Why Warren Buffett Invests like a Woman

women in financeAt Female Breadwinners, we encourage women to take more control over their family’s finances – especially in investments and savings. In dealing with thousands of male and female clients, we have found that women are more prudent and cautious in their investment strategies. They hold onto stocks for longer, perhaps cynically because they often have less time to ‘watch the market’.

Certainly my own experience mirrors this. My husband loves to watch his stock portfolio move and will fill me in on the lurid details, while I just keep sending in my monthly cheques to my pension plan, salting it away like my mother taught me.

The long-term benefits of “investing like a girl” are now being backed up by research. A seven-year study by the University of California found single female investors outperformed single men by 2% percent and female investment groups outperformed male counterparts by 5%.  Male investors were found to be trading 45% more than women, leading to more bad decisions and lower performance.

Men are often overconfident investors looking for one-upmanship in their stock picking. As LouAnn Lofton, author of  “Warren Buffet Invests Like a Girl: And Why You Should Too: “With men, too often investing is all about keeping score. It’s a macho thing. They’re looking for hot stock tips to get the quick win and then talk about it.”

This overconfidence has dire repercussions. A Washington Post article on Behavioural Economics mentions: “Women are more loss averse than men, more emotionally unattached and are far quicker to unload losers [losing stock]. Whereas men with their bravado, they don’t want to admit they’re wrong.”

Financial organisations would do well to have a few more cautious traders on their floors. Hiring more women would mean less overtrading of accounts, more long-term planning and less volatility. For example, Britain’s Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards (which studied the 2008 crash) recommended this strategy, including gender diversity in banking and stringing out bonuses over longer periods of time. Seems like the smart money is in investing like a woman, just like Warren Buffet.

Does your approach to investing differ from the men in your life?

Don’t Be “Cheap” – Negotiate Your Worth

As October rolls around, it’s bonus negotiation time for many of my clients in financial services. While the rest of us look forward to a slow change to autumnal foliage, women in these performance-pay based industries are gearing up for what Sarah Dudney,  an entrepreneur and city talent expert, describes as “one big bun-fight for financial recognition”.

Even if you are not in these industries,  there are lessons for all of us who negotiate our financial worth – i.e. every working woman worth her salt! As female breadwinners, pay is all the more important since we are bringing home a significant if not majority stake of the family income. Making sure you are getting paid your worth isn’t just about you – it’s about your kids, your partner and in these days of increased eldercare, everyone else who relies on your financial support.

It’s imperative that you get every pound you are worth, and in this economy, no one is going to give you more than you demand. I was recently asked to discount my speaking rate for a large British company, one with whom I’m willing to bet most of us have accounts.  They explained budgets were tight – so could I reduce my fee? While I was willing to negotiate on a few aspects, I stuck to my price for three reasons.

The first is that the more frequently I agree to ‘work for less’, the more I must accept the demoralising notion that I am ‘worth less’ – an idea savvy career women can’t abide. Secondly, it sends a great big karmic message out to the world that I don’t mean what I say and that the price I quote is not a price I believe in, again not a reputation I want among my clients. The third reason is simple congruence; how can I convince my female audiences to respect their worth if I consistently drop my fee? Sure I held my breath, knowing that my holding firm to my price might cost me the job. But in the end they didn’t quibble and I have been asked to kick off their new women in leadership programme.

In the City, October and even November will be set aside for a great big wash of testosterone-fuelled chest beating among men who want to demonstrate why they are the most important contributor to their team – and hence worthy of a fat bonus cheque. In fact, as one city insider says: “Men in the City think about their bonus numbers more than sex”.

However, as I discuss in my new book Female Breadwinners: How They Make Relationships Work and Why They are the Future of the Modern Workforce,  I challenge organisations that want to retain their top female talent to address the performance-related pay gap with transparency. In fact Theresa May has recently called for organisations to submit to voluntary pay audits to ensure any pay gap is assessed with complete transparency – a move I applaud. This will remind everyone that it’s results, and not your willingness to out-macho the guys through bragging and back-room deals, that counts.

