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View life as a race, and you’re bound to feel left behind. There are always others who started earlier, started ahead, are natural runners, had longer legs, had better shoes – whatever the reason.

“Getting ahead” financially, though, is not about getting ahead of someone else. That’s not the point. It’s about getting to a better future position from wherever we’re at right now – making the most of our money situations through the best possible decisions.

That said, it’s easy to see how a bit of friendly competition can bring out the best in us – or at least give us a kick in the butt to make some meaningful headway. (I like to think I’m non-competitive, but that’s only when I’m not competing.)

The gender investing gap

Last week I had a brilliant conversation with the future: a talented, Millennial solicitor. As far as life’s race goes, she is way ahead of the pack (she’ll probably be your boss one day).

Yet she’s feeling left behind.

A number of factors have been proven to show why many women reach retirement worse off financially than men – the gender pay gap, working in lower-paid jobs, taking time out of paid work to have a family. Also, women tend to live longer so their money needs to stretch further.

Beyond these, there's another area that shows a gender gap: investing.

The lawyer I spoke with described how she’s been watching her male peers investing for some time. Perhaps they have not been particularly successful, attempting harebrained stunts like timing the market, trading often or speculating. But they’re in the game.

She’s been on the sidelines, unsure of where to start.

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Lionesses need to be in this hunt

Investing tendencies are easy to see. My 10-year-old son, for example, is far more interested in how you can own a share of the Coca-Cola company than his older sister, who just loves to drink the stuff (she’s also been working on her media empire, so I’m not that concerned yet).

Because of what we know about how compound interest supercharges wealth over time (when it’s on your side), the gender investing gap will end up making a lion’s share of difference. So lionesses need to be in this hunt, too.

The gender investing gap explains a lot of the wealth inequality. It’s not surprising, given that women are now reversing trends that have gone on for decades and even centuries. Like investing itself, it’s a long game.

There will be a new trend of women wildly succeeding with their investments, and there is evidence that they’ll be better at it than men. While generally men trade too often or overpay in fees, women tend to keep all their money in the bank and not invest in assets other than cash. In the future, when more of them start their investing journeys, they will be good at it.

This is the world I want my daughter to grow up in.

Start with KiwiSaver

I don’t mean to present KiwiSaver as a cure-all all the time, but it is certainly the beginning of a remedy for investment inequality. You see, investing was once the exclusive realm of middle-aged white men, but now it has expanded to anyone in KiwiSaver.

More women than ever are already investors because of KiwiSaver, with their money flowing into one or more managed funds (hope you didn’t think you were just saving).

If you’re sitting on the sidelines, start by tuning up your KiwiSaver settings. Invest as much as you can through your contributions, into a fund that you choose because it suits you best, and make sure it’s at the correct tax rate.

Then, when your KiwiSaver’s fine-tuned, look to invest beyond that by learning about what type of investor you are, what a typical investment mix might be for you, and what you can expect in terms of results. Sorted’s investor kickstarter can help.

The main hurdle to investing for women is just taking the leap over that first one: joining the race. It’s high time we dialled up our inner financial feminists.

 

 

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Comments (4)

  • Gravatar for Catherine
    Catherine

    3:16pm | 12 Jun 2018

    This article doesn't cover much, unfortunately. To add to the comment about Sharesies, Craigs Investment Partners have an investment fund called MyStart and it is open to everyone but they do run Women's Wealth seminars on occasion as their aim is to educate and encourage women from all walks of life to invest in their futures. Have a look at https://craigsip.com/personal-wealth/mystart

  • Gravatar for Deb
    Deb

    7:21am | 12 May 2018

    I’m enjoying Sharesies as a low cost way to try shares. I’ve been in it for about a year adding a few hundred at a time. I’m making similar money to what I have in my savings account but it’s a lot more fun. I’m a 52 year old single parent and have over 100k in retirement savings (pre KiwiSaver) and have paid off the mortgage. This is pretty much where I planned to be working hard for years. I also started a small business on top of my day job and I’m loving the rewards from that. But I see from the stats that I’m a bit of an outlier. While more women than men are in KiwiSaver that’s because men are more likely to be self employed and until recently couldn’t join. That gap is. Ow closing. Women have a lot less retirement savings and the gender pay gap is just a small part of that. Employment gaps are the biggie. Childcare costs are high in the country. And flexible work is hard to find if you don’t go back to work straight after parental leave. So low income women, who need to save, find it hard to afford work after having children.

  • Gravatar for whetuuhine
    whetuuhine

    9:58pm | 9 May 2018

    Yes, I thought there would be more suggestions about investing beyond Kiwisaver. Follow-up article please?

  • Gravatar for anonymous
    anonymous

    2:51pm | 9 May 2018

    Nice article. For me the hardest part about going beyond Kiwisaver is where to go next. Finding someone you trust for good advice (I would love to get a financial advisor) and what advice to take is scary.