Welcome to the Money Maven's Financial Blog

Money Maven Blog by Sheryl Sutherland, Authorised Financial Adviser and Director of The Financial Strategies Group

Recommended Reading

Recommended Reading by Sheryl Sutherland: Girls Just Want to Have Fund$ - Every Women’s Guide to Financial Independence, Money, Money, Money Ain't it Funny - How to Wire your Brain for Wealth, and Smart Money - How to structure your New Zealand business or investments and pay less tax.

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The Financial Strategies Group

Most of us spend 40 years working to secure our financial future; the most important investment you can make is to purchase appropriate financial planning advice.

Contact us for a review of your investments and insurances.

Begin to experience the serenity that accompanies financial responsibility and integrity: email sheryl@strategies.co.nz, call 0800 64MONEY or visit our website http://www.strategies.co.nz

Friday, 1 October 2010


Why are men and women different – the perennial question!”

Recently, the psychologist David Buss's team at the University of Texas at Austin reported that men, when looking for one-night stands, check out women's bodies. Surprise!

Like many results in evolutionary psychology, this may seem blindingly obvious, but that does not stop it from being controversial. Earlier this month a neuroscientist in Britain, Gina Rippon, lambasted what she called the "neurohype" about sex differences: "There may be some very small differences between the genders, but the similarities are far, far greater."

She has a point. Compared with, say, chimpanzees, men and women are not very different. Most of the interesting things about people—language, laughter, love, laptops—come just as naturally to both sexes.

It's no zoological accident that in all societies, however peaceful or violent, men are about 50 times more likely to kill other men than women are to kill women, and they do so most in young adulthood, when most actively competing for mates. Likewise, it is no neurophysiological accident that women coo over newborn babies more enthusiastically than men do. Women who showed interest in babies left more genes behind than those who were indifferent; men who turned violent left more genes.
These are the kinds of sex differences that we share with all other mammals. What intrigues me, though, is the possibility that human beings have other sex differences peculiar to themselves and derived from uniquely human habits of more recent origin.

Take the cliché of the golf-playing husband and the shoe-shopping wife. Not even an evolutionary psychologist would claim to find monkey equivalents to this.
In all hunter-gatherer societies there is a sharp difference between the foraging strategies of the two sexes. Men generally travel far in search of mobile prey that they need to bring down with well-aimed projectiles. Women generally go out in groups and search for good sources of roots, ripe berries or nuts, which they use their acute powers of observation to spot and collect.

This sexual division of labor over foraging is not only far more marked in people than in most other animals (it was, arguably, the first "gain from trade" we stumbled upon, benefitting both sides), but it may be a relatively recent feature of our evolutionary history, invented in Africa just 150,000 to 300,000 years ago. Some archaeologists have concluded that Neanderthals did not practice it: that female Neanderthals were co-operative hunters with men, not gatherers.

That still gave the sexual division of labor plenty of time to leave its instinctive marks on the human psyche through genetic changes, raising the intriguing thought that some of our sex differences might be caused by our culture, yet also ingrained in our genes.

From the Wall St Journal


Human Rights Commission Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Judy McGregor says baby boomer women need to step aside to let younger women move up the ranks in both the public and private sectors.

A recent letter to the editor asked if Judy McGregor was joking “Is she planning to step aside herself? Why should any woman give up her job for another? What is gained?How many men are planning to step aside so that younger people, men and women, can take their places? If she is serious, Ms McGregor has undoubtedly disqualified herself for the position she holds as equal employment commissioner.

This is undoubtedly one of the craziest statements I have heard in some time. She would be better off suggesting that baby boomer women move further up the ladder and take over from the world economy and governments which are run by old grey-suited men.

Everyday Money

They say money can’t buy happiness. They’re wrong. At least up to a point. People’s emotional wellbeing increases along with their income up to about US$75,000 (NZ$103,700), researchers report in today’s edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. For people making less than that, “Stuff is so in your face, it’s hard to be happy. It interferes with your enjoyment,” said Angus Deaton, an economist at Princeton University.

Not surprisingly, someone who moves from a US$100,000 a-year job to one paying US$200,000 realises an improved sense of success.

