Anna Sofat: Independence

Independence is the first step towards empowerment and equality. You can’t be a true equal if you don’t have some level of autonomy and freedom of choice. If we have not chosen it, being reliant on someone else for our daily financial needs is far from ideal. In the same way, if we only do what someone else wants us to or can’t get by without other people’s approval we are not emotionally independent. Being financially independent means that we can take personal control over many important decisions our lives. It’s a freedom and a responsibility and it’s been hard won.

It is easy to forget that financial independence for women, even in a progressive country like the UK, is a relatively recent phenomenon. Before the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975, banks could refuse to give women mortgages without a male guarantor and it was as late as 1980 before women could apply for loans and credit in their own name. It took a further 10 years to 1990, before women were taxed separately from their husbands for the first time1.

 

The link between financial and emotional independence is very strong but not at all straightforward. Money is neutral – what we feel about it and how we use it are anything but.

At its worst extreme, financial and emotional control of another person robs them of independence, dignity and personal freedom in every part of their life. Widespread reporting of incidents in which women, in particular, have been exploited in this way has led to changes in the law in the UK. Controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship became an offence under section 76 of the 2015 Serious Crime Act2.

 

Each of us has a unique history in which finance has played a significant part. We all have an emotional relationship with money, even if we don’t see it in these terms. Maybe both our parents worked or maybe only one did. Perhaps we inherited wealth, or we just always had what we needed to feel comfortable and secure. Maybe we were aware of problems or tensions around money and the limitation of opportunities as a result of never having enough. Role models, social pressures and formative experiences undoubtedly influence our motivations, expectations and desires, whether we recognise it or not.

 

Confidence: work in progress

Women of all ages and backgrounds can be uncomfortable talking about money and their own needs which isn’t surprising given the relative newness of our financial empowerment.

Some women have to work to support themselves and would prefer not to be in that situation. Others choose to pursue careers and many professional women are now the primary breadwinner in their families3 by choice.

 

Even then, many women struggle with entitlement issues or feel queasy asking for a pay rise even though they know they deserve it and their male colleagues wouldn’t doubt himself in the same situation. A supportive, transparent culture at work where equal opportunities and pay are the norm and reward is equitable, regardless of gender should be our expectation – not the exception. Being in touch with what we have achieved- valuing ourselves and our individual contribution is a good way of building confidence.

 

There is no question that overall our independence has made us stronger and we should celebrate that. But although women are earning more than ever before and taking on more financial responsibility4, achieving financial independence can be challenging. We still generally earn less than men over our lifetimes. The gender pay gap persists across many sectors of the economy and many women who take on caring responsibilities have no option other than to work part time, which can seriously restrict our ability to invest in our futures, be it through pensions or other means.

 

Lack of financial confidence is a major factor for women when it comes to planning for the future. A study carried out by UBS shows that 58 per cent of women across the world defer to their husbands for long-term financial decisions.  Alarmingly, that rises to 69 per cent for UK millennial women, even if they are the primary earner in their household!5. It’s clear there is still a significant way to go. We need to educate girls to talk about money as early as possible and to continue the conversation throughout their adult lives.

 

Our financial and emotional needs, our hopes and dreams may differ significantly from men too, so it is really important we educate ourselves about investments and normalize conversations around money. Whether at the start of working life, or established in a career, we think it’s helpful to see financial independence as a progressive journey to get excited about, set goals for, plan for and talk about. It always makes sense for women to start these conversations as early as possible to avoid financial dependence later in life.

 

 

Positive relations are important

It’s inevitable that relationship dynamics are affected by our new roles at home and work. For women who feel supported in their choices it is a positive experience. For others it can be an area that is fraught with tensions. What is particularly hard to understand is the lack of compassion we frequently show each other about the different circumstances we’re in and the choices we’re making. It only takes a brief engagement with social media or a quick online trawl to see the aggressive lack of respect women are dishing out to each other.

 

It’s saddening and unhelpful to all women to see us embrace the opportunity for financial independence at the cost of kindness and humility for others. We need to talk about this because it is highly devisive and can cause intense misery and isolation for women who have made choices that go against the cultural norm. Whether you are an alpha female or a stay at home mother – it is our freedom to choose the life we want to lead that is really important. Every woman’s choice is legitimate and should be respected, even though it may not be what we choose for ourselves.

