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Tomie Balogun: Press For Progress? Let’s Talk About Women & Investment Planning

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Sometimes it sounds cliché to ask a woman to have a plan, because in my mother’s words, ‘an African woman can plan for Africa’. I grew up in a home where my mother had a plan for everything; when we wake up to get ready for school, how to pass exams, what to eat and even how we marry. I dare say it set me up for always thinking about a plan for everything, until I realized constantly asking the question, ‘what’s the plan?’ irked some of my precious colleagues at work.

Most women plan their households, their children’s entire lives, their spouse’s lives and so much more but here’s the thing, sometimes they fall short with planning their financial lives.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, ‘Press for Progress’ is a great build up from last year’s conversation to be bold for change. However, the ‘Press for Progress’ conversation will not be complete without a comprehensive discussion on how we can encourage women to take control of their finances.

Beyond the rhetoric where we educate the African woman to earn her own income and spend less on depreciating assets (Gucci bags, anyone?), we also need to press towards closing the gender investing gap.

What is the gender investing gap?
It is the other pay gap no one talks about. It is the gap that may cost women even more than their careers. From research, we find that rather than taking risks with investment options or making emotional decisions when we have market downturns, women are hardly investing at all. In a report by Renaissance Capital on the Nigerian middle class, 81% of respondents (49% of which were women) gave the reason for having a bank account as simply to save money. Far from being a luxury, not investing is costing more women than they think.

According to Sallie Krawcheck, co-founder & CEO Ellevest, women need to invest more for two (2) key reasons:
Women are more likely to take career breaks which can have a huge impact on their finances. Our career trajectory and income are key drivers for how we meet our financial goals and most people simply focus on improving those drivers.

However, for women, career breaks happen. A great example is the maternity break that leaves some of us feeling guilty about choosing between being fully present after childbirth or building a career.

The first time I took a maternity break, I came back to work to find out my some of my male colleagues had moved on to jobs with 50% or more higher pay. I didn’t have that luxury and got passed on a promotion that year. Eventually I quit to get an MBA. This pushed me up a bit on the career ladder until I had to take a career break again.

I have also had discussions with women who were passed on for an opportunity, for a higher paying job, after completing an interview process successfully, all because they were pregnant or had young children.

The point is life happens, sometimes unfairly; but if a woman decides to start investing 10-20% of her income from her first pay, chances are income earned from investing might help to outstrip the shortfalls that may come from taking a career break or missing out on a raise.

The second reason is the big one: Women still earn lower salaries than men. Yes, it’s the dreaded gender pay gap. There are a lot of macro conversations about the gender pay gap and the truth us, beyond gender, there are other factors that influence the gender pay gap; age, industry experience, office politics etc. The general take on this is women need to know their worth in the market place and ask for it.

Easy to say but not easy to do? Well, think about it this way, it is not just about the cost of being underpaid for one year or two years. It is the cost of being underpaid for your entire career. That’s a lot of money lost for not speaking up.

Let us build the capacity to ask for a raise knowing fully well the effect on your financial future and secondly, work with investment advisors to create investment plans that support our unique requirements.

My investment journey started when I co-founded an investment club 5 years ago with four MBA classmates. I didn’t know a lot of about investing but, together, we were determined to do better with money.

Over the course of being together, we have had good deals and made mistakes as well. However, I have learnt a lot and will continue to learn. You don’t need to know everything about investing to start your investment journey. Getting started investing is really not as complex as it sounds. Men go ahead and invest with basic financial education, women can to. Until we can boast of more financially independent women, let us keep pressing for progress.