As a financial planner I tend to think money is good for you, and am pleased to find some evidence for that.

Finance and Investments

It’s long been known that women make better investors than men, although frankly that’s not a particularly difficult thing to do as most males have the patience of a small child with a full bladder and a tendency to hair-trigger trading for all sorts of behaviourally induced reasons. However, what’s a bit more surprising is that this difference is seen in professional investment circles as well while at the same time biases against female fund managers ensure they have less money to manage more wisely.

Female investment managers are more risk-adverse than their male colleagues and tend to stick closer to benchmarks and their own investment styles. Although they also find there are no significant differences in investment returns between the sexes they also note that women achieve greater performance persistence – which is another way of saying that they don’t tend to be amongst the outliers of great success or great failure.

Given that there are essentially no differences in returns between male and female managers you’d assume that there’d be no difference in the relative amount of funds under management but, of course, you’d be wrong as the researchers find that women only attract half the funds that men do. Which leads them to pose the provocative but interesting question: this being the case, why do fund managers bother employing women at all?

In my experience investment industry is rife with gender bias – although it’s no different from most industries in this regard – and it rather looks like our innate stereotyping mechanisms are behind this. We regard money management as a male preserve and regard successful women as odd and dangerous creatures to be avoided. In reality if we want our money managed conservatively with the minimum of fuss and risk we should seek out female fund managers. On the other hand, if we like to see our net worth changing rapidly then a red-blooded male’s the best choice: just don’t bet on the direction of net worth change being in a positive direction.

From the Psy-Fi Blog

Who's Counting?

Women are poised to claim a majority of seats in Switzerland’s Cabinet, less than four decades after the country became one of Europe’s last to grant women the right to vote in national elections. A four-three split in favour of women today – and outcome favoured in opinion polls – would make Switzerland only the fifth country in the world to have a female majority in government, according to the Inter-Parliamentary union.

Musings and Amusings

“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. We are delighted to welcome you aboard Veritas Airways, the airline that tells it like it is. Please ensure you seat belt is fastened, your seat-belt is upright and your table is stowed, as your safety is our first priority. Actually, that isn’t quite true. If it were, our seats would be rear-facing, like those in military aircraft, as they are safer in an emergency landing. But then nobody would buy tickets and we would go bust.

The flight attendants are now indicating the emergency exits. This is where you should pay attention. Knowing where the exits are makes a huge difference to your chances of survival if we have to evacuate the aircraft. Also, please keep your seat belt fastened when seated. This is to protect you from clear-air turbulence, and extremely nasty form of disturbance that can cause severe injury. Imagine food trolleys jumping through the air and bashing into overhead lockers, and you will have some idea of how unpleasant it can be. A life-jacket can be found under your seat. In the event of landing on water, an unprecedented miracle will have occurred, because in aviation history the number of wide-bodied aircraft that have successfully done this is zero. The aircraft has inflatable slides. Please remove high-heeled shoes before using the slides. We could add that space helmets and anti-gravity belts should also be removed, since to mention using the slides as rafts is entering the realm of science fiction.

Please switch off mobile phones, as they interfere with the navigation systems. Well, that’s what you’ve always been told. The real reason is because they interfere with mobile networks on the ground, but somehow that doesn’t sounds so good. On channel 11 you will find a video showing some exercises you can do to reduce the risk of deep-vein thrombosis. We are aware that this video is tedious. It is not meant to be fun, but to limit our liability in the event of lawsuits.

Once we are at cruising altitude you will be offered a light meal. This is partly to keep you in your seats where you cannot harm yourselves or anyone else. Please consume alcohol in moderation so that you become mildly sedated. Or we can always turn the air-quality down a notch or two to ensure that you are sufficiently drowsy. So please sit back, relax and enjoy the flight. Cabin crew, remember to close the doors. Sorry, I mean “Doors to automatic and cross-check.: Thank you for flying Veritas.”

From The Economist

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Musings and Amusings

Is this too good to be true?

