Financial New Year Resolutions – starting 2017 on the right foot

For this important topic we were excited to have both Claer Barrett, the FT’s award-winning personal finance editor, and Emilie Ballat, the founder and CEO of Vestpod, an exciting start up designed to help women get smart about money, to lead a full and frank discussion. We were thrilled with the value of the advice offered by Claer and Emilie, and the quality of the questions afterwards. As one of our members said afterwards, who knew finance and investment advice could be so interesting!

We always pick the top 10 lessons we learn from an event, but this time we had pages of the stuff! With much difficulty we whittled it down:

  1. Women are statistically not as good at managing their finances as men, but changing this bias will be increasingly important – by 2028 women will inherit two thirds of the world’s wealth
  2. “Expenditure rises to meet income” – be warned! Commit to putting time aside to manage this on a regular basis, looking at this once a year isn’t sufficient.
  3. A good rule of thumb is to spend 50% of your salary on fixed expenses, invest 20% of it, and leave 30% for additional spending (the fun stuff). Look at new challenger banks such as Monzo who provide a brilliant interface to show you how you’re spending your money
  4. Save! Even if it’s small, the benefits of compound investment will start to benefit you. Look at investment or Lifetime ISAs. Women are over invested in cash ISAs which offer very low returns
  5. Additional income can be put to overpaying your mortgage to reduce future mortgage repayments (although in this interest environment that may not be the best use of cash), or go and talk to your HR teams about over investing in your pension – a highly tax efficient way of saving for your future.
  6. Ask for pay rises – while women ask just as much, we don’t have as much confidence we’ll get it. Don’t expect to be recognised and paid more by osmosis, you need to regularly communicate the value you add to your company. Don’t just wait until your pay review to do this.
  7. Passive investment funds are more often a better investment than active investment funds.
  8. If you want to invest in individual shares, make sure it’s money you can afford to lose. It is a gamble.
  9. If you need to manage down credit card debt, move the debt to a zero interest credit card. Divide the balance by the number of zero-interest months offered, and set up a direct debit to pay this much each month. Then cut up the credit card until you’ve paid it off.
  10. Pension or mortgage – ideally both. You shouldn’t look to sacrifice one for another

And remember, April is just round the corner so you should be reviewing your Finances and particularly ISAs now before the end of the tax year. Go forth and manage those finances!

The 100 Year Life: Living & Working in the Age of Longevity with Lynda Gratton

LyndaGratton-BroadMinded

Living to 100 years. A terrifying or exciting thought? 50% of those aged 20 today are expected to reach 100, and this shift in life expectancy will affect us all.

Professor Lynda Gratton from London Business School came to tell us what to expect from this elongated life, a subject explored in her new book ‘The 100 Yr Life’. Beyond the thought-provoking talk Lynda gave us over dinner at the beautiful 12 Hay Hill, Lynda’s own achievements are incredibly inspiring. Lynda was named amongst the 15 top thought leaders in the Thinkers50 ranking, and has had a fascinating and varied career: a wonderful role model for us all.

Here are 10 things we learned last night that
this increased longevity means for young women today:

1. We will need to work until our late 70s (at least!) and the
retirement age will go up, but no political party will tell us this as
it’s not something the electorate wants to hear.

2. This is likely to shift the traditional linear three-stage life
(full time education, full time work, retirement) to a multi-stage
life

3. This means a life that might include portfolio careers, as well as
periods as ‘independent producers’ and ‘adventurers’ (gap years won’t
be just for 19 year olds!)

4. These stages will order differently for each of us and so age
becomes less important. We’ll become more age agnostic with our
friendships and working relationships, as we work for longer and
retire later

5. The lengthening of life is simple for men, it stretches out evenly.
As women, think about it like an elastic band, where the only time
that isn’t stretching is the period in which you can have babies. It’s
life post-babies that gets longer, and that’s an opportunity!