 

Many women around the world still don’t have the opportunity to be who they are and lead the life of their choice. Identity, culture and circumstances can entwine to limit their personal freedom. Independence, financial and emotional, isn’t possible for reasons outside of their control. For those of us fortunate enough to live in societies where access to education and the labour market is enabled, exercising our freedom of choice and achieving financial and emotional independence is possible and desirable.

In fact, it’s priceless.

 

Sources

  1. www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1975/65/contents
  2. www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/controlling-or-coercive-behaviour-intimate-or-family-relationship
  3. Kantar, Winning over women
  4. Kantar, Winning over women

5.UBS

 

 

Let’s talk about… money!

Let’s talk about… the M word (money)

Part of the reason we set up Addidi as a financial planners specialising in women is that we recognised that women were largely ignored by the financial services industry. When it comes to financial products, women often tell us they feel overlooked and ignored.

Over time, many women have (understandably) become disenfranchised with the industry as a whole. Unfortunately, this often has further knock-on effects – leading to women failing to engage with their financial futures and not wanting or willing to investigate the options available to them.

So we’re going to be putting together a series of articles to look in further detail at several different topics relating to financial planning – dispelling the myths and giving you the lowdown on the things that matter.

The first in the series is all about that dirty M word…Money!

We need it to buy things. We need it to do things. We need it to live. But we hate talking about it.

It’s money.

The reasons why we hate talking about money aren’t clear cut. Maybe one of the reasons is that in relative terms, women’s rights in relation to money have only evolved fairly recently in history. As an example, women in the UK have only able to apply for loans and credit cards in their own name since 1980! With money and finances being traditionally viewed as the domain of ‘men’, there may be a bit of a ‘hangover’ from this.

Perhaps it comes down to a lack of knowledge, confidence or experience? Maybe, as outlined above, women feel excluded from the financial world and therefore feel they somehow lack the know-how to talk about it?

Whether you like it or not, the fact is: money matters.

Money allows us to do the things we want to in life rather than being forced down a path because we have no choice. Money puts us in a stronger position when life deals an unexpected turn – giving us more options and greater stability. Also, with both women and men living longer than ever before, it’s worth remembering that money has to deliver for longer than it ever has before. Even if you work into your 60’s, a pension or other ‘retirement pot’ might feasibly have to last another 30 or so years.

One of the things that sets Addidi apart from other financial planners and wealth managers is that we recognise that money means different things to different people.  For women in particular, money is often viewed as a means of security.

Unfortunately, women’s propensity to avoid talking about money doesn’t do many favours. The more you shy away from money and the things you can do to make more of it, the less likely you’ll be able to make the most of what you have. The less willing you are to get a grasp of your financial circumstances and put the time and effort info financial planning, the less you will have in the long term.

Without fully embracing your finances, by the time you reach retirement, the likelihood of you having a decent retirement fund to fall back on is low. In fact statistically, women have significantly lower pension pots than men, with the average pension pot of a woman at 65 being £35,800 – a fifth of a man’s at the same age. So what can be done?

Don’t shy away from the facts

Human nature may lead us to not want to talk about money. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have knowledge about your financial position. Being aware of how much money you have, where it is and whether or not you are able to instantly access it is the first step to being able to control your financial destiny. This includes money in pension pots and property – which are generally considered to be illiquid funds (ie. not accessible instantly). From here, you can determine what you need to do to attain the goals you may have – for example, retiring at 65. Many people – women and men included – are blissfully unaware of how much money they will need for their retirement, meaning that several will fall short. There are several calculator tools available online to determine how much you need to save for retirement. If you are nearing retirement age, you should also check the government’s pension tool to find out how much you will be entitled to and from when.

Do your own research

Although many women feel they aren’t catered for by the financial services industry, this doesn’t stop you taking matters into your own hands. There is a wealth of information out there that you can use to educate yourself; arming you with the knowledge you need and giving you greater confidence. Check out The Money Advice Service and Boring Money for lots of tips and advice articles.

Find the right adviser for you

If you go down the route of professional financial planning, make sure you find an adviser you’re happy with. Clients often come to us having had bad experiences with other advisers – saying they didn’t feel their needs were catered for or understood. A financial plan should be pieced together to achieve your own personal objectives, so it’s key to find someone who is able to work with you and vice versa.

Money needn’t be a dirty word. As women, we need to embrace money as an important factor in our lives. It can’t and will never be able to buy happiness. But the more of it you have, the more choices you are afforded.