Men Having it all in Sweden
Mikael Karlsson owns a snowmobile, two hunting dogs and five guns. In his spare time, this soldier-turned-game warden shoots moose and trades potty-training tips with other fathers. Cradling 2-month-old Siri in his arms, he can't imagine not taking baby leave. ''Everyone does.'' 85 percent of Swedish fathers take parental leave. Those who don't face questions from family, friends and colleagues.

In this land of Viking lore, men are at the heart of the gender-equality debate. The ponytailed center-right finance minister calls himself a feminist, ads for cleaning products rarely feature women as homemakers, and preschools vet books for gender stereotypes in animal characters. For nearly four decades, governments of all political hues have legislated to give women equal rights at work -- and men equal rights at home.

Profound social change.
Women's paychecks are benefiting and the shift in fathers' roles is perceived as playing a part in lower divorce rates and increasing joint custody of children.
In perhaps the most striking example of social engineering, a new definition of masculinity is emerging.

The share of fathers on leave was stalled at 6 percent when Mr. Westerberg entered government in 1991.

Women continued to take parental leave not just for tradition's sake but because their pay was often lower, thus perpetuating pay differences. Companies, meanwhile, made clear to men that staying home with baby was not compatible with a career.
''Society is a mirror of the family, the only way to achieve equality in society is to achieve equality in the home. Getting fathers to share the parental leave is an essential part of that.''

No father was forced to stay home, but the family lost one month of subsidies if he did not. Soon more than eight in 10 men took leave.

Among the self-employed, and in rural and immigrant communities, men are far less likely to take leave. That a mother’s future earnings increase on average 7 percent for every month the father takes leave.

While Sweden, with nine million people, made a strategic decision to get more women into the work force in the booming 1960s, other countries imported more immigrant men.

The trend is, however, no longer limited to small countries. Germany, with nearly 82 million people.

That was a marker of pretty significant change. If Germany can do it, she said, ''most countries can.''

Yet Sweden looks well balanced: at 2.1 percent and 40 percent of G.D.P., respectively, public deficit and debt levels are a fraction of those in most developed economies these days, testimony perhaps to fiscal management born of a banking crisis and recession in the 1990s. High productivity and political consensus keep the system going.

Source: NY Times


Women claimed three of the top five spots in Forbes magazine’s 2010 Celebrity power list, with singer Lady Gaga making her first entry and Oprah Winfrey retaking her No 1 position. Talk show host Winfrey earned an estimated US$315 million (NZ$445m), putting her stop the annual Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list for the fourth time.

Grammy-winning R & B singer Beyonce rose to second with an estimated US$87 million from a tour and album sales, together with deals in fashion fragrance and other endorsements.

Glam pop star Lady Gaga made the list for the first time, talking fourth place with estimated earnings of US$62m.

But wait there is more – its not just celebrity women who are earning as much as men, according to an analysis of the American workplace, the pay gap between men and women is set to vanish within 14 years among the professional classes, Women will on average earn more than men in careers such as law, medicine and academia by 2024, says Maddy Dychtwald, a Californian expert on demographics.

She says women are more ambitious, going for the top jobs, and younger women would find pay disparity with their male peers a joke.

If this trend continues, women in middle-income jobs such as teaching, healthcare and the arts will start overtaking men shortly after 2024.
The predictions mark a startling break with official estimates at the start of the century, which suggested the pay gap would persist for another 40 years.

Declining birth rates, a growing number of female-friendly posts and the “mancession” – where more men than women lost their jobs in the US recession – have since helped to shatter elements of the glass ceiling.
The “motherhood penalty” remains the biggest obstacle to female advancement, experts say. This may change as the birth rate fails and educational opportunity trickle down.


From the New York Times by Maureen Dowd.

I had tea and sweets with a group of educated and sophisticated young professional women.

I asked why they were not more upset about living in a country where women’s rights were strangled, an inbred and autocratic state more like an archaic men’s club than a modern nation. They told me, somewhat defensively, that the kingdom was moving at its own pace, glacial as that seemed to outsiders.

How could such spirited women, smart and successful on every other level, acquiesce in their own subordination?

I was puzzling over that one when it hit me: As a Catholic woman, I was doing the same thing. I, too, belonged to an inbred and wealthy men’s club cloistered behind walls and disdaining modernity.