6. For women, does going back to work soon after having babies buy us
an option for the future? Just think you working future might be 20
years longer than it was for your mother. Dual income households have
become the norm

7. Money allows you to retire early (do invest in these tangible
assets), but intangible assets allow you to keep working for longer.
These are productive assets (skills and reputation), vitality assets
(health and friendships) and transformational assets (self knowledge,
diverse networks and openness to experience)

8. Friendships and relationships play a hugely important role in
happiness. Remember, you can be the richest person in the world but
money can’t buy a 50-year friendship

9. Build those intangible assets, but don’t be overly focused on one.
They can build up over time. However don’t allow any of these
intangible assets to deplete for a long period of time

10. We’re living in a period in which technology is drastically
changing the world of work. Technology is hollowing out the labour
market, replacing unskilled jobs and augmenting skilled ones. Learn to
be a specialist in something, not a generalist; go deep into what
you’re interested in to differentiate from the pack

And the number one piece of advice for a long life…? SLEEP!

Kate Philp: From Afghanistan to Antarctica

KatePhilpBroadMinded
Kate joined the Army straight from Oxford University and was deployed on front-line operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. An Improvised Explosive Device (IED) put an end to her tour of Afghanistan and Kate’s injuries resulted in her electing to have her leg amputated below the knee. At the end of 2013 Kate trekked to the South Pole as part of an expedition organised by Walking With The Wounded, braving -45 degree temperatures, frost bite and exhaustion.
Kate talked to us about drawing on her resilience to overcome both professional and personal challenges, in a fascinating journey that took her from fighting on the front line in Afghanistan to surviving in the hostile environment of Antarctica. Kate is truly inspiring; her spirit, determination and general attitude to life is something we’ll all hope to replicate.
Here are 10 key takeaways from the evening:
1. Think of the four Es: explore, express, examine, experience
2. Keep things in perspective: there’s always someone worse off than you
3. Remember your goal but don’t be afraid to redefine success
4. Get out of your comfort zone and test your limits
5. Trust yourself and the decisions you make; this goes deeper than confidence
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; and be ready to help others
7. Exercise your body and your mind
8. Don’t be defined by labels
9. Don’t just exist, be excited
10. And always have Prince Harry on hand to do the washing up…

Insights from the most powerful woman banker in Britain

JayneAnneVirginMoneyBroadMinded

We were thrilled to have Jayne-Anne Gadhia, CEO of Virgin Money, come and talk to us. We found her down-to-earth and no-nonsense approach very inspirational; she has some quite incredible stories and a wicked sense of humour.

As always it was difficult to cut our takeaways down to 10, but the biggest lessons we took from the evening were:

1) Embrace the opportunities that life throws at you

2) Creating relationships and building a network opens doors

3) Don’t be afraid to ask for help: “what is life about if we can’t all help each other?”

4) You don’t need a thick skin and bullsh*t to sell products if the products are good and the people are legitimate

5) Work with people who are different to you

6) Try and make the most of the work/life balance

7) Keep your naivety and never stop being surprised

8) Be a troublemaker: break out of the rules that people make for no reason

9) Be clear on the company’s purpose: making money is not a purpose, it’s an outcome

10) Be more than a brand: show what your substance is

Above all, BE YOURSELF.

This week marked the launch of the Gadhia report on women in finance. BroadMinded was delighted to contribute to it and the round table we held is quoted on the homepage of the report’s website. Here are the 10 key recommendations in the report:

1) Invest in supportive people managers

2) Create the right culture

3) Provide technology which supports flexible working

4) Ensure there are transparent pay structures

5) Increase the number of female role models

6) Implement good flexible working policies

7) and 8) Supporting working parents

9) Offer mentoring schemes and ‘active’ sponsorship

10) Provide Opportunities for women to gain commercial experience

Read the full report: http://uk.virginmoney.com/virgin/women-in-finance/

Building a Network for those who Hate Networking with Zella King

zellakingbroadminded

Academic research shows that it tends to be harder for women to have a strong network and here’s why:

