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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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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