I, too, remained part of an autocratic society that repressed women and ignored their progress in the secular world.

I, too, rationalized as men in dresses allowed our religious kingdom to decay and to cling to outdated misogynistic rituals, blind to the benefits of welcoming women’s brains, talents and hearts into their ancient fraternity.

The Catholic Church took its moral codes and orthodoxy to extremes not outlined by Jesus. In the New Testament, Jesus is surrounded by strong women and never advocates that any woman — whether she’s his mother or a prostitute — be treated as a second-class citizen.

Negating women is at the heart of the church’s hideous — and criminal — indifference to the welfare of boys and girls in its priests’ care.

“In the Roman Catholic corporation, the senior executives live and work, as they have for a thousand years, eschewing not just marriage, but intimacy with women … not to mention any chance to familiarize themselves with the earthy, primal messiness of families and children.”

Finance and Investment

From one of my favourites; the Psy-Fi Blog:
Geography Is Wealth

Summarising briefly, the peoples of the European-Asian land mass were favoured because the East-West directionality of the continents meant that people and animals could spread without encountering hugely unfavourable climate conditions. In Africa, for example, spreading North-South meant overcoming widely different temperature conditions, a malarial zone and the Sahara Desert.

Europe and Asia were favoured by access to the widest range of domesticatable animals and plants, and furthermore then benefited from natural selection in favour of those people best fitted to survive the diseases which could jump species.

Persistent Institutions

Robust institutions – many of today’s economic success stories are those countries where European colonisers laid down roots and established lasting institutions, while many of the basket cases are places where expropriation of resources was the main, lasting accomplishment of the colonial powers.

Property Rights Rule

In particular there appears to be a link between property rights and economic growth which seems to make intuitive sense. If you believe you’ll be allowed to reap the rewards of your labour you’re more likely to work harder and re-invest earnings. If you expect your profits to be expropriated then you’re more likely to bury them in the back garden or hide them in Switzerland where they won’t help local economic growth.

History Matters

Decisions made centuries ago are still influencing the differences between the haves and the have nots of this world. For instance, the way that revenue collection in British controlled India was performed, can predict multiple economic factors in different regions: direct revenue collection by British officials has led to better levels of education and health.

It’s not the precise economic or political system that matters but the infrastructure supporting the rule of law. Corruption and a disregard for property rights is the enemy of economic advancement, not lack of freedom. Of course, all too often these go hand in hand but it ain’t necessarily so...

Who’s counting?

Elizabeth Barrett Browning once wrote How do I love thee? Let me count the ways?
One assumes she would write a simple numbered list. Easy to read and understand mathematically.

Sometimes however we are presented with statistics which on the face of it look impeccable but which are wrong.

A recent example caught my eye – abortions for girls have doubled since 1991! The headlines shrieked, the moralists pontificated. But allow for population growth of 2-3% from 1991 til’ now and yes, you would expect the figures to double. In effect then there has been no change.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Everyday Money

If anything underlines the need most New Zealander's have to take financial advice, a new survey has found that 60% of Kiwis are financially stressed - but most don't plan to change the way they spend or invest.

The survey, undertaken by the Financial Services Institute of Australasia (Finsia), found that 60% of women and 55% of men say the global financial crisis has made them feel financially stressed.

"The sudden collapse of finance companies, the significant loss incurred by investors and the notable rise in unemployment has left many New Zealander's grappling with spiralling levels of household debt, inadequate savings and the prospect of an uncertain environment," according to Finsia CEO Dr Martin Fahey.

The opportunity for financial advisers is clear - some 23% of Kiwis are saving nothing from their income while 36% are paying interest on credit card debt and 15% don't know what interest rate they're paying on their credit card debt.

Other key findings:

• 38% of respondents said they feel slightly worse off than a year ago.
• 12% feel significantly worse off.
• 41% say they're no better or worse off post GFC.
• 8% say they're better off since the GFC, due to lower interest rates

So what to do? Meet with a Financial Planner.
Source: Financial Alert, 2010.


Few young women enter the trades where there are good career opportunities and it is possible to earn-while-you-learn.