– the force of numbers: the top is dominated by men who are likely to seek out and promote people who are like them e.g. other men

– women are less likely to use their network connections for their own advantage

– women are afraid to be seen as too pushy because success and likeability are seen as being positively correlated with men and negatively correlated with women

Here is what we learned about what it means to use your network to get ahead:

– 20 per cent of the time you should be out there meeting people

– think about the three categories of people in your personal boardroom: those who can bring you power, those who can bring you information and those who can help you develop

– if you’re not telling your sponsor what you achieved, someone else will be telling your sponsor what they achieved

– ask people for help with a specific question (avoid “will you be my mentor?”). They will be likely more willing to meet you on a specific topic.

– think about who are the people who shape decisions outside the meeting room; try and have the “meeting before the meeting”

– if someone says no to your request for help, you’re still in the same position. Therefore there is only upside to asking, as they might say yes.

– which role do you fill for others in their personal boardroom? It’s a two-way process.

Further reading: Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time by Jeffrey Pfeffer

Sex discrimination and gender at work – a discussion with leading barrister Marina Wheeler

marinawheelerbroadminded

Marina Wheeler led a very lively discussion, so lively that the waiters started clearing up around us as the restaurant was closing! Marina admitted to having a resurgence in feminist beliefs, driven by a sudden realisation of how slow progress has been over the last 30 years.

Marina was a wonderful speaker, and left us with 10, and more, things to think about from her excellent talk:

  1. Women are not being kept out anymore but it’s not all sweetness and light. Only one in five High Court judges are women; and there are fewer women leading FTSE firms than men called John.
  2. Society’s main preoccupation seems to be how attractive a woman is – and this falls within a narrow definition. eg Hilary Mantel, Mary Beard, Cherie Blair, and Samantha Cameron’s lack of pedicure
  3. If appearance is the main currency, it objectifies women and ensures that they will only flourish for a short-lived period of time.
  4. Women are guilty of objectifying men (albeit to a lesser extent). Just look at the reaction to the new Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau…
  5. Charlotte Proudman and LinkedIn-gate…one woman’s charm is another woman’s flirting – the two are very open to personal interpretation. Excessive focus on women’s appearance limits our freedom and it should be addressed – but what is a constructive way and forum in which to respond? Is failure to shout out colluding and condoning sexism?
  6. The media is inconsistent in its portrayal of sexism and related issues. A month before the Charlotte Proudman case, the Telegraph published Britain’s 25 sexist solicitors.
  7. Women’s choices aren’t as free as we think they are: we face a spectrum of overt discrimination, internal barriers and practical considerations such as the cost of childcare.
  8. Why do we hold ourselves back? Assertive females may be respected but they’re not liked. Women are brought up to put others first. The Heidi/Howard test shows that success and likeability, concludes Sheryl Sandberg, are positively correlated for men and negatively for women.
  9. “Kids are the killer to progression.” Sometimes older women are unsympathetic because they want to validate their own choices.
  10. Gender stereotypes are still going strong. Women end up doing the lion’s share of the housework. Women need to lean in at work; men must lean in at home. Men and women’s happiness benefits from greater flexibility of roles and a breaking down of stereotypes.

Further reading:

  • Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism, by Natasha Walter
  • Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers, by Lois Frankel

And finally some words of wisdom from Marina’s husband: “Mess it up and move on.”

Fertility: focusing on the facts and debunking the myths

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Grace Belgravia, the luxury women-only private members club focused on health & wellness, hosted us for an evening focused on fertility. Fertilty is a topic that rarely seems to leave the news, whether it’s Google deciding to offer egg-freezing to their female employees, or scare stories about the impact our lifestyles have on our ability to have children. With such speculation and often hysteria in the press, we sought out the advice of specialists who could tell us what was true, what was myth, and what we can do to protect our fertility for the future.