The problem with imposter syndrome

Have you ever questioned your ability to be in your own job, wondering how on earth you got there?

Do you constantly brush off compliments you receive, never taking the recognition for your own skills or talents?

Do you find yourself worrying that one day you’ll be ‘found out’ – that you’ll be uncovered as being somehow ‘unworthy’ of your job?

You’re not alone. A study conducted by psychologist Gail Matthews suggests that 70% of successful people experience imposter feelings at some point in their life.

Albert Einstein. Meryl Steep. Tom Hanks. Three people that you perhaps wouldn’t have thought of as lacking in confidence, yet all individuals who, at some stage or other, have experienced ‘imposter syndrome’.

The fact is that imposter syndrome can affect any of us at any time.  However, there are three issues that make women’s experience of imposter syndrome potentially far more serious.

Firstly, the evidence suggests that women encounter imposter feelings more frequently than men. A study by Access Commercial Finance found that two-thirds of women say they’ve experienced imposter syndrome at work in the past 12 months. The study found that the male counterparts were 18% less likely to encounter such feelings in the work environment.

The second issue is that women can find themselves having to leave and re-enter the workplace, or take on part time roles – sometimes at a less senior level than were held previously – due to having children or taking responsibility for childcare. Time out of the workplace in itself can have a serious impact on confidence, and by their nature, part time roles can be considered as less important – both by employers and employees.

The third, and perhaps most significant problem, is that the actions that come as a result of ‘imposter’ feelings are particularly unhelpful to the women’s agenda. Let’s explore this…

If you harbour feelings of somehow being inadequate in your job, it’s unlikely that you will put yourself in a position where you could be held accountable or responsible. = Barrier to promotion.

If you lack confidence at work, your default will be to hold back – not contributing or making your opinions known, even when you know them to be worthwhile. = Barrier to promotion.

If you think you don’t deserve to be there in the first place, you will probably accept a job without even attempting to negotiate on pay or package, or not ask for a pay rise or promotion in an existing position. = Barrier to better pay/promotion.

The pattern that emerges here is clear – and unfortunately, has the effect of becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy and having the long-term potential of further contributing to the gender pay gap (which, by the way, appears to be getting worse, not better – according to an analysis by the BBC, which found that four in 10 private companies that have published their latest gender pay gap information have wider gaps than they did last year.)  So far from the state of play becoming fairer, it’s actually becoming more unequal.

However, without the confidence in their own abilities, it’s unlikely that women will be able to take the actions needed to make fundamental change.

This is one of the reasons why we’ve recently launched our Change the Culture of Wealth manifesto. Whilst women can – and should – make changes at their own individual level, we believe that the catalyst for real change will only come from collaboration – from the individuals on the ground to the government taking decisive action to change legislation and create a fairer place for both men and women to do business.

Only after this happens in synergy will imbalance begin to be redressed.

You can read our Changing the Culture of Wealth Manifesto here.

Why we all need to strike the balance for better

It was International Women’s Day (IWD) on Friday, and the theme for this year is ‘balance for better’.

Interestingly, this year’s IWD has a distinct business focus. In describing the agenda for the year ahead, the website for IWD states that balance for better means to: ‘encourage gender balance in boardrooms, in the media and in wealth as a way for economies to thrive.’

I’ve been thinking about this theme – which really strikes a chord with me – in relation to the clients we work with, our own business and the business community as a whole. Achieving better balance is something we’ve been working towards in our own way over the 10 years we’ve been in business. In a male-dominated industry, we deliberately chose to focus our attention on female clients – recognising that women can hold the purse strings and in doing so, can create a better destiny for themselves and their families.

On an individual level, we’re proud of the many women we have been able to help along the way. Yet we recognise that we’re only just scratching the surface.
‘Balance’ is defined as a situation in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.

We are clearly not at this point so far as women’s wealth, or women in the business community are concerned.

So when some groups question the relevance of International Women’s Day – whether there’s any need for it and what having a designated day to both celebrate the achievements of women and to focus on the women’s agenda is needed – there seems to me to be an obvious answer. Clearly, we can’t change the world in a single day. But IWD at least provides a focal point. Its annual appearance in our diaries reminds us of how far we have come, yet how far we still have to go.

IWD gives us the platform and power of collaboration. But let’s not forget that change can be enacted by one person with one small act or change.

