Women & Money with Fidelity International

Broadminded hosted a Women and Money event with Fidelity International, at their London head office. Fidelity’s Investment Director, Maike Currie, lead the talk. Maike presented the findings from Fidelity’s Women & Money report, explained why you need to invest and how and why pensions are more important than we think.

 

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Here are the main points we covered:

  1. “Investing is for men”  we need to challenge societies gender norms and our own habits to start investing.
  2. Stereotypes of female investors – we struggle with the concept of “the female bread-winner”, often assuming this something negative e.g. due to a failed relationship, but in reality 1/4 of women in heterosexual partnerships in the US are breadwinners. 
  3. Barriers to female investment  – we suffer from personal, profession and policy barriers. This includes too often discussed gender pay gap as well as gender pension gap, motherhood penalty, fertility penalty and care of the elderly. Because of these barriers, women not only earn less than men but are also more likely to see their money as needed for others – children, partners, parents – and generally being less inclined to take risks.
  4. Overcome the above barriers – by investing! Despite the fact that we have less money, we’re the bigger savers! So we have money to put to work. In order to close the gender pension gap (particularly with more women living to 100) we need to start investing. Finance is a feminist topic.
  5. Being risk-averse makes us better investors – Studies suggest that women make better investors because of our greater propensity to look to the long term, consider our investments more and then leave them. Men are more likely to do more short-term trading, which often eats at long term returns. Our propensity to be more risk-averse makes us good investors. Set and forget.
  6. Reasons to invest – to buy something (growth), to stop working (income), to not be a burden (capital preservation)
  7. How to invest – depends on your goals. Equity (higher risk), bonds (less risk), cash (low risk, but zero return) – if you’re young (under 40) go for the higher risk option to see growth. Invest in no more than 10 funds, set your goals (when you want to retire/when you want the money), Warren Buffet rule = don’t invest in anything you don’t fully understand.
  8. Pensions – are far more important and valuable than we often give credit. Employer + government contributions = free money! Find out how much you have, consolidate them into one account (if you have more that one), log in online and see if you can increase your contributions. Target = save 13% of your salary.
  9. Self Employed? Start a private pension – the younger you start, the better. You can still save even if you’re not working. Don’t rely on the state pension – you need to have 35 years of NI contributions to get the full state pension, and if you’re entitled to child benefit, fill in the form (even if you don’t need to claim) as it gives you NI credits towards your state pension. 
  10. Remote work/sabbaticals – will have an impact on your earnings (like maternity leave). Minimise the long term impact by continuing contributions. With more people working remotely employee packages are getting more competitive, ask about pensions and flexible working options.
  11. Where to get advice – The Fidelity website is a great resource with many tools .e.g daily insights, visit the Fidelity Walk-In Investment centre (opposite Cannon Street Station), download the Fidelity app, listen to the Fidelity Women and Money Podcast, www.unbiased.co.uk for Financial Advisors (beware of high fees!)
  12. Ethical Investments – The old school of thought is that you sacrifice by investing in an ethical way. However, companies that are more sustainable in their approach are lasting longer and yielding better performance in the long term. There are lots of sustainable investment options that have delivered great returns.
  13. Fees – as a benchmark Fidelity has a 0.35% service fee, and then expect to pay for fund fees alongside. Watch out for performance fees which are added to management fees.
  14. Index funds – Index funds are available at very low fees, but be aware that by nature they simply track the market. Active funds charge higher fees, due to the teams of experts selecting investments and managing the fund.
  15. Gold – more women are investing in gold. It retains its value but has specific, costly requirements e.g. storage to maintain its value. There are also funds that do that via active management e.g. invest in gold mining companies. Gold can be a good source of diversification.
  16. Career advice – don’t allow your finances to rely solely on promotions and climbing the ladder. Alongside, you can take things into your hands by investing, and providing a new source of wealth for yourself. Contributing just £35/month (1% of the average salary) would close the gender pay gap. Investing is an investment in yourself. 

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Balancing kids and your career as a parental team

In February 2019 we held a discussion with @womonetwork around managing motherhood and a career. The resounding conclusion was we need men to be involved in the conversation in order to feel a real change, So we decided to get host an event, getting men involved in the conversation.

We were joined for a frank discussion and practical advice from two couples who have successfully found a balance. Timewise Power 50 award winner Trevor Greetham works four days a week to spend more time with his children; his wife Alice is an author and teacher. They were joined by Cat and Henry Hoare, both in asset management, who shared parental leave for their two sons (read more about their experience in this blog post).