Dr Tim Evans, Medical Director at Grace and doctor to the Queen, introduced the event to our members, and advised us of the importance of looking after our physical and mental health at all times. Balancing busy lives and careers can be tough, and stress can have a detrimental effect on our health, including our fertility.

Following a delicious and healthy meal in the Grace restaurant, Dr Marie Evans walked us through the facts about fertility, fielding our many questions and guiding the debate. Alongside Dr Marie our member Sapana Agrawal, founder of egg-freezing company Smart Egg, told us what we need to know about egg freezing. It’s a controversial topic, but a subject that is on any career-women’s radar so it’s important we’re armed with the facts.

There’s so much more to learn beyond the below, but we hope it’s a good starting point for future conversations and debate

12 things we learned about fertility

1. Fertility varies widely across age groups and across lifestyles. While statistics can talk about probabilities, there is a broad range of factors that determine individual fertility levels. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle – regular exercise, a balanced diet, avoiding drugs and excessive drink – is advisable whatever age you are.

2. Women are born with all of their eggs; men start making sperm when they are born and will continue to do so throughout their lives, although the quality deteriorates as they age.

3. For most women, there are only 12 opportunities to get pregnant each year (once per cycle). For men, there are roughly 60 million sperm each time they ejaculate. Sperm can live in the woman’s body for 48 hours before ovulation, so the window of opportunity is three to four days each month.

4. Female fertility declines with age as the number and quality of eggs reduces: a 30-year-old woman having unprotected sex for a year has a 75 per cent chance of getting pregnant; a 40-year-old woman having unprotected sex for a year has a roughly 45 per cent chance of getting pregnant within the year.

5. One in six couples will find it difficult to conceive. One in 10 couples will need fertility treatment.

6. The average age of women to have their first child is 28; this age is greater in high-achieving women.

7. Fertility declines with age and studies suggest that the pace of decline steepens after the age of 35.

8. Don’t catch STDs and if you do, treat them quickly. They can have major impacts on fertility.

9. There is no relation to when you started your period and when you will go through menopause.

10. Taking the pill and the morning after pill are unlikely to have a long-term impact on your fertility. It is a myth that it prevents you from using up your eggs though!

11. The older the mother, the greater the risk of genetic abnormality in the baby.

12. You can have an AMH fertility test done at most clinics for around £60. This tells you whether you are above or below average fertility and so whether egg freezing might be particularly relevant for you.



12 things we learned about egg-freezing 

1. Typically you freeze 15-20 eggs; most women produce 8-12 eggs per cycle.

2. In the UK the cost of egg freezing is around £4k-£4.5k per cycle, with storage costs of £100-£300 each year.

3. Over 90% of eggs survive thawing.

4. The process of egg freezing is similar to the early stages of IVF. It involves injecting yourself with hormones for 10-15 days. The effect of these hormones varies by woman – it’s like PMS but multiplied by 10!

5. Harvesting the eggs then involves either sedation or a general anaesthetic. The procedure should take only around 10 minutes.

6. Eggs are frozen in liquid nitrogen and stored safely. Only mature eggs are frozen; at this stage you can’t tell if the eggs being frozen are genetically normal.

7. The whole egg freezing process should take no longer than 20 days from start to finish.

8. Once the eggs are thawed, they are mixed with sperm and the embryo is implanted into the woman about five days later.

9. The risks are low. Roughly 0.5% of women experience hyper-stimulation from the hormones and there is very rarely long-term damage.

10. If you are going to want to freeze your eggs for social reasons, sooner is better rather than later. The younger the eggs, the better quality they are.

11. Pick a clinic that has had as many successful live births from social egg freezing as possible. Only 20 babies have been born in the UK from frozen eggs; the industry is still in nascent stages.

12. While there are relatively few cases in which women have had their eggs thawed and fertilised for pregnancy, studies in Italy and Spain suggest that success rates in IVF using frozen-thawed eggs are just as good as those using fresh eggs.