The glorious thing about communicating in today’s world is that we can all have a voice. Social media is accessible to the majority and writing a blog is something we can all do. So we can all, if we choose, have our own say on or during the International Women’s Day celebrations.

We can all attend an event, or mark International Women’s Day in some way.

Many people may even choose to host their own event to mark the occasion – be it within their own group of friends, at their workplace or between others in the business community.

You might even decide to use the power of the pink pound – by actively seeking out female-founded or led businesses to spend your money with.

The message here is that if we – as womenkind – really want to achieve a better balance, we all need to be accountable. And International Women’s Day is a timely and useful reminder of this.

At Addidi, we’re all striking the pose for #balanceforbetter.

The way forward for women in business

At Addidi, our women in business clients usually have one of three profiles. They’re either entrepreneurs and self-employed or they’re business leaders – getting close to or already sitting at the top table of their company or profession.

We say ‘usually’ because we know only too well it’s never ‘business as usual’ for the majority of women in business.

The rising number of us entering the workforce over the last forty years and our new economic power means we have increasing quantities of data available to track, analyse and understand what’s really going on in women’s working lives. This information is essential for benchmarking our progress, identifying challenges ahead and recording our experiences for future generations. It helps us present the case for change.

While the data can tell us a lot, conversations with our clients and women in our wider network help fill out the psychological picture. What’s clear is there isn’t a uniform landscape or experience for women in business.

An uneven landscape

We’re making incredible strides forward and rising to some of the biggest challenges of our day. Women are pioneering new business models and we’re advocating fairer, more flexible ways of working. Yet we’re still experiencing the cultural challenges that remain deeply embedded in many business sectors.

Entrepreneurs doing good business

The “Enterprise Gap”, the difference in the number of men and women owning companies, has decreased significantly in the last decade. Women are excelling at starting up successful businesses yet of the 5.5m SMEs (small to medium-sized enterprises) operating in the UK today, still only 20% (1.14m in total) are led by women. The gap between the number of male and female entrepreneurs may be closing, but it still exists.

Investment in women’s enterprise also remains low considering evidence that we are more likely to start businesses that are successful in the long-term. We’ve responded by forming investment groups and clubs – like Addidi Angels – to help fill the funding gap for talented entrepreneurs. Given the success of women entrepreneurs and the UK’s increasing dependence on SMEs for economic growth, this is simply good business.

The female entrepreneurs we work with put their values at the core of their business or define themselves as social entrepreneurs. Implicit in this is a sustainable approach to business that doesn’t focus solely on a profit-at-all-cost agenda. By giving back and treading lightly when it comes to environment and communities, female entrepreneurs are redressing the balance in our business ecosystem. This is hugely important for transforming business – culture and impact – in the long term.

We can do more to support each other. We want women to take the lead here and invest in enterprising women. We can use our economic power to help each other succeed and this will encourage the wider investment community to choose female enterprise too. This is how we’ll change the game.

Business leaders push through

As well as the increase in female entrepreneurs in recent years, the rise in women’s directorial roles in big business is impressive. In the last quarter of 2018, the milestone 30% quota for women on FTSE 100 boards was surpassed. This exceeds the target set in the 2011 governmental report that required a minimum of 25% female representation on boards.

That’s great news and the trend is also being matched in the FTSE 250, in which 62 companies have reached 30% representation of women, with only 9 men-only boards remaining, down from 131 in 2010.

Looking across different sectors in FTSE 100 companies, female representation on boards has also changed quite dramatically in the past 10 years. In 2007, there were no women on the boards of companies in the construction sector, and only 4% in manufacturing. Both sectors are now operating at or above the government’s target of 25%, with representation of 29% and 25% respectively.

However, some business sectors remain stubbornly excluding of female talent at all levels. My own sector tops that particular list. We all know that greater gender diversity leads to stronger financial performance, more constructive discussions and encourages disruptive thinking – which is essential for innovation.

While the Women in Finance Charter may have highlighted diversity issues, the financial sector is not acting fast enough to capitalize on the ‘diversity dividend’. It’s hard to understand how the sector will attract top talent in the future if it doesn’t take the opportunity to make positive change now.

Self-employment for flexibility and fulfilment

Self-employment is on the rise. Between 2008 and 2016 women accounted for over 80% of the new self-employed.
There are clear reasons why women are choosing this way of working. Flexibility around other responsibilities including childcare, are obvious practical benefits.