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We were so pleased to have such an honest and engaged group, with many insights to take away on the many facets and challenges of finding a parental balance.

Here are the key takeaways that we noted:

1) We might be motivated by different things in the pursuit of a different balance. Some people may have had parents around as children, others not. But it is a decision as a couple to be brave and find your own way.

2) Only 1% of those eligible are taking up shared parental leave. It requires two companies to have supportive policies, which doesn’t always work in practice. Enhanced parental leave may help in the future.

3) There is likely to be a financial impact, but that is likely worthwhile for a better balance at home and work. For many that will outweigh the financial hit.

4) The big fear for men and women is the same – am I messing up my career path by taking time out? For most, the answer is no. But this is a concept that women have always grappled with and men need to get used to. You have to be determined and push through the perceived challenges.

5) You will face unconscious biases in the office and at the school gates. Men and women react in different ways, but there is often a sense that a father is just doing ‘daddy daycare’ and holding the fort rather than the female equivalent.

6) It is not always easy, and can be hard to say ‘see you Monday’ when you leave the office on a Thursday evening, or ‘have a good evening’ at 5 pm – especially when you are boss of the team. You’ll probably end up working harder especially in the evenings. But you’ll also be more efficient!

7) Guilt, both maternal and paternal, is much easier to handle if you know your child is in good hands with your partner for a period of time or some of the time. But there will still be guilt at the handover stage – it’s hard to not be the most wanted or needed.

8) A more even balance with children will make you more efficient. You both have the same level of knowledge and it prevents one parent (usually the woman) from carrying the emotional load. It also means quick decisions!

9) Things are changing. Flexible working, better parental leave policies and more men taking them up and setting an example all contribute. But that can be tempered by a culture of ‘always on’ and presenteeism.

10) Read the Idle Parent for great tips on what to not do. For example, don’t join any school PTA groups!

11) We are conditioned to putting family first, then relationship, then self. We should reverse that and look after ourselves and as a couple. Make time for the two of you. Happy parents, happy kids!

12) It will take time to find your balance. It doesn’t mean you have to share all responsibilities equally – you will each have strengths and settle into different roles.

13) If you can, try and have some overlapping time together. It will be precious and really helps the balance.

14) You have the right to request to work flexibly, kids or not. Jobs that are open to part-time and flexible working are getting more popular, and are increasing a good way to recruit top talent. The Return Hub is a good resource.

Our final observation. Too often the debate on childcare is focused solely on mothers. We need to see more men take parental leave and work flexibly for this conversation to move on from being considered just a factor for women. When employers start looking at men and women in the same way, considering that they both may want to take time off work, or change their working style, the opportunity for gender discrimination declines. Women will face fewer recruitment challenges through the key child-bearing age. That’s the path to real equality – we’re some way off, but we think we’re moving in the right direction!

Dealing with conflict at work

We were delighted to be joined by Amy Gallo, contributing editor at Harvard Business Review and author of their Guide to Dealing with Conflict. Amy’s talk combined the latest management research with practical insights to deliver evidence-based advice on difficult conversations, collaborative relationships and negotiations for women at work.

We found Amy’s discussion entertaining and full of practical advice – now to put her tips into practice! Don’t forget to check out further advice from Amy on HBR’s Women at Work podcast.

Here are our key takeaways from the talk:

  1. Too often conflict feels like a threat. We go into fight or flight mode and react with gut instinct rather than considering. Therefore we tend to avoid discussions
  2. Women tend to shy away from negotiation because we are penalised for doing so. Societal expectations of how women should behave are the opposite of how we expect leaders to behave. This double bind is difficult to navigate
  3. Disagreement does not have to be unkind. We get artificial harmony in many workplaces from not dealing with conflict.
  4. Address conflict with kindness and compassion. Try to be thoughtful and caring about other people.
  5. People generally fall into two categories: conflict avoiders or seekers. Avoiders value harmony whilst seekers lean in or create conflict because they value directness and honesty.
  6. Step to analyse a conflict:
  • Understand your counterpart. Think about what the other person is going through. Try to give them the most generous possible scenario to unhook your own bias and to be more open to hearing their perspective.
  • Identify the type of conflict. There are four types at work; relationship; task; process; status – they rarely fall into one category, separate them into each category and then identify the most appropriate solution.
  • Determine your goal. It will help you decide how to tackle the conflict. An overlapping goal makes it far easier to solve the conflict. Think about the business/relationship perspective.