Many jobs remain dominated by either men or women. While 99 percent of all plumbers, builders, and mechanics are men, over 90 percent of people working as caregivers, registered nurses, and secretaries are women. Male-dominated jobs tend to be higher paid than female-dominated jobs.

MWA commissioned research in 2008 on the factors that influence young people when they are deciding on a career and in particular, why so few young women enter the trades. The report Trading Choices: young people’s career decisions and gender segregation in the trades is available on the website: http://www.mwa.govt.nz/news-and-pubs/publications/trading-choices.

The overall objective of their women in trades work is to figure out how to promote the trades as a career option and remove barriers to women in trade training. They are looking across the trades where women are under-represented, and at emerging industries to see how they might prevent occupational segregation from repeating the patterns of history.


Why am I reading yet another article telling me it is good business to have women in senior positions as well as fair! I have to say it exasperates me when I look at the management of the companies I work with – they are all men. The argument I get when I query this is the old “we cannot find women for senior positions” has worn thin.

Half of The National Australia Bank leadership are women; they have a programme of hiring 200 bankers this year, setting themselves a goal of 50-50 women and they say there’s no shortage of women! The talent exists but for most men, and companies, it doesn't make it on to their radar. Extraordinary!

Finance and Investments

My favourite emerging market fund is managed by Dr Mark Mobius. He recently visited New Zealand. Some highlights from this presentation;

The Emerging Markets fund has performed exceptionally well. It has appreciated 18 fold since listing, which equates to an annual return over the past 21 years of around 15 per cent. Over the past decade it has gained 12 per cent a year in NZ dollars, trouncing both the emerging markets index which is up 6.5 per cent a year and the broader global markets MSCI index which has fallen 3.0 per cent a year over the past decade.

But 50% declines are almost ‘normal’

Emerging markets have indeed been the place to be over the past decade and Mobius and his team of 40 analysts and managers have delivered returns well about the market. But Mobius is the first to point out that this extra performance comes at a price.

Emerging markets can experience ferocious bouts of volatility. In 1994, 1998 and 2008Emerging markets, and the Templeton fund, fell by 50 per cent in a matter of months as global market weakness hit Emerging Markets hard.

Market outlook dominated by two issues: Money-printing and Derivatives

The first is the vast growth in money supply. Central banks around the world have addressed the financial crisis by slashing interest rates and pouring money into their respective economies. This has driven share markets upwards for two reasons.

First, the dramatic reductions in deposit rates mean many investors have exited their cash investments and shifted their money into shares as they seek higher returns and more income.

The fact that many central banks have effectively been printing money has raised concerns with many investors that inflation could rise sharply. These people are again buying shares as, like property, shares have historically provided a degree of protection against inflation.

The second elephant Mobius identified was derivatives contracts. Derivative contracts are investments like futures and options and other synthetic instruments. He sees the dramatic growth in the use of these investments as a major threat to the stability of markets.

For the record, he is relatively positive on the outlook for the global economy and believes the worst of the crisis is behind us. He does though continue to believe share markets across Emerging markets will continue to outperform the developed markets.

Musings and Amusings

It amazes me that so many Kiwis are reluctant to write financial plans – only around 30% of us do so. Perhaps my profession needs to take a more creative approach. Consider the following as a base for your plan:

Write a mission statement for your life. What are you dedicated to? What can people count on from you? Leave this exercise for a day or two, then re-read it. Did you learn something about your goals and dreams? Can you incorporate what you have learned about who you are, and where you want to go, into an action plan that begins today? Keep the notes you make in response to this exercise – they will be a great source for you to refer to when you come to write your financial plan. Your goals will already be established.

Imagine your future – think about your goals, dream about your goals. The philosopher Henry David Thoreau writes in Walden, “If you built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

Everyday Money

A recent survey undertaken by the Financial Services Institute of Australasian found that 60% of women and 55% of men say that the global crisis has made them feel financially stressed. The obvious response to this is simple; have a financial plan, accept that the best laid plans “gang aft agley” to quote the bard Robbie Burns. This means that once you and your financial planner have created a plan it needs to be revisited. Just as sometimes we have to detour to reach a destination. Be prepared to change your financial strategies to achieve your goals.

