Most of my money management skills comes from my mother. Growing up in a middle-class joint family that had a modest income and more dependents than earners, money was rather limited to begin with.
Yet it was perhaps this exact situation that brought out the best of my mother’s management abilities. With a determination that I’ve almost always only seen in mothers, she had a focus to save for the education of her children, so that they can have a better life.
She recycled old things in imaginative ways to avoid spending on new purchases, most spends were done only after a cost-benefit analysis, and all expenses were tracked daily in her handwritten accounts “diary”.
My brothers and I always knew we didn’t have much - but somehow we always felt that we had enough, mainly thanks to her.
Back then, we barely realised the sacrifices she’d regularly make - limiting the amount she spent on herself or walking that extra mile to save on the bus ticket - so that she could either get us a chocolate or that new Backstreet Boys cassette (shoutout to all 90s kids :p) or new clothes for our birthdays, and so on.
And despite all this, she managed to save & diligently add each month a bit more. She’d invest some of this in gold, some in FDs, some in NSCs, and some as cash. In fact, her savings have helped our family get out of many financial jams over the years.
Some time back, after I’d been working in the financial markets for a few years, I had asked my mother why she didn’t invest some of her savings in stocks? If only she’d put it in Nifty or Sensex or stocks like Reliance/Infosys, the story would’ve been quite different.
Her answer was simple: “I didn’t know much about stocks then, but whatever I had heard/read it seemed risky. And I didn’t want to lose what had been painfully accumulated over the years.”
In my head, I instantly wanted to tell her that long-term stock investing isn’t that risky at all. But the very next second I realised that equity markets in her times was different indeed.
There was limited awareness and resources to learn, diversified investment options weren’t there then, and investing in single-stocks for a housewife like her (with limited resources & time), would’ve most likely resulted in losses on her invested savings.
Times have changed - there is a lot more awareness & education available freely today. Equity investments have also become safer & diversified in the form of mutual funds, ETFs, smallcases, etc. Thanks to technology, investing has also become a lot more accessible to the rich & poor alike.
Unfortunately, the equity markets still see little participation from the ladies - not just in India, but all across the globe. A Sep 2019 study
of Australian women highlighted that the top 3 issues women experience when it comes to equity investing are:
Fear of losing money: 48% women avoid investing in equities for this reason
Lack of trusted advice: Not knowing who to trust is another common issue, experienced by about 55% women
Lack of knowledge: About 50% stay away because the don’t know how to invest or how to get started
While these results are from Australia, I’d imagine that similar difficulties are also experienced by a large majority of Indian women. Societal pressures & expectations of various forms don’t help either.
Personally, I’d love to see this change drastically and quickly. If she had the right resources and investment options, my mother could’ve easily reached her saving/investment goals faster with equities. The child in me would’ve loved that for her - and the investment professional in me realises that it’s now possible for women like her to actually achieve that.
So dear ladies, what’s stopping you from investing in equities? Do you relate to any/all of the above reasons?
And if you managed to take the plunge, what gave you the push? How’s the your investment journey been so far? And do you have any advice insights for those who find themselves unable to take the plunge?
I’d love to hear your story and experiences, so do send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if, like me, you’re from Mars instead of Venus, how about you share today’s newsletter with a lady & do a small bit to bring more women to the equity markets? :)