Many women choose to start up their own businesses in order to have more meaning in their
work and it is this combination of purpose and balance that motivates women to choose self-employment.

FSB (National Federation of Self Employed and Small Businesses) members report that self-employment has made a big difference in their lives – 61% said that changing how they worked has helped them to achieve a much better work/life balance, while 79% said that they greatly value having independence at work. 51% said that self-employment had given them the ability to fulfil a personal vision9.

Often corporate cultures simply don’t work for women. But self-employment isn’t the right solution for everyone. Inflexibility from employers, poor workplace cultures and financial necessity can force women into ‘involuntary’ self-employment, when it feels like the only option left. This is far from ideal but not uncommon.

The power of the ripple effect

Most of us have thankfully moved on from mimicking the worst of 1980s male behaviour in the workplace as our recipe for success. Whether you are a business leader, self-employed or an entrepreneur how you behave at work matters and has a profound effect on the culture.

It feels right to bring a sisterly, generous set of behaviours to other women in business. By extending a supportive hand to each other, we can lead by example and change the dynamics of business culture. It is up to us to take individual responsibility for setting positive, inclusive behaviours and defining expectations at work.

In a large corporate the impact of a woman taking more flexible working arrangements without compromising on her pay package sends a powerful message to other women in the company. The same is true when we extend a helping hand to a colleague, employee or business partner. If we shy away from these opportunities and conversations we are passing up on the opportunity to create positive change for other working women.

Forging powerful partnerships

Changing culture is difficult. We can’t do it on our own. Sharing our experiences is where the process begins but we need cooperation from powerful, like-minded men too in order to make deep, lasting changes. Respecting a culture’s values even as we push for new ideas and practices to be adopted is important.

It’s through communication, collaboration and cooperation that we’ll make the most profound and positive difference which will benefit all of us.

We are beginning to shape a different, inclusive and more balanced ecosystem and that’s exciting. We need to draw inspiration from each other to keep up the momentum for positive change.

Making ‘me’ time this Valentines Day

February 14th is here again and love is in the air.

Valentine’s Day often splits opinion; considered either a time to show your love and affection for others or another chance for retailers to take your hard-earned money! Whether you’re a die-hard romantic, a cynic or single, you can’t argue that a little bit of love makes the world go round and taking the time to tell someone how much you love them is certainly no bad thing.
However, what about taking some time for yourself?

It’s no secret that we are living increasingly busy lives.

Stress, anxiety and poor mental health is an everyday reality for thousands of people and a growing issue for employers and society as a whole. A 2017 government report found that poor mental health has an annual cost to employers of between £33 billion and £42 billion.

‘Career burnout’ is becoming an ever-more present scenario, especially for those who have reached the top of their game.

And it seems that working women are particularly susceptible to stress; females in full-time employment are nearly twice as likely to have a common mental health problem as full-time employed men (19.8% vs 10.9%).

Could it be that in our attempts to ‘have it all’, we’re putting ourselves at increased risk? In trying to keep our families cared for, our homes immaculate, our relationships intact and our careers on track, we’re juggling so many balls at the same time that it’s a constant drain.

So what steps can you take to invest in yourself – reducing the strain on your time and the pressure on your already stretched resources?

Re-evaluate
The need to move onto the next thing is inherent in some of us – so we find ourselves always striving to achieve and do more. So when you’ve worked hard to make it to a certain level in your job or field, yet you’re still not happy, this can lead to feelings of despair. Sometimes, it can take a ‘wake-up call’ to realise that what you thought you wanted to achieve isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. If this sounds familiar, don’t rush into any decisions; take some time to talk to those around you that you trust and put together a step-by-step plan that will help you achieve the ultimate goal – happiness.

Seek out support
We all need someone to reassure us and fall back on if we need – it’s human nature. If your employer isn’t supportive (or you’re your own boss!), look for others who may be able to offer the support you need from a professional perspective, such as a mentor or a peer. Having a solid support network in your personal life is vital too – and be sure not to take help from friends or family for granted.

Work out where your time is ‘going’
You’ll often read that it’s important to ‘make time’ for yourself through the course of a week. But if you’re already stretched to the limit and burning the candles at both ends, this can seem like an impossibility. Try keeping a detailed diary for a few weeks and analyse it afterwards, highlighting the areas where your time ‘disappears’ the most. Once you’ve done this, find a way to relieve this pressure on your time. At work, this might mean getting an extra pair of hands with a PA, virtual assistant or administrator. At home, you might look to get in some help, or else delegate jobs better within the household. Once you’ve been able to free up some time, be sure to spend it doing something you love or benefit from.