7. Options for handling conflict:

  • Do nothing – in certain scenarios its best to walk away. If you do nothing you have to truly let go
  • Address indirectly (use a metaphor or a depersonalised anecdote);
  • Address directly (Amy’s recommended option if possible)
  • Exit the relationship – not recommended unless it’s paramount to your own wellbeing

8. Buy yourself some time; walk away, particularly if tensions are high; say you need a break. But don’t suggest how other people feel.

9. Don’t have these conversions over email – it does not convey the same emotion that an over the phone or in-person discussion can.

10. Manage your emotions; stay genuinely curious; label your feelings; breath; anchoring.

11. Open the conversation with a question – makes it collaborative and easier to see if you have an overlapping goal.

Final thoughts: What is one way that you behave in a conflict that you’d like to change? Remember you cannot change another person! Try to focus on what you like about that person and manage your own emotions.

How Science Got Women Wrong with Angela Saini

 

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In July, we were delighted to welcome award-winner science broadcaster and journalist Angela Saini.  As well as presenting on BBC Radio and writing for The Guardian, New Scientist and The Economist (among others), she is also author of the critically acclaimed Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong.

Angela spoke to BroadMinded about her extensive research for Inferior, revealing the shocking bias which has shaped scientific studies on gender for centuries, the myths that society has accepted as truths as a result, and the reality about women and men that science is now beginning to uncover.

Here are some of the highlights of her talk (although we highly recommend you buy the book for a fuller picture!):

  • In the past, many scientists allowed their bias and prejudice about gender or race to affect how they read data. As a result, they drew false conclusions about intellect, physical ability and natural status that were deeply damaging to women and other oppressed groups.
  • Scientists today are much more careful about eliminating bias of this kind; however, the rise of ‘click bait’ headlines means that ‘old science’ is getting airtime again in an alarming way.  As consumers it is essential that we read with a critical eye and check sources where possible.
  • Women on average have the same IQ as men and ideas of what women and men are categorically good at and not good at are myths.
  • We absorb stereotypes that we’re raised with and they’re reinforced because of the environment we live in. Upbringing plays a huge role in how socialisation affects us.
  • Studies about ‘inherent’ differences between men and women are notoriously difficult to conduct because of how early socialisation begins. The differences we have been able to identify are so slight as to be insignificant. Differences between individuals are much more significant than any differences between groups.
  • A patriarchal state is not our natural state. Bonobo monkeys (one of our closest evolutionary ancestors) exist within a matriarchal social hierarchy. This is because females cooperate with other females they aren’t related to and these strong bonds prevent males from moving up the hierarchy. We can move beyond the current patriarchal system by coming together and supporting one another.
  • The Nuclear Family is a social construct of how a family “should be”; we have not always lived like this. It forgets the importance of extended family and grandparents. One theory even suggests that grandmothers play a bigger role than parents in increasing human longevity.
  • Although social scientists look at science, scientists often don’t look at the social sciences which have much to tell us about the way that upbringing and environment can affect brain development; this needs to change.
  • Social debates are outstripping what science can tell us; in a lot of cases the science is not yet there to support the debate.
  • Science is one of the slowest areas of society to move on from its mistakes.
  • And finally, once again – differences between individuals are much more significant than any differences between groups so: 1. Let people be who they want to be and don’t try to mould them to a particular idea of what they ‘should’ be. 2. Every time you meet someone new, try hard not to form any stereotypes in your mind. Treat people as individuals.

The Future of Women in the City

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We all know the city has a long way to go when it comes to achieving gender parity. But what are the systemic and cultural problems at the root of this inequality and how can we best tackle them?  This July we were delighted to welcome Peter Harrison, CEO of British multinational asset management company Schroders, who took us through the challenges and successes he has faced in his efforts to bring diversity into the City of London.  Peter was interviewed by the brilliant former Financial Times Business Editor, Sarah Gordon.

The conversation explored a number of the key issues known to be preventing progress, as well as evaluating some of the strategies that have been implemented.  Here are some of the key points:

· The challenges that organisations face are both systemic and human, with unconscious bias still a huge factor. Companies are already changing on a systemic level; the human element is where the challenge lies. Solutions to this need to be broad, but might include companies being required to report on diversity in company accounts or more organisations linking managers’ targets and bonuses to diversity data.

· Data is key.  Ensuring efforts are correctly focused is impossible without this – for example, data would suggest that unconscious bias training is not really effective, whereas standardised interview questions are.

· Gender pay gap reporting was a hugely effective wake-up call to many organisations.  However, the metrics are not perfect.  Some suggest that the gender pay gap may have to widen for long-term positive effects to be felt, as firms need to hire entry-level female talent to close the gap.

