Meet the #Girlboss Who Is Helping Women Invest Smarter
One of our major goals for 2016 was to start taking ownership of our finances. But breaking bad money habits and trying to save money is tougher than we originally thought — even with all the awesome millennial-focused finance podcasts we queued up in our iPhones.
B+C: In an interview with Forbes, you said, “This is my Gloria Steinem moment.” Why did you choose to create a women-only investment platform as your passion project?
SK: I never really considered myself much of a feminist until I left Wall Street. I did all the right things — such as put together gender-diverse teams — but feminism wasn’t deep in my bones. It wasn’t until I took some time off and had some space that I realized that the investing industry has been, frankly, “by men, for men” — and that has historically kept women from achieving their financial goals.
We all know money is power. And we women won’t be equal with men until we are financially equal with men. Given my background on Wall Street (and how very few women there are there), if I’m not going to work to fix this issue, who is? So I’ve made it my life’s mission to unleash women’s financial power and close the gender investing gap.
B+C: Can you explain the concept of the “investment gap?”
SK:Women don’t invest to the same extent that men do. Fewer of us have started saving for retirement, we have saved less overall and we park about 70 percent of our money in cash. This can cost us hundreds of thousands — for some of us, even millions — of dollars over the course of our lives. For some women, this can cost them more than the much-more-discussed gender pay gap.
B+C: Many women, including myself, haven’t seriously thought about investing their money. Why should the everygal consider getting into investing?
SK: Let’s take “Elle” as an example: Elle earns $85,000 a year currently. If she invests 20 percent of her salary in a diversified investment portfolio instead of keeping it in cash, in 40 years “Future Elle” may have a real reason to thank her. That’s because our calculations show that, based on historic markets, Future Elle could have anywhere between $565,000 to $2.1 million more money at that time than if “Today Elle” had kept that money in a savings account.*
You should invest because, quite frankly, investing can be life changing. That doesn’t mean that investing won’t involve some ups and downs (some of which can be stomach-lurchers!), but historically, the risks inherent in investing have resulted in superior returns, over time.
B+C: Why do you feel that women need their own investing platform? How does being gender-exclusive help bridge the gap?
SK: For years, I argued that women absolutely did not need their own investing platform. I thought the concept was vaguely insulting and, for whatever reason, I automatically equated the idea with a “junior varsity” offering. But the very fact that the gender investing gap exists is evidence that something different is needed.
Dig a little deeper, and you can note that the investing industry and most of its tools have been created by men, for men. So the “gender-neutral” investment industry implicitly has defaulted to men’s product preferences and men’s financial characteristics. (One big hint: The industry symbol is a bull — a phallic symbol if one ever existed.)
B+C: When many people think about investing, they picture a long and complicated process that only people with experience and/or education in the field should even attempt.
SK: We know! There are all kinds of myths that keep women from investing. One is that it’s all about math and guys are better at math. (Not true!) Another is that women need more financial education before they can become investors. Well, that’s pretty hard to argue with — almost everyone should be more financially literate. But men will often invest regardless (and have profited from it), while women are less likely to.
When you dig into this issue, it’s that men are more likely to invest through jargon, while women are more likely to slow down, research what the jargon means… and then not invest. That’s why we’ve outlawed investing jargon on our site and built an investing plan that you can complete in less than 30 minutes. Not 30 hours, 30 minutes.
B+C: Say you’re out for coffee with a 20-something woman who wants to start investing but has absolutely NO idea where to start. What advice would you give her?
1. Pay off all high-interest debt. That means if you can’t afford to buy something without putting it on your credit card, don’t buy it. Do not start investing until you do this.
2. Start an emergency fund. Your just-in-case fund should be three to six months of take-home pay, squirreled away in a bank account. Do not start investing until you have some cushion built in the event of an emergency.
3. Start a retirement account. This is particularly the case if your company offers a 401(k) match… in other words, free money.
4. Invest for your goals. Experts say to save or invest up to 20 percent of your salary for all your long-term goals including retirement, buying a home, starting a business and so on. Can’t do 20 percent? Then start with 1 percent, move it up to 2, then 3… you get the picture.