Make wiser choices
You can’t add extra hours to a day, but it is possible to spend the time you have more effectively. You can choose to spend 15 minutes on your way to work catching up on social media, or else you could choose to spend this time practicing meditation or mindfulness.

Learning to recognise say ‘no’ to things that aren’t a good use of your time is a skill that doesn’t come naturally but can be developed.

So as well as demonstrating your love for your nearest and dearest this Valentine’s Day, how about giving yourself a little bit more ‘me time’? We all take our mental health for granted when things are going well, but anyone who’s suffered from stress or anxiety will tell you that it really is worth spending time and effort investing in.

Making the commitment to financial fitness in 2019

After the exuberance of the festive period, many of us start the New Year with a new found commitment to getting fit and healthy. January is well-known as being one of the busiest times of the year for gyms – both in terms of new memberships and existing members stepping up their attendance.

We’re not here to tell you not to get that expensive gym membership – staying physically fit is an important part of overall wellbeing and if you’ll use it, investing in such luxuries is well worth it.

In fact our advice is to take it a step further – and put some time and effort into your personal financial fitness.

Here are some key steps to getting – and staying – financially fit for the year ahead.

Set a baseline

Before commencing any new programme of physical activity, it’s sensible to get a base reading on your current level of fitness, so you can monitor any progression you make.

The same applies to your personal finances – it’s important to have a full picture of what you have to be able to make a comprehensive plan to take forward.

Go for goal

Having a goal in mind when working on your fitness can help to provide a real impetus. Perhaps you have a significant date or event in the diary that you want to work towards, or maybe you have a target weight you want to reach. Setting goals makes your training more personal to you, also allowing you to break your time down into measurable and manageable stages.

When we engage in discussion with a potential new client, goals is one of the key areas we focus on. In order to develop a financial plan that is right for an individual, we need to know where they want to get to and by when. Personal goals can vary hugely from person to person and aligning financial goals with personal goals may involve some work. Goals may change over time as circumstances develop; but starting off in the right direction initially will form the basis on which future plans can be built upon.

Get professional help

Undertaking physical training or exercise under your own steam is commendable, especially if you are able to remain motivated and stick to your training schedule. However, many people find themselves losing momentum after a while, needing the extra boost that can be provided by the likes of personal trainers.

Similarly, a financial adviser can help to develop a financial plan – and help you stick to it – so you can be confident you’re on the right track. Whilst you may be happy looking after bank accounts, savings plans, investment and pensions etc to a certain degree, a financial adviser will be able to take this a step further so you know you are making the most out of your financial circumstances.

Tracking

Undertaking exercise is one thing, but being able to monitor your progression and look back over your fitness achievements is both rewarding and motivating. These days, tracking your activity has never been easier. Be it reaching a specific step count in a day or hitting a certain heart rate, tracking devices are readily available.

Putting the right measures in place to monitor your financial situation and the performance of your investments can be equally as attainable with the right guidance. Engaging a financial adviser for the first time can be somewhat of a leap of faith, but once you can start to see returns, and the power these have when reinvested, regular reviews of your portfolio can become both enjoyable and exciting.

If 2019 is the year you want to take you financial fitness to the next level, the team at Addidi can help.

Anna Sofat: The Rise of Women’s Wealth

The rise of women’s wealth

Becoming the breadwinner
There have been huge changes in women’s lives in recent decades and we’ve become an economic force to be reckoned with. In the UK we’re setting up and running successful businesses at an astonishing rate1, more women are moving up the corporate ladder and becoming business leaders or we’re choosing the flexibility of self-employment as a route to our financial independence.

The number of us taking the lead as the main earner in our households has more than doubled in the last ten years2. We’ve come such a long way and it’s a trend that’s going to continue3. Of course our new wealth comes with challenges, but as we take our rightful places at the table, we have an exciting opportunity to change the culture of wealth and shape a fairer more balanced future for the next generation.

It’s complicated….
Many men and women we know and love will testify that being the main earner can be a mixed blessing. The relationship with our new role and rising wealth is complicated. Some of us are finding the support we need to get the balance right – but for many women the demands, responsibilities and compromises are difficult to balance.

