations. So why on earth would any girl or woman ever want to aspire to be ‘successful’ in business if it means being seen as cold and hard, shunned and resented by everyone around her?
Historically, success in the business world has also represented sacrifice, most often at the expense of family and relationships. As a woman, it is often considered selfish to actively pursue work-related goals, but ironically, men are seen as ‘go-getters’ and good providers. Gasp, what kind of woman/mother would ever put her work or self ahead of the needs of her family?! She might be successful but at what price?
Guilt can a pretty strong motivator, especially when it plays on our existing doubts or insecurities. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t experience a little self-doubt every now and then. People tend to put others down to feel good about themselves and to rationalize their own choices. It takes a very confident and self-assured woman to overcome that kind of guilt, ignore societal prejudice and judgment and feel secure in the knowledge that she is living according to her own values and priorities.
As Sandberg suggests, maybe women need to be more assertive in pursing promotions, more confident in their abilities and in presenting their ideas, more diligent about sharing domestic responsibilities. These are positive key behaviors that will serve us well no matter what we choose to do. Maybe as a society we should judge a little less and accept a little more.
But maybe the apparent lack of progress with women and corporate success is not really about insecurity or refusing to step up to the table. Maybe it’s a little more complicated than that. Maybe it’s about rejecting the notion that a powerful, successful business woman must, by definition, also be a bitch. Maybe it’s about an unwillingness to compromise priorities or to sacrifice family to fit some arbitrary definition of what it means to be successful. Maybe women DO want it all and are no longer willing to accept less.
Maybe, just maybe, women are collectively rejecting an antiquated industrial corporate model and are refusing to do business in the manner that its always been done. A recent analysis reports that the number of women-owned businesses has increased by 50% over the last decade and a half. Company size and revenues have not increased but maybe that’s by choice and design. Maybe it’s possible that progress via the corporate ladder has slowed because women have embraced the spirit of the Gen-Y Millennials and are actually in the process of redefining success and rewriting the rules to do business on our own terms.
Maybe women are realizing that we can have it all. It just might look and feel a little different than what our grandmothers, mothers, aunts or even we ever imagined!
One thing is for sure though – it’s a lot easier and faster to succeed if you are the one writing the rules. We do need strong, confident and capable women in corporate-level and Board positions. Not to increase statistics or reflect equal representation or even to just show ’em all that women are just as able as men. Women need to be an integral part of making the decisions and policies that shape the way business can be done and to redefine success.
Author Note: Check out the TED video by Sheryl Sandberg and share your comments to let us know what you think we can do to help redefine the rules and roles of women leaders.