5. Invest regularly. That means something out of every paycheck, if you can. This may help to offset the ups and downs of investing. If you invest regularly, sometimes you’ll be investing when the market is expensive and sometimes when it’s cheap, but historically, it has evened itself out.
Are you investing a portion of your paycheck? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Ellevest and Getty)
*See 8 Myths That Hold Women Back From Investing. The projections of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results, and are not guarantees of future results. Information was obtained from third party sources, which we believe to be reliable but not guaranteed for accuracy or completeness. The information provided should not be relied upon as investment advice or recommendations, does not constitute a solicitation to buy or sell securities and should not be considered specific legal, investment or tax advice. The information provided does not take into account the specific objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any specific person. Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss in a declining market. There is no guarantee that any particular asset allocation or mix of funds will meet your investment objectives or provide you with a given level of income. Investing entails risk including the possible loss of principal and there is no assurance that the investment will provide positive performance over any period of time.
It can be intimidating to step out on your own and build a business from the ground up. As part of our collaboration with Office Depot, we're talking with Selfmade alum and solopreneur Colette Lawrence, the faith-based motivator and relationship builder behind The M.E.E. Movement, about ways in which women in business can find success.
B + C: How did you know M.E.E. Movement was your business to start?
The M.E.E Movement represents motivation, empowerment, and encouragement for women. It is what represents me. I did not know at first that it was my business to start, but then the thought of monetizing what I loved came to me. It scared me, however. I registered the business in July 2020 and have been slowly building my wings since.
B + C: What's one strategy that's helped you start your business?
Thinking through and researching what the requirements are to start my business, and then asking questions of people who are in the business. Not all advice worked; however, it helped me to figure out what I needed to do and not to do.
B + C: Did you always know life coaching would be your entrepreneurial path?
(Smiles) No, I did not. I 'stumbled" on it. I knew that people were always coming to me for advice and I found that I loved having conversations with them, especially with women, young and old.
B + C: What was your most valuable takeaway from Selfmade?
My most valuable takeaway was the first day of training: Get out of your own way. There were a lot of great moments and important takeaways from every presenter. However, getting out of my own way, pushing past doubts, was for me my most valuable takeaway. Doing something that I had never done before took courage. If I do not focus on what is happening with me mentally then I cannot deliver to my clients successfully.
B + C: What's one piece of advice you would give to female entrepreneurs on the brink of starting?
Get out of your head. You have something to offer. You have what you need to succeed so go ahead and do it.
B + C: How do you stay motivated?
I stay motivated by listening to music and listening to motivational speakers, and sometimes someone will just reach out and talk about the impact that I made in their life. That adds the extra juice or sauce I need to pummel through the day.
B + C: What's your best organizational tip?
Keep a diary and journal. It's the best way for me to keep organized and it also provides a source motivation as I record not only my "losses" but my wins as well.
B + C: Who inspires you in the entrepreneurial space?
Shirley Toliver – She motivates and empowers and makes me always want to show up.
B + C: What has receiving the Office Depot scholarship to Selfmade done to help you start or grow your business?
The scholarship was a blessing in that all the areas that were covered offered valuable information that I needed, from social media to HR. As a new business owner, I needed to know this to increase my own personal awareness in what it takes to run a successful business. The candidness of the presenters made it easy to see myself in their shoes and helped me to realize that I can also get there.
Want to feel motivated to take the next step for your business? Let Office Depot OfficeMax give you the confidence you need with a suite of business services & solutions to help you put your best foot forward. Make a good first impression with business cards & build the business pitch of your dreams with custom presentations. With Office Depot OfficeMax you'll find the tools to reach new customers with confidence.
Head to Office Depot's Selfmade page to check out even more amazing business resources (and discounts!) to help you accomplish more on your entrepreneurial journey. These offers are available for a limited time only, so be sure to take advantage of all this goodness while supplies last. Want to join the next Selfmade cohort this summer? Check out all of the scholarship details right here.