Even if we are happy to take the lead in providing for our family’s financial needs, we can feel conflicted about the choices we’re making. The ‘invisible labour’ of care and family demands can leave us simply too busy or exhausted to enjoy the journey we’re on. A Workplace Benefits report from Bank of America Merril Lynch published in Forbes magazine at the end of last year pointed out that women are much more susceptible to serious anxiety, stress, fear and guilt about meeting the financial needs and expectations of family and society4.

We want women to enjoy their success and lead happier, healthier, more balanced lives.
We know it’s possible and it’s why Janardan and I started Addidi and why Addidi prioritises women.

A new girl gang: changing the narrative
Women are competitive and that’s fine – we’ve needed to be to get this far. However, one just needs to go online or engage with the media to see what a hard time we’re giving each other. Motherhood, as it relates to our working lives and our attitudes to wealth, can be a particular flashpoint among women from diverse backgrounds.

Put simply, we’re having trouble reconciling our different roles and we’re in danger of losing our compassion, never mind our balance, as we struggle to deal with our own experience, bias and feelings. Giving as good as we get can only get us so far and it won’t change the status quo.

Respecting personal choices, regardless of our own circumstances and views will create a better climate for debate and more future-focused conversation. We can focus on what’s important to us, together, and change the narrative from conflict to cooperation, one conversation at a time.

Supporting and celebrating eachother’s achievements, as we navigate complex times, keeps morale high. Good examples and successful collaborations will only yield more.

Fairness: closing the earnings gap
It’s no wonder that women have been starting businesses as a route to securing independence, flexibility and a better work-life balance5, given the slow pace of change in the wider workplace. Exciting as it is to see women entrepreneurs succeeding, it certainly isn’t for everyone and it’s not enough to drive the broader change in working culture that we need to see.

While fair pay isn’t necessarily a gender issue – it is an important battle that we need to keep fighting. It’s about addressing the root cause of inequality that starts in the boardroom and ripples out to wider society. We’re all bored of reading headlines about the obscene and widening pay gap in FTSE 100 companies and beyond8.
How about some more headlines in 2019 about how much value diversity throughout an organisation adds and how much productivity and wellness are improved for all workers when the pay gap narrows6?

Employers must step up and support women to make change from within. There is an opportunity here for companies to really differentiate themselves in terms of talent development as well as attracting and retaining women. Meeting women’s diverse needs at all levels in an organization makes good business sense and raises the bar for everyone6,7.

We’d urge younger working women in particular to continue to scrutinise pay differential indicators as part of their assessment of whether or not a company or organisation is a good and suitable employer, or not.

Let’s make 2019 the year when we say enough is enough and ask female leaders and executives to take the lead in championing change. Publishing board room packages and salaries is one way of increasing transparency and offering to take pay cuts or adjustments in the boardroom – rather than asking for more – is a great way forward.

Bringing who we are to work

Communication, collaboration and cooperation are vitally important when there is so much conflict between and around us. Women bring unique and varied attributes to business and leadership and we can use our talents to create positive change in the workplace and beyond.

Bringing emotional intelligence, sensitivity and skills to work is really important. They influence our behaviours and the kinds of culture we create. If we are authentic, then others can be too. A climate of mutual respect, where individuals can say it as they see it, makes for a rewarding and authentic experience for everyone and the kind of balanced ecosystem in which we all thrive.

The more we share the stories of our experience, the easier this becomes. We can change the culture of wealth and improve the quality of our own lives as we strive for a better, fairer and more sustainable future for us all. We believe that’s worth fighting for.

Let’s not forget to enjoy the journey together.

References and sources

1. For female entrepreneurs, the UK leads the way: recent research by the Economist Intelligence Unit found 26% of high net worth women surveyed in the UK are business owners, which is a higher share than women, or men, in any other surveyed region. Economist Intelligence Unit and Royal Bank of Canada Global Survey
2. Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report, 2018
3. Kantar 2017 Winning over women report.
4. Workplace Benefits report, Bank of America Merril Lynch published in Forbes magazine, 2018
5. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2017 report (GEM 2017) launched July 2018.
6. Since 2011, investments into companies with no female directors on their board average £2.9m, whereas adding a single female board member corresponds with a typical increase of £500,000. Aston University research
7.Amanda Weinstein. Harvard Business Review. Jan. 31, 2018. “When More Women Join the Workforce, Wages Rise — Including for Men.” https://hbr.org/2018/01/when-more-women-join-the-workforce-wages-rise-including-for-men
8. Analysis by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the High Pay Centre showing chief executives of FTSE 100 companies are paid an average of £898 per hour – 256 times what apprentices earn on the minimum wage. The Guardian, 3rd January 2019.

