CTV Newsmakers Special Edition - Clip 1/3
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Investment 101; asset allocation - In part five of her series on investment 101, Sheryl Sutherland looks at how to choose an appropriate asset allocation for your age, risk profile and investment goals.
How to build an investment portfolio - In part 4 of her series on investing 101, Sheryl Sutherland looks at the principles of portfolio construction and asset allocation and how to move your financial plan forward.
Online Magazine Articles
Online Media Comments
plots applied to today's economy plus five favourites from the archives
including why nice girls finish last; income protection; and Janine
Starks on men, money, houses.
By Amanda Morrall | interest.co.nz | 20 November 2012
Lynch looks for signs of gender equality in the workforce and has
to squint to find them; instead she gets a five-point lesson in how
to avoid the usual money mistakes.
By Hannah Lynch | interest.co.nz | Tuesday, 7 July 2011
Further Media Comments
Wary women worth their weight in gold
By John McCrone | The Press | 2 August 2006
Women are from Venus and men are from Mars, apparently. So how does this planetary misalignment work out when it comes to investing money? John McCrone reports.
When a man gets lost driving, they say he will blunder on rather than stop to ask directions. Women will pull over and admit they need help. Some believe exactly the same is true of male and female investors. Men hate to ask the beginner's questions that would reveal they are not financial experts, while women may be under-confident, yet more likely to ask for, and act on, sound advice. Well, is there good evidence for this supposed male-female divide?
It is a difficult question, but an important one, according to investment professionals such as Christchurch's Sheryl Sutherland, author of Girls Just Want to Have Fund$, and Kim Kiyosaki, US author of Rich Woman – Because I Hate Being Told What To Do!. Ms Kiyosaki says a few statistics show why women need to take charge of their financial affairs. In the United States, 47 per cent of women over 50 are single or divorced. Even if married, women are likely to outlive their husbands by about a decade. And of the elderly living in poverty, three out of four are women. Ms Kiyosaki says women may now be in the workplace earning good salaries, but too many still feel intimidated by the maths and jargon of high finance. As a result, they are failing to take the next step and invest that money. Ms Sutherland points out that if women do have a different decision process, then it would be dangerous to force a generally male investment style on them. They could easily end up in the wrong investments. Ms Sutherland, who has been a financial planner since 1981 and founded Women's Financial Strategies to focus on female clients, says she definitely sees truth in the stereotypes. Men and women may well end up making similar decisions – after all, a good investment is a good investment – but they do it differently. Women often paint themselves as less confident, perhaps because of a maths anxiety or the idea that investing is difficult. Yet really it is only a fear of the unfamiliar Ms Sutherland says. "You get the half nervous, half embarrassed laugh and they say: `Oh, I'm no good with money, I don't understand it.'
"But I don't know any woman who isn't good with money. They can budget, they can shop at sales, they understand the value of a dollar. And if you're going to invest, all you really need to understand is the value of a dollar, and that's it," Ms Sutherland says. Women also seem to wake up to the need to invest later in life. "Forty is the age of reason for women. It is when you lift your head up and think: `Oh my God, the kids are getting older and have I organised my retirement yet?'
"You get the major life crises like divorce, illness in the family, or the realisation that the cloud of dust on the horizon was the white knight charging by rather than stopping to pick you up." Surveys then show that once they start to invest, women take much more time researching and are more disciplined in sticking to a plan, so tend to make fewer mistakes. They also have a lower tolerance for risk, they prefer to be ethical investors, and they are more likely to "nurture" an investment.
One study by University of California at Berkeley researcher Terrance Odean found that women beat men in the stockmarket simply because they were less likely to chop and change. Frequent trading is a fast way to lose money because when most people try to cash in on their gains, they end up swapping their best performing stocks for weaker ones. So women made a significant gain just by keeping their portfolio turnover down to 53 per cent each year compared to 77 per cent for men. Ms Sutherland said women needed more time to make their decisions. "You've got to be patient. With a guy you could probably turn around a financial plan within a month to six weeks. But often with a women it will take three months because she will go off and consult all her friends and her relations."
