x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Equities should be a higher priority for women

Author Manisha Thakor's says her most important piece of advice is to start saving now, especially women, because they live an average of 11 years longer than men.

Manisha Thakor spent 15 years working in the financial industry before becoming a personal finance book author and speaker. She talks about creating the Women's Financial Literacy Initiative in the US, and pushing for women's economic empowerment globally.

What is the Women's Financial Literacy Initiative? It's the overarching umbrella under which I teach, write and speak about personal finance for women. I started it because I wanted to help women who I perceived as being "under-advised"; meaning they don't fall in the high-net-worth category, so a lot of financial institutions aren't focusing on them. The default language in the financial services industry is very male because most who work in the industry are men.

Share your most important piece of advice.To start saving now. If you're saving, by definition, you're living within your means. It's especially important for women, who still earn 77 cents on the male dollar, and because we live an average of 11 years longer than men.

How do you advocate global women's economic empowerment? I encourage women to think about personal finance as part of their daily self care, the same way they think about their health or taking care of their children, spouse and spirituality. Women historically have not been encouraged across a variety of cultures to think about money in this kind of ongoing, holistic way. On a collective basis, the rising income contribution of women in households in emerging markets such as China or India is enormous, so helping women best to understand those assets is what it's all about.

What are the first steps women should take if they have high net-worth, but low financial literacy? The first step is picking up a good personal finance book. I also ask women to pick a personal finance outlet online and start talking with a club; women often enjoy doing things in communities. Create a personal finance book club. The other thing is to check your current financial institution to see if they have any educational programmes. A lot of firms are offering lecture series, "Webinars" and sometimes free advisory sessions, where you can go in and get your basic questions answered.

Is advice for men different? I feel strongly that there's only one piece of advice that differs between women and men. That's on the asset allocation side, because women live longer and should have slightly higher percentage allocated to equities to offset the inflation risk of living longer. I also feel men and women are equally confused about personal finance because the financial landscape has become more complex over the past 30 years. There are so many more options across every financial product line, whether it be insurance, investments or even basic savings and chequeing accounts - but the education hasn't kept pace with it.

nparmar@thenational.ae