Roxana Mohammadian-Molina asks why money is still a taboo subject for many women and why it is important to openly discuss the M-word and to educate females about it.
According to recent research, over half of women have never owned any investments, and only one in five currently hold an investment.
In contrast, the proportion of men who have never invested is only one third, illustrating the old adage that women save and men invest. Yet the disparity is further concerning because, as the study shows, in principle women are open and keen to invest, with nearly one in two agreeing that investing money is a good idea.
Yet the study shows that lack of knowledge and confidence is keeping women from investing: only a quarter of women would feel confident investing some of their money, compared to nearly half of men who are twice as likely to believe in having good knowledge of investments.
Numerous other research and surveys show similar results: compared to men, women are less likely to talk about money, both making money and investing money. And while some men will cynically argue that women more than make up for it when they talk about spending money, it is important that we openly talk about this gender investment gap and try to dismantle the taboos that continue to be associated with the M-word.
According to a recent survey, 61% of women said they would rather discuss the details of their own death than money. ‘Don’t talk about money’ is probably one of the oldest and most engrained adages of social decorum – the somewhat anachronistic adjective ‘unladylike’ comes to mind.
Yet I think it is important that we dig deep and understand the reasons for our reluctance to talk about money because if we understand what is keeping us from discussing money-topics, then we can start to tackle those reasons. In psychology, understanding one’s phobia is the first step to overcoming it.
For many people, and for us women especially, money is filled with emotional meaning. The presence of money can mean opportunity, security, status, acceptance and power. Yet its absence can mean the opposite. It also has emotional value because we see money as the means to protect our family and our children and as the means to provide them with a future. No wonder it is such a loaded topic.
Some of the reasons that I often hear as to why we don’t like to discuss the M-word are: ‘I’m embarrassed that I make too much, maybe more than my friends’, ‘I was told it’s not polite to talk about money’ and ‘my husband has always handled that’. Yet the main reason why as women we need to be open and talk about money is that the cost of our silence is very high. Not only does our reluctance to talk about money mean that we earn less than our male counterparts for similar jobs, it also means that we are not exploring all the available investment opportunities to grow our wealth.
As money management and investing are still not part of the national curriculum, we should educate ourselves and spend time to understand the basics of financial management. Greater knowledge will lead to greater confidence, which will allow us to become less dependent on wealth managers and more independent when it comes to investing.
Learning sooner rather than later is important as money management skills last a lifetime. Seminars, books and podcasts are all good ideas. After all, being financially literal is a powerful thing. Yet I also strongly and passionately believe that looking at the next generation, we should advocate for the introduction of basic business skills and financial skills in our children from an early age, a sense of what things cost to buy, what things cost to sell, how you make money, how the basic dynamics of buying and selling and making money work.
The new The Smart Investress podcast about all things investing launched in July. If you are interested in investing, learning more about investments, always wanted to start a portfolio but were never sure where or how to get started and where to find great investment products, tune into The Smart Investress.
Every week, I am joined by successful investors and entrepreneurs. Together we delve into why we should all be investing part of our income, giving you practical investment tips and showing you how to get started on the investment ladder. But most importantly, you’ll have the chance to ask your own questions. To find out more, go to www.sovereignmagazine.co.uk/podcasts
Roxana Mohammadian-Molina is Chief Strategy Officer and Board Member at London-based P2P lending platform Blend Network and sits on the Board of Women in Finance 2020.