Others echo the view that women prefer to take their time, gather the information, then stick with their decisions. Carmel Fisher who founded the Auckland boutique fund manager, Fisher Funds, says it is likely to take five conversations rather than just two to sell a product to women. And they are less likely to go for new company floats, the latest stockmarket fads, and other more risky gambles. Alexandra Dalzell of Christchurch stockbroker Greenslades says women clients are more wary of losing money and also want to feel philosophically in tune with the companies they invest in. If they have had a bad experience as a customer, they are more likely to avoid even a "good buy" than a man. They also tend to be ethical investors, avoiding firms involved in tobacco or gambling, and favouring those with a community or ecological benefit. Ms Dalzell says the female keenness for research shows in the fact it is mostly women who form share clubs. Ms Kiyosaki says women are always prepared to shop around and seek consensus so are less prone to being rash.
One surprise, given the widely agreed upon differences in female investment psychology is the apparent lack of financial products and services that seem specifically targeted at women. Go into any toy shop and it is clear that pink is for girls. There are chick flicks and chick cars. But is the finance industry still too testosterone-driven to have focused on female customers? This may be changing. Last November, British "superwoman" fund manager Nicola Horlick launched Bramdiva, a female-friendly managed fund for self-made women. Ms Horlick says in Britain, women already own 48 per cent of the nation's personal wealth and this is predicted to rise to 60 per cent by 2025. Her chocolate and pink website shows very clearly how the image of the industry may change once more firms rethink their marketing.
One New Zealand product that some have mistaken for being tailored to women is Liontamer, a "capital protected" set of funds investing in riskier markets like China. Liontamer was set up by four women. And the locking in of the initial stake might be thought to be especially designed for risk-adverse female investors. However, managing director Laetitia Peterson says the aim was to appeal to conservative investors generally, such as those with less spare cash to play with or closer to retirement age. And Liontamer seems a fairly masculine name. So nothing girly there. But she admits that perhaps the fact that four women came together with a very similar investment philosophy, one hoping to mix growth with safety, may unwittingly be an example of a more feminine approach.
Of course, as Ms Sutherland points out, the gender difference is
more about finding the right decision process than about creating
woman specific products. WOMEN clients often say that they feel rushed
into things by male advisers. There is too much market jargon and
focus on technicalities. Ms Sutherland says women need a more holistic
approach. They want help with soft skills, such as how tactfully to
raise investment issues with their partners.
She says that when they meet a financial planner, most women will come across as more cautious than they really are. "One of my pet peeves is that if you do a risk profile for a woman who hasn't done any study or any reading, she'll come out as conservative or balanced. Most advisers will then say right, let's bung her into something like that. "Whereas what the client needs is education as to the cost of pursuing a very low risk investment."
Women normally spend many years out of the work force caring for children or aging parents. Or their earnings may be reduced by working part time. Given they will also likely live longer, Ms Sutherland says most women in fact usually need to be steered toward taking more risks than men in their investing, going for a greater proportion of equities in their portfolios. Ms Sutherland is still a rarity in the investment industry. More women are becoming financial planners all the time, but most would agree that the business still has a marked male flavour. Ms Kiyosaki suggests it is probably just a matter of cultural changes still working through the system. Women have made great strides in the workplace in the past 30 years. But it is only recently that they have moved from being serious earners to serious investors for their futures. But Ms Kiyosaki feels the picture might be different in another 10 years.
A wealth of tips for women
By Allan Wood | The Dominion Post | 4 October 2005
Packaging financial advice for women has paid off for Sheryl Sutherland. The consultant-cum-seminar speaker has now published a book, Girls just want to have FUND$, in which she summarises the advice she gives to her clients. Alan Wood reports.
An ever-widening network of women is zooming in on writer Sheryl Sutherland's wealth-creating tips. Ms Sutherland started flying solo in financial planning in a thoroughly male-dominated world.
But from being the sole woman at planners' conferences she has taken her understanding of women and money to become an advocate for a financial plan for life – an approach outlined in her book Girls just want to have FUND$.
"When I started working in financial strategy, it was considered to be a little odd – there weren't other women in the field," she says. "I used to stick out like a sore thumb in the conventions and seminars."
Only in the past decade have women made great inroads into the profession.
"Which is surprising because this business is all about relationships,
it is all about understanding and empathising with people, and (that
is what) women do best."
Though she may not be part of an old girls' network in Christchurch, Ms Sutherland certainly is part of a New Zealand-wide one that is now stretching overseas. Her book, launched last week, has already drawn requests from a cross-section of women's groups for her to appear as guest speaker. These include the women's branch of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of New Zealand, the Canterbury Women's Legal Association and educationists.