Tomie Balogun is a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) and is on a mission to teach working professionals and entrepreneurs how to take advantage of the power of many and start investment clubs. She is the co-founder of Midas Capital Ltd (her investment club) and also the founder of The Green Investment club, an online community of investors across 6 countries (UK, USA, Cameroun, South Africa, Dubai and Nigeria). Tomie is an MBA graduate of the Lagos Business School and her career spans four (4) industries: Value Added Technology, Telecommunications, Management Consulting and Banking. She is a speaker and has been featured on various media platforms including Bella Niaja, Arise TV, Punch Newspaper, She Leads Africa, Business Day Newspapers etc. Click here to get her free 7-email course, the beginner’s guide to investing,

15 Comments

  1. Ibi

    March 13, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    There is so much value in this articule its really got me thinking. Gold on a page thanks for sharing a writing amazing

    • Tomie Balogun

      March 14, 2018 at 12:01 am

      Great to hear Ibi. So glad it helped and got you thinking. You’re welcome

  2. Izi

    March 13, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    Just the shove I need to press for progress, financially. I can exactly relate to the gender pay gap, it is only fair women earn as hard as they work.

    • Tomie Balogun

      March 14, 2018 at 12:03 am

      So glad it gave you a shove to get started. We ,women, need this reminder all the time.

  3. Yinka

    March 13, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    I can so relate with this article. A male colleague on the same level with me, by the way earned 8 times my salary, asked me once what I would need the salary increase for. I am told him, the same thing you use yours for. I got into investment early and that single financial decision helped me a lot. Now, I am an employer!

    • Tomie Balogun

      March 14, 2018 at 12:04 am

      Wow! 8 times your salary and he had the effrontery to ask you what you would use the money for? I laugh in Spanish. Anyway It’s great to hear you are now an employer of labor. Great going Yinka!

  4. Alex

    March 13, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    I think for us women, the challenge with financial planning is the lack of knowledge (which stems from the perception that finances are something that we don’t do well) and our natural risk aversion (why risk my money in an investment that can fold at anytime when it can be safe in the bank?) What helps is to look at the flip side of the picture which Tomie has painted for us. What is the real cost of not getting financially savvy enough to begin to make smart investment decisions? What do we really loose as women? For me, pressing for progress, means taking my financial growth into my hands and learning enough to be able to take smart financial risks. Will I make losses? I expect I will (I already lost some in Cryptos) but will I make gains? I know I will and it will outweigh the losses. It’s a net win for me.

    • Tomie Balogun

      March 14, 2018 at 12:06 am

      You’re right on the money, Alex. Information is power. The more we get informed, the more we make better decisions. And yes, we can still take some investment risks, albeit with information and caution.

  5. Tawakalit

    March 13, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    I for one, am just happy that at least, we’re beginning to have these conversations in a more open and robust way.

    Weldone, Ms. Tomie Balogun!

    • Tomie Balogun

      March 14, 2018 at 12:07 am

      Thanks Tawakalit! We need to keep having these robust conversations.

  6. Sab

    March 13, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    Really insightful. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Engoz

    March 13, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    Wanted to write ‘Wish you listed the various means to invest. But I see that you have a course, lol. Anyway, I think a good place to start is if you are young, start looking into Life insurance. Rates are lower for young, healthy people. There are insurances that build a cash value you can use later in life. Your children will benefit from it more. And make sure you follow it up and do your research. Use companies that have been tried and tested. Secondly, I’ve never been a saver, so when I have a lump sum, I open CD accounts or fixed deposit accounts. It’s a one time deposit. You won’t get the funds out until it reaches a time length.

    • Tuu

      March 13, 2018 at 4:08 pm

      Exactly what I was going to say, I need Investment options, I have been reading a lot of materials on investments lately and I will really love if someone can give options that can work for low income earning individuals as well.

    • Tomie Balogun

      March 14, 2018 at 12:12 am

      Lol. Yes I do have a course. I find that it’s best to make people see why they need to learn before we bombard them with information. Thanks for sharing the investment options you invest in.. Insurance is definitely a life saver. I find that a lot of young people do not do more than the required motor insurance (I guess that’s because of the volatility in the value of the Naira) but my recent personal experience has helped me to value insurance. (Article on investment options coming up soon *wink)

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