· The problem of lack of diversity needs to be addressed by private companies, not just public companies.

· The discussion needs to develop beyond gender into a broader discussion on diversity. Many firms are still not tackling issues such as social inclusion.

 

How to present without losing your nerve

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Presentation skills aren’t just for CEO’s and TV presenters. These are skills required in almost every job, and everyone can learn to become a better public speaker, we just don’t have the techniques – cue the Pitch Process. The Pitch Process, both professionally trained actresses who have been helping people like us for nearly ten years on how to stand up confidently, speak clearly and present in a way that makes people listen.

We were joined by Laura and Peta from the Pitch Proces for a two-hour interactive workshop full of tips and tricks to improve our presenting skills – who knew whispering could be such a useful way to prepare for presentations!

We learned lots of practical techniques, but here’s our summary of the top takeaways from the morning:

 

  1. Preparation is key. Know your material inside out but also prepare yourself inside out. Do whatever you need to feel ready to take on the day whether that’s meditation, a HIIT workout or putting on your favourite red lipstick.
  2. Presence and being present – occupying space is characteristic of confidence. Use your body language, stance, eye contact and energy to hold presence. Be aware of your natural habits (voice, posture, nervous ticks) and adapt them.
  3. Use your imaginary elements (like a light beam or an imaginary cape). External points of focus can transform your body language. You don’t need to use this technique throughout the duration of the presentation, it could work best just for your entrance.
  4. Occupy vocal space. Pace, pitch and volume can all be used with variety to create impact. Warm up your vocal cords. Try reading the presentation in a whisper to practice articulation to avoid stumbling over words.
  5. Pace and pause give authority, impact and resonance and can really make the audience listen. Use pauses to land an idea. Timing is flexible.
  6. The audience is your friend and they want you to succeed! Take them on a journey with you – guide them with questions and eye contact. Tell a story (see Seth Godin).
  7. Know your audience and adapt your behavior accordingly. Are they cats (quiet) or dogs (eager)? Try to think of intentions + actions e.g. make them relaxed + smile, make eye contact. Communication is ultimately about connection and relationship.
  8. Nerves – slowing and elongating the breath helps to relax the nervous system which in turn calms us, makes us sound relaxed, fuels our voice and helps to stimulate relaxed body language. Try visualizing sending a calming blue breath to your diaphragm or place your hand on your stomach to help to connect to the physical sensation.
  9. Release tension. Physically clench your fists and toes then suddenly open them out to feel a physical release and to help release tension.
  10. Name your demon. What are the common negative thoughts that pop into your head when presenting? Try to think of these and think of a response to them – break your demon down.

Why Incompetent Leaders Rise to the Top, and How to Fix it with Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic

We were so glad to be joined by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic to discuss his controversially titled book Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders interestingly there were no men in the audience.Tomas is an organisational psychologist and professor of business psychology at UCL and Columbia University as well as Chief Talent Scientist at ManpowerGroup.

Tomas outlined the misconception about the qualities that constitute leadership potentialand redefined what kind of people make the best leaders. Here were our key takeaways from Tomas’ talk:
  1. The book was based on an article that Tomas wrote in 2013 in response to Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In which Tomas views as pseudo-meritocratic messaging much like the American Dream.
  2. In the western world, leadership comes with a certain level of narcissism as it doesn’t consider the collective and therefore doesn’t benefit society as a whole.
  3. The current system incorrectly rewards arrogance, chauvinism and confidence rather than rewarding merit. There’s a need for a system that reduces the number of incompetent people in power.
  4. Not only do we need to promote more competent leaders, we need to assess how leaders perform once they get there to truly judge if they’re good leaders.
  5. Female leaders who rise to the top are a product of the same flawed system/the same flawed leadership archetype
  6. The argument is not to promote more women but to promote a “more feminine leadership style” and people with more typically feminine attributes like self-awareness, humility and a degree of altruism – all beneficial leadership qualities.
  7. We need to learn to assess talent not confidence. The problem is that confidence is easy to see and talent more difficult to judge meaning too often confidence is mistaken for competence.
  8. But, how can we assess talent? Talent isn’t just about assessing hard skills, there are KPIs to judge soft skills too. Hiring companies should be looking at how employees have previously performed by examining upward feedback and 360s rather than just sales statistics.
  9. A good leader needs outward confidence, a degree of inner self-doubt/imposter syndrome, humility, honesty and competency. 
  10. There is hope! With the rise of A.I. and automation it’s EQ that will be increasingly in demand and emotional intelligence that will set talent apart.