Who's Counting?

Susan Pinker is counting. Women are 2.8 times more likely than men to leave science and engineering careers for other occupations and 13 times more likely to exit the labour force entirely.

Pinker makes it a point to show how males are genetically at a disadvantage; prone to disease, accidents, ADHD, autism, Asperger’s, dyslexia, and others. Many males experience an overlap, getting hit with two or three of these disorders throughout their development. Without political or social posturing she lays out case after case of genetic vulnerability and learning, behavioural, and social differences. All of which creates a wide range of male ability with huge numbers of both extremely low and high achievers. Boys are three times more likely to be placed in special education classes, twice as likely to repeat a grade, and a third more likely to drop out of high school. However, males also dominate the highest percentiles of achievement, from math competitions to scrabble tournaments.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Who's Counting

According to a recent blog on fortune.com, Sharon Meers is.

Meers co-wrote a book called Getting to 50/50. Lots of fascinating stats, but some of the most intriguing revolved around the male-female balance of work at home. Meers mentioned that when couples share housework, the risk of divorce drops.

Divorce risk drops sharply when the wife has a job. The ideal set-up is when the man earns 60% of the income and does 40% of the housework. That’s when divorce risk is lowest of all.

(The sex is also better then, by the way. When men do substantial housework, couples have more frequent and satisfying sex. Meers shared this factoid privately, and she lays it all out in her book, in a section called “When He Does Windows...”)

And where in the world do men do the most to help their wives at home? Meers doesn’t have those stats, but I found them, coincidentally, yesterday in a preview of another book due out in September, Women Want More, by Boston Consulting Group senior partner Michael Silverstein, is a marketer’s guide to capturing “the world’s largest and fastest-growing market”. As part of the research for the book, BCG asked 12,000 women in 22 countries a battery of 120 questions. And among the rich findings...

“At least one-third of men never help their wives/partners with chores,” according to the BCG survey. Where do men do the least housework? Japan. Indian men to the most. And American men? They come somewhere in between, though closer to India than Japan.

By the way, chores cause more domestic arguments than anything else except money – at least in the U.S., the BCG survey suggests. In Europe, BCG found, chores are the No. 1 trigger of domestic arguments. That doesn’t surprise author Meers, “Among people over 40,” she says, “two-thirds of divorces are initiated by women. And studies show that 80% of the fights are about housework.”

Everyday Money

If you haven’t yet managed to save for your retirement you could be facing an uphill battle when it comes to your financial future.

Many of us don’t feel able to save for retirement until we have our kids off our hands and our mortgages either paid off or at a manageable level. Don’t ever think it is too late to start, there are still ways you can achieve a comfortable retirement.

No matter how little working time you have left you should be investing. Even if retirement is just around the corner.

Remember you aren’t just putting money away for the day you retire but for the rest of your life. If you are healthy and likely to live more than five years in retirement, invest accordingly; it will be the share market will give you the most growth.

While you are creating your nest egg exercise some discipline and identify which parts of your lifestyle are really important to you, and which ones you are willing to live without.

Next identify your priorities, can you downsize and release some capital and lower your monthly expenses? Does retirement mean you will quit working? Could you work part time or switch to an employer where your pay might decrease but so will your stress ?

Finally, work out a plan and invest accordingly.

Finance and Investments

Most of us have heard the saying ‘it’s time in the market, not timing the market that’s important’. During the turbulent times of 2008 and early 2009, however, it was difficult to believe.

When the global share markets (as measured by the Morgan Stanley Capital Index) fell by 54% from the peak in 2007 to their nadir this year, everything looked, sounded and felt extremely gloomy. We didn’t know which overseas bank was going to fail next and unprecedented emergency measures were being taken by governments around the world.

Our instincts were to cash up and run for the bank – and many investors did just that. Those who managed to time the market, selling all their shares at the end of September 2008 as investor sentiment began to crumble, did well if they bought into the market again in March 2009. The ability to pick the top and then the bottom of the market took extraordinary investment acumen... or two strokes of extreme good fortune!