Anna Sofat: The future of ‘Fat Cat Friday’​ is in our hands

Another day, another headline that causes outrage but still the facts don’t change – the 6 female CEOs of FTSE 100 companies earn half as much as their male counterparts. So what, I ask myself for the umpteenth time, can we do to combat the gender pay gap?

The first thing I will say is that creating more tick boxes with obvious loop holes is not the answer. Fat cat Friday leaves a bad taste in my mouth for many reasons, most notably the fact that the average CEO earns a shocking 133 times more than the average worker. The gap has more than doubled over the past 30 years whilst the average salary has barely kept pace with inflation.

Whilst this brings about questions of ethics and social responsibility what we all forget, is that it also impacts the bottom line. This kind of unprecedented growth in salary is often not reflected in growing profits, and at time defies any logical reason.

Having worked in the business and financial landscape for some 30 years now, it is unsurprising to me that issues of lack of good governance and egotistical politics get in the way of even the savviest businesses making responsible decisions. We have allowed the culture of wealth and business to become ugly and increasingly unfair.

Whilst I don’t have all the answers, or a quick fix to overcome this widespread crisis, I have always believed change can come from the majority, and we don’t have to wait for the leaders to act. When the little decisions made by thousands of people on a daily basis alter, the world changes. This gives me hope that despite the endless stream of cash and influence that the c-suite possesses, it is in the hands of us, the majority, to rectify.

The good news is that there is a growing number of women at the top and younger entrepreneurs, and I am confident that their impact will be a positive one for the future of business. With diversity comes success and I hope that my vision for a more equal and sustainable future isn’t too far away.

A Christmas note from Anna Sofat

As 2018 draws to a close, it’s time to take a look back over what has been a year of ups and downs.

The year seemed to begin with a flourish – the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote was upon us and there seemed to be a real desire for change and progress for women. As the year went on, some of this momentum slipped, and as the results of gender pay gap reporting starting to unfold and the latest Women on Boards statistics were revealed, it became apparent that not as much progress has been made as we would like. The government has set out its agenda for the Hampton-Alexander review and it will be interesting to see how this progresses into 2019.
So far as the economy is concerned, the first few months of the year largely continued in the same vein as the past couple of years, with sustained growth in the markets translating into some great gains for client portfolios. As political uncertainty around Brexit began to unfold, along with concerns over international trade, we’ve returned to a period of volatility. During such times, it’s important to take a long-term view; we’ve been through periods of instability before and come out better for it – you only need to look back a few years to the Global Financial Crisis!

2018 has also been a special year for Addidi as we marked our ten year anniversary. We were able to celebrate the milestone with many of our clients in October, alongside launching our new website and ‘Voice of Women’s Wealth’ campaign.

Amongst the madness of the festive season, it’s always important to try and take the time to reflect. As a financial adviser, I come across the good and the bad of money and the effect it has on people. Money doesn’t always bring happiness, despite what people think, and using wealth to try and bring happiness, either to yourself or to others, is a message we are keen to impart on our clients. It’s no coincidence that we use the words ‘create’, ‘invest’ and ‘enjoy’ when communicating with clients. We help clients to create wealth, by giving them a plan and helping them to implement it. We then provide the tools for clients to invest, ideally to give them a sustainable income for the longer term. Thereafter it’s time to enjoy what you have worked hard to achieve.

This festive season, Addidi has taken the step of making our annual charitable donation. When we set up the business, we decided that we would donate 1% of our annual turnover to charitable causes. This is a promise we have been able to stick to, picking a number of charities to split the donations across at the end of our financial year at the beginning of April. In this, our tenth year, this percentage has grown to a not-insignificant sum. Having seen the homeless crisis on our streets worsening over the past 12 months in particular, we have taken the decision to donate 25% of our annual charity fund to Crisis; giving them a boost as the winter starts to kick in.

So as we head towards the festive season and the start of a New Year, maybe we should all take some time out to think what wealth is really about. Having wealth isn’t about being wealthy. It isn’t about extravagant gifts or grand gestures. Sometimes, true wealth is simply about using what you have in the most meaningful way.
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2019.

– Anna