Saturday, August 14, 2021

The Future of Finance is Female !


One area I'm focused on is to make my program more diverse and gender-inclusive. But I can see how hard it is given that my program does not stint on numbers and it focuses on making hardcore financial decisions. Currently three-quarters of my student population is male and there is more room to expand by making the program more appealing to women.

To overcome this hurdle, I've been doing more pro-bono work focused on feminine finance to see how I can do better.

There are two very interesting projects coming up :

a) Podcast on Gendered Finance with MissFITFI

The recording for this segment is complete and MissFITFI's powerful army will spend the next few weeks heavily editing the material. I've been pushing for the idea of a serious discussion of women's issues in Finance but I can't seem to find a good platform to discuss this intelligently because of the "sausage problem" in the financial blogosphere. Most financial bloggers are guys.

Naturally, I wanted a more controversial discussion so I asked MissFITFI whether she wants to talk about whether specific forums for women on the topic of investing make any sense. In this case, I volunteered to take the more untenable position, so I tried to argue that financial forums specifically for women are not necessary and that forums that invite both men and women are good enough to assist women even for issues very specific to them. 

Regardless of whether I successfully defended that idea, I think all of us doing the podcast had a lot of fun. 

When the podcast comes out I will point you guys to it. 

Should be fun.

b) Presentation to a women's network for P&G

I'm taking this project super seriously because it's an alumni homecoming for me. I will be speaking for 45 minutes next week on the mechanics of Early Retirement.

I might be tooting my horn for my first company, but I dare to say that if there is a talented Type-A female graduate, P&G will go all out to recruit them into the organization. As expected P&G did not beat around the bush and they were very direct and even gave me examples of presentations that did not meet their standards in the past.

An amazingly some of the stuff that's revealed to me is pertinent to the podcast I have just done. I was telling MissFITFI that money forum's that exclusively cater to women would go overboard with emotional stories and narratives. These stories take up so much bandwidth, there's very little room for actionable items. Worse, to make meaningful financial decisions, a numerical discussion is often unavoidable.

As it turns out, if you are a commissioned salesperson and you choose to adopt more style at the expense of substance, some really smart women will bite you pretty hard and they won't let go. 

For my P&G talk, I made no attempts to retrofit my material specifically for women. I did the opposite and pitched it much higher level - at the MBA level if possible. From my experience, P&G women are not expecting to be saved - I am at best a Steve Trevor like personality in this story. 

So this is what I think I missed out on talking about in the MissFITFI podcast. A veritable truth in marketing is that packaging something for women can be very profitable. Some self-improvement guides can double the volumes sold simply by colouring the book pink and marketing it from a woman's angle. 

But if you take it too far, I think some people  (especially female FAs)  can be seen as insulting a woman's intelligence. A friend, after hearing my story, even remarked whether the financial talks need to pass a Bechdel Test.

Anyway, if I wanted to hijack a woman's emotions, it's not too hard. I helped out in divorce cases before, I can speak with authority about the ways some nasty men can hide their assets and make life difficult for ex-wives. Getting women to focus on their personal finances by displaying some of the worst traits of men is not taking the high road.  

I prefer to use facts - Women live longer than men, they probably pay more for annuities, so financial security and retirement is not a soft fuzzy matter to them. 

In fact, it can be way harsher given the salary gap they have in the workplace. 

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