Of course, picking the right time requires precise timing. Sell a month or two early or late and the consequences can be dire. For example investors who stayed out of the market from the lows in March this year would have missed the significant and speedy rebound of 55% in the MSCI by the end of September.

Compare this with the investor who chose to sit tight, and stayed fully invested throughout this tumultuous time. Had they invested only in shares (a high risk/high growth investment strategy), they would have suffered the initial 38% loss but then would have recovered substantially with only a small loss of 4% six months later, at the end of September. An untimely exit from a depressed market would have been costly.

Who stayed the course? Those with a plan – yes I know you have a budget, a house, a job and an investment portfolio, but that does not really mean you have a plan in the sense that I mean.

If you want to build wealth and security a financial plan is essential – I am not making this up, there is research to prove it.

You know if you are focused on a goal you are more likely to achieve it – and nothing brings goals into focus like putting them in writing. A plan will also help you identify your wildest dreams which may turn into achievable goals. It will also help you identify what risks you are taking and work out an exit strategy if the risk becomes unbearable for you.


Some excerpts from a Women on Boards Report:

International research shows a positive correlation between women in leadership and business performance.

The Catalyst report (The Bottom Line: Corporate performance and women’s representation on boards, 2007) found that in all measures the companies with the most women board members outperformed those with the least.

While women can add value to boards individually, critical mass is better.

The McKinsey study looked at the performance of companies with various numbers of women on their boards and found the largest gap in performance existed between those companies with no women on the board (poorer performance) and those with three or more (better performance).

Fresh perspectives
Boards with a balance of men and women tend to consider a wider range of issues and options, resulting in commercial decisions that are more in touch with customer needs.

Effective leadership
The McKinsey report, Women Matter 2, found that women are more likely to apply five of the top nine leadership behaviours that correlate with organisational excellence. These five leadership behaviours are those particularly linked to innovation and staff management.

Role Models
Further research by Catalyst shows that having women on boards leads to more women in senior management.

A competitive edge
Whether in times of growth or contraction, there will always be a need for the best talent possible in company leadership.
Recent economic turmoil has caused many to rethink traditional views on company membership. In late 2008, a group of 17 chief executives and heads of FTSE 100 companies in the United Kingdom wrote an open letter to the Daily Telegraph calling for gender equity in the country’s boardrooms – because “extraordinary times call for innovative solutions”.

Investor confidence
Increasingly shareholders and rating agencies are factoring into their assessments of company performance the number of women on boards.

• Research shows that women on the board can be good for the bottom line. Companies with women board members outperform those with no women.
• Teams with a mix of men and women generally work better.
• Groups with more diverse skills, knowledge and experience are likely to consider a greater range of perspectives and make higher quality decisions.
• Women may help businesses avert and solve problems more effectively. For example, having women on boards can assist companies to manage key constituencies including shareholders and employees.
• Women in corporate leadership provide good role models for other women entering the workforce. They provide a goal for others to aspire to.
• Research shows that the presence of women at board level strengthens the company’s customer base and connections to markets.


Why is there still a gender gap when it comes to earnings? We are no longer expected to be nurses, teachers and social workers but are now accountants, doctors, lawyers – and financial planners. We now hold close to 50% of the available jobs, but according to a report from the States, during the last recession 78% of the jobs lost were held by men.

Why? Because women are cheap; we earn around 77-80 cents to every dollar earned by men. Women returning to work or wanting to work part time are particularly cheap. Additionally women are still in feminine occupational ghettos.

It’s not good news when women retain positions simply because they are cheaper than men.

Musings and Amusings

I have often amused myself by musing upon the GFC (Great Financial Crisis). Musing on how events would have unfolded if there was less testosterone driving our financial markets. I am not particularly original, many pundits have elaborated on this theme.

An article on the money making activities in Sicily caught my eye. It appears that the Mafia charges a 10% levy on all businesses. Not surprisingly a group called Addiopizzo (goodbye pizzo – a reference to the levy)has formed. The group of around 300 businesses in and around Palermo, have until recently remained anonymous however women, who make up around 60% of the group are among the most vocal and courageous members. Despite threats ranging from kidnapping to property damage and death, the women are rapidly becoming a thorn in the Mafias side.

Ah, if women ruled the world!