Here is how women can inspire financial inclusion for themselves

It’s 2024! And we are still talking about how women can be inspired to include themselves in financial matters. Money and women are the two strongest things in the world. Yet, women are not able to channelize their energies to control their money! A change in mindset, continuously earning and taking the right risk with their investments are three things which can inspire financial inclusion for women.

Women have various mind blocks on money-men can do it better, fear of loss, fear of being judged and the biggest one of treating their earnings as secondary and spending it. This needs to radically change. Economically independent women need to stop depending upon men in the family to support them financially or take care of their finances. In fact, they need to start sharing financial responsibilities. Men, too, feel pressured to take care of family financial goals single-handedly!

Women do not allow the society to define beauty standards,

women are confident of raising families alone, working in highly specialized, technical jobs and so much more, yet when it comes to money, they lack confidence. Self-doubt harms more than failure ever will! It is not like one always wins in all aspects of life. There are ups and downs and it is the same with money. Even if there is a loss, remember that every day is a new beginning. Take a deep breath, smile and start again.

Having financial independence and achieving it early is a dream for most people. But it cannot be attained without investing regularly, for which earning and saving enough is important. This means women need to continue and not take career breaks unless they have no choice. It may sound harsh but the choice is between being the master of one’s time to money being one’s master.

Almost all surveys across the world point to women being conservative investors with low allocation to inflation beating instruments like equities. Multiple options within equites like stocks, stock baskets, mutual funds, PMS etc. and all the stories about other investors making 30-40% p.a. returns in short periods, make choosing equities difficult.

Under such circumstances, mutual funds work out to be the best option. Identifying stocks from over 5,000 listed stocks, monitoring them and being able to get the exit right is best left to experts. People wanting some excitement in their investments can allocate a small amount for stocks but must be ready to lose capital. The majority of the core portfolio must be invested in mutual funds, based on financial goals and holding period.

Index funds which mirror an index like Nifty 50 or Sensex, and flexi-cap funds which have exposure to large, mid and small size companies are a good starting point. If the risk tolerance is lower, balanced advantage funds, or BAFs, which allocate and rebalance between equity and debt based on quantitative parameters are a good choice.

It would do good to spend time acquiring knowledge on per- sonal finance and reading the fine print carefully.

Investors are guiled by seeing high returns being advertised on stock baskets and trading strategies, similar sounding products from insurance companies and much more. Given that there is no standardization on advertising criteria or reporting returns across all investment products in India, reading the fine print is imperative.

Women need to define their investment strategy based on research and not based on short videos on social media. Much of the advice online may not have all information about the risks involved in a particular product and often doesn’t give the right picture.

Remaining invested is a virtue and is what builds wealth in the long term. It is tempting to exit well performing equity funds but investors face the risk of not being able to rede- ploy the funds correctly due to attempts at timing the markets or looking for other investments with high expected returns. Historical data shows that profit booking interrupts compounding and results in lower returns. Choosing right as per goals and staying put is the mantra to building wealth.

Inspire inclusion with a few mindset changes. Happy Women’s Day!

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