"It's obviously appealing to networks-type people," she says. "The Women's Resource Centres also want a chat."
Ms Sutherland's flirtatious title (more seriously subtitled Every Woman's Guide to Financial Independence) is something women having fun in the mid-80s will identify with. Cyndi Lauper's song was a starter to many a night out and encapsulated the girl-power attitude of that decade. "I think the title is great. Of course (Cyndi) was (an inspiration), I just love her music and how hard was it to put a `D' and a $ sign on the end?" she says. "You don't have fun if you don't have funds." The publisher added a Thelma and Louise-inspired cover photo of two women doing a high five from the front seat of a convertible – but with the beach instead of a cliff-face towering up before them.
Women's choices have broadened, Ms Sutherland says. The subject of women and money was the basis of her thesis, which examined the role of women in the economy during the 19th century. The book concentrates on the basics of financial empowerment, tackling issues such as women's fear of money or cultural imprinting that may result in a wealthy woman with millions of dollars stashed in cash – her "bag lady" syndrome, an example taken from an Oprah interview.
The book sums up Ms Sutherland's career to date – and includes
some of the material presented in seminars she has been giving since
earning degrees at the University of Otago and University of Waikato,
the latter in financial planning.
"I feel quite passionately that unless you understand your history and your background and what's going on in your mind, you can't move forward," she says.
She took two years to write the book in plain, easy-to-read English. It advocates strategies but with simple-to-fill-out financial inventories or worksheets and straightforward explanations of investment products, part of a how-to-do template. Ms Sutherland knows her audience. She was somewhat taken aback when a male colleague advised her against focusing on women only. "I remember one guy saying to me very severely: `Do you realise, Sheryl, you'll cut yourself out of 50 per cent of the market?' I'm thinking, `That's okay, I don't mind 100 per cent of 50 per cent of the market'."
Now her circle of friends – sometimes drawn from conference and seminar work – includes television news reader Suzy Aiken, businesswoman and writer Jenny Phillips and Carmel Fisher, of Fisher Funds. They have given great feedback, she says. The book was launched by another friend, employment law specialist Linda Penno. Ms Sutherland is amazed at how quickly the manuscript was picked up by Longacre Press, which has published it under the Shoal Bay imprint. An editor at the publishing house cut some of her favourite women's economic history, but Ms Sutherland is used to a critical audience. She started financial planning in 1981 and from the late 1980s has run her financial planning seminars for clients including government departments and educational institutions. It was tough starting out. "They were scary. I was just as scared as anyone else (would be). The first few I had to do sitting down, my knees wouldn't hold me up," she says.
Facing 200 people at a time, including "professional seminar-goers" and tyre-kickers, was another challenge. "One woman stood up and said she didn't understand why I was excluding men and I was sexist. I actually thought she was going to be lynched – it was actually quite funny." She was drawn to Christchurch from her Dunedin base by the prospect of a larger base of clients willing to pay on a commission or fee basis.
Financial planning is still a growth industry, led in the United States by such corporate giants as Citigroup's Women & Co, Oppenheimer & Co and American Express. There have been huge developments in the past five to eight years, and New Zealand has lagged behind, she says. "But that's okay – it gives people like me time to get locally positioned." To Ms Sutherland, the key to financial planning is listening to the client and coming up with a comfortable investment strategy aligned with a basic financial education. She notes that American investment guru Warren Buffett has used the term "deworsification" in relation to an unfocused strategy. Mr Buffett says: "Wide diversification is only required when investors do not understand what they are doing." Ms Sutherland adds: "If you haven't got your finances structured you can't get on with the rest of your life." She advises most clients to do a 12-month plan and to get together with their partner at least once a month to see how the plan is going. Also, income protection "is something women are just waking up to", she says. "My feeling is the reason we tend not to insure ourselves is because we undervalue what we produce and that obviously goes way, way back historically." Ms Sutherland has two more books planned. One with the working title Investment Gain Without the Tax Pain and subtitled Secrets for Tax-Smart Investing, which is planned for publication in the middle of next year. Her third book, to be called Money, Money, Money Ain't it Funny, will be based on the relatively new area of neuro-economics, which looks at neuro-science, economics, and psychology to study how people make choices. The book, to be published in 2007, is potentially also for an overseas audience.