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.

The Financial Strategies Group

We think for ourselves and make unique recommendations. We only recommend investments and insurances that are in the best interest of our clients.

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, 27 January 2012

Who's counting?

Interesting that the two energy sources New Zealand is not using are the cheapest. Political correctness perhaps?


Why are we being forced to use electricity? Is it too hard to attack sectors such as manufacturing, transportation, agriculture and deforestation? This is of particular interest to Christchurch residents who are being forced to use electricity as the main source of heating.

Finance and Investments

Women in developed economies have made substantial gains in the workplace during recent decades. Nevertheless, it’s still true that the higher up in a company you look, the lower the percentage of women.

Research in Europe and the United States suggests, for example, that companies with several senior-level women tend to perform better financially. Hiring and retaining women at all levels also enlarges a company’s pool of talent at a time when shortages are appearing throughout industries.

Many countries and regions face talent shortages at all levels, and those gaps will worsen. By 2040, Europe will have a shortfall of 24 million workers aged 15 to 65; raising the proportion of women in the workplace to that of men would cut the gap to 3 million. In the United States, the upcoming retirement of the baby boomers will probably mean that companies are going to lose large numbers of senior-level employees in a short period of time; nearly one-fifth of the working-age population (16 and older) of the United States will be at least 65 by 2016.

In recent years, McKinsey has done extensive work on the relationship between organisational and financial performance and on the number of women who are managers at the companies they have studied. The research has shown, first, that the companies around the world with the highest scores on nine important dimensions of organisation—from leadership and direction to accountability and motivation—are likely to have higher operating margins than their lower-ranked counterparts do. Secondly, among the companies for which information on the gender of senior managers was available, those with three or more women on their senior-management teams scored higher on all nine organisational criteria than did companies with no senior-level women.

Work by professors at the business schools of Columbia University and the University of Maryland lends support to this point. demonstrate the “strong positive association between Tobin’s Q, return on assets, and return on equity on the one hand and the [female top-management] participation rate on the other.”

It’s exasperating to see these studies and be aware of the pool of talented women who are not being advanced in their careers either as senior management or directors.

Why are we still stuck in this rut? Changing companies minds about women.

Despite significant corporate commitment to the advancement of women’s careers, progress appears to have stalled. The percentage of women on boards and senior-executive teams remains stuck at around 15 percent in many countries, and just 3 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women.

The last generation of workplace innovations—policies to support women with young children, networks to help women navigate their careers, formal sponsorship programs to ensure professional development—broke down structural barriers holding women back. The next frontier is toppling invisible barriers: mind-sets widely held by managers, men and women alike, that are rarely acknowledged but block the way.

When senior leaders commit themselves to gender diversity, they really mean it—but in the heat of the moment, deeply entrenched beliefs cause old forms of behaviour to resurface. A survey McKinsey conducted earlier this year indicated that although a majority of women who make it to senior roles have a real desire to lead, few think they have meaningful support to do so, and even fewer think they’re in line to move up.

Do women lack ambition? Not on your life.

Women want to succeed, yet even when they do “all the right things” Catalyst has found that they earn less and progress more slowly than men. The fact that some women adjust their career advancement strategies after crashing into institutional barriers is a rational response to inhospitable workplaces. It is not an example of a lack of ambition.

Women aspired to be CEO in equal proportions as men. But the women—to a much greater extent than men—ran up against barriers, namely exclusion from informal networks, stereotyping, and a lack of role models. Our report found that women and men have similar work values. The problem is this: men find workplaces more aligned with their values, women don’t.

The latest Catalyst report examined the career advancement strategies of thousands of MBA graduates from top schools around the world and the impact of these strategies on their careers. Women and men were equally represented in the two most proactive groups, indicating that ambition ran high among both genders. But being proactive paid off more in promotions and pay for the men.

In Pipeline’s Broken Promise, Catalyst found that among MBA grads who aspired to be CEO or senior executives, women progressed more slowly than men. And parenthood, industry, and previous experience didn’t explain the gender gap. The leadership and pay gaps balloon over time, suggesting that the problem lies with the system, not the women.

The misguided assumption that women are less ambitious than men puts companies at risk of inadvertently underutilising talented women and overlooking, or outright dismissing them, for key roles. This is a real loss for companies. Organisations need to step up and clear a path for women’s success.

Women are ambitious. But systemic barriers in the workplace mean that ambition, even when coupled with talent, isn’t always enough.

How to get to the other side of the debt chasm

Paying off debt doesn’t require a secret formula: 48% of people who’ve done it said they simply stopped spending on their cards, 28% stuck to a budget, and 15% took a side job.

Living debt-free – what is it like
You’ll live a fuller life. A full 60% of people surveyed felt that being in debt prevented them from really enjoying life. Picture what you’d put your energy into when your debts were paid.

You’ll save money. Using 30% or less of your total available credit.
You’ll feel better. Some 62% of people said debt added unwanted emotional stress.
Your first step: Get debt coaching.