How Does Your Bank Stack Up? – Where are the Few Women in Finance?

As I head off to the Women In Banking and Finance awards today to cheer on Vanessa Vallely of We Are The City and Carol Paterson of Alpha Female Club, my mind turns to how much the role of the female breadwinner has changed in banking.

So I was fascinated to see this simple chart showing which banks have women in senior roles. It would seem that you have a better chance of being on the group board in Germany with 7 of the 20 board members at Deutsche Bank being female. Interestingly though none of their 20 group executive committee are female. On the other hand commercial banks are lagging behind with a combined total of only 9 women out of 86 board members across the banks being women.

With the total percentage of female board members across investment and commercial banks being under 17% (view the whole table here) clearly we have a long way to go before we can tap into the benefits a well rounded board can bring. If you are a woman on the board in banking I’d love to hear your route to the top and the obstacles you overcame to get there, so please leave a comment. You can read more about women in finance here.

Why Men are Vital in Helping Women Achieve Workplace Equality

Whilst women may think they are making progress in the world of finance, the last 10 years has seen a drop in the number of women working on Wall Street. Despite investment in recruiting and gender programmes, 2.6% of women left the industry while the number of men rose by 9.6% according to a report called “What do Women on Wall Street Want? Men!”. And it seems that the answer may lie in getting more men involved. Global diversity officer at JPMorgan, Patricia David, says that because most programmes connect women with other women facing the same steep odds, they just become “mass networking” opportunities. What is needed is more targeted mentoring by those who have already succeeded in the industry, not networking programmes that most of the women are just too tired to attend at the end of the long working day. For more on Women in Finance click here.

Female Trader Donates $1.5m To Ensure A Future For Women In Finance

I read a great article yesterday in the FT about a new programme at the University of Tennessee funded by female fund manager Renée Haugerud, founder and chief investment officer of $1.1bn commodities- focused hedge fund Galtere. As a woman in finance she was so fed up with the under representation of women she decided to donate $1.5m to establish an initiative called Finance for the Future, a multi-disciplinary studies centre focused on examining and teaching about hedge fund trading from a female perspective. “My purpose was primarily to address the paucity of women in hedge funds and particularly trading,” says Ms Haugerud. “The male and female brains at times work very differently, and historically much of the teaching of trading and finance is male-orientated,” she adds. “The initiative’s aim is to provide innovative methods of teaching, designed to make women as recognised and successful in the financial industry as men are, and to create an environment where women can thrive.” She is keen to ensure that like her team at Galtere, trading desks become more diverse both in gender and nationality, which she believes will lead to better results. Having one or two token women doesn’t work as they just learn to blend in with the men and it’s business as usual. What is particularly depressing is that even in an organisation designed for women, men still felt they had the qualifications to teach trading from a female perspective. And to prove my point about men displaying inordinate, and even unmerited confidence in their abilities, 13 of the 15 applications for the role of Women in Finance director were men!

Women in Finance: Are we Actually Going Backwards?

Whilst we may think progress is being made for professional women in banking, some of the statistics in this article in Bloomberg are quite shocking. It seems, according to many of the women quoted, that not only are we still struggling against discrimination for senior posts, the trading floors are a ‘hostile environment’ where women are still routinely subjected to crude jokes and excluded from ‘boys’ outings. As Susan Estrich, a professor of gender-discrimination law at UCLA says “In the old days, the problem was conscious, explicit discrimination — the doors were literally closed and we had to put our heads against them and pound them in, discrimination today is largely unconscious, and people in power don’t even realize they’re doing it.” It appears that this is still a testosterone and risk fueled world. John Coates, a senior research fellow at Cambridge University studied traders in London and found that men with higher levels of testosterone earned more money. He found that women were better at brokerage and asset management which required more analysis, whereas only 2 to 3 percent of traders, where quick and risky decisions are required, were women. Senior women are still finding they walk a tightrope between being too feminine, and not taken seriously, trying to be one of the boys and being labelled as a ‘bitch’. If you have worked in this area I would love to hear of your experiences either good or bad.

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