There’s no denying it, investing is an industry largely dominated by men. But increasingly, women are breaking through the many barriers standing in their way to become part of this previously ‘exclusive’ club. Among them is Michelle Pearce-Burke, CIO and co-founder of Wealthify, who is on a mission to make investing accessible to everybody. We asked her 5 questions about her investment story and what it takes for woman to get into investing.
What got you into investing?
When I was a child, I used to play a free online game, called Neopets (which still exists today!). The aim was to collect as many ‘neopoints’ as possible by playing games and creating a shop. One way for the pets to prosper was through the game’s virtual stock market. With Neopets, I learnt how exciting markets could be and it certainly planted a seed in my 10-year old brain.
I wanted to take what I learnt into the real world, so I bought my first shares when I was just 11 years old! It was just a small stake in a then up and coming biotech company, but sadly it didn’t perform as well as I wished. That taught me a valuable lesson and showed me that it’s not a good idea to put all your eggs in the same basket.
What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?
Don’t be concerned about what other people are doing or thinking. There’s a particular saying that I love, and I try to live by: ‘The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself.’
What advice would you give to a young woman thinking of a career in investing?
Go for it!
You shouldn’t be put off by the very stereotypical perception often attached to the industry. Times are changing, and most workspaces are shifting to be more inclusive to women, offering equal opportunities and pay.
If you do end up in one of the more traditional firms filled with men in grey suits, use your differences to your advantage. Don’t try to be like them – the time to be a woman is now!
Do you have any tips for women who’d like to invest?
Women make great investors: we’re patient, rational and have a natural ability to think and plan long term, which are all excellent traits for successful investing.
Too often women are put off from investing because we are naturally more cautious. We have a very protective attitude towards money. We think of it as the family money, even if we’ve earned it, so understandably, we don’t take much risk. Instead, we try to protect and save what we have, without realising that such attitude could be hurting our financial wellbeing.
At present, over three quarters of UK investors are male, which represents a worrying imbalance in the state of the nation’s finances. While men’s money is being put to work on the financial markets, women’s money is much more likely to be sitting in cash savings, with less chance to grow as it’s being eroded by inflation over the long term.
By avoiding the investing arena, women are missing out and potentially undermining their financial future, so it’s important to encourage them to get involved and that’s one of the main reasons I created Wealthify – to help women like me, with smaller sums of money to be able to easily and affordably access investing services that don’t blind them with jargon. That way, they’re more likely to feel comfortable with their money being invested and managed by experts.
Which female role model most inspires you?
I feel inspired by the people I meet in the real world, rather than a single person whom I’ll probably never meet. It’s so easy to put someone you don’t know on a pedestal!
There are so many female entrepreneurs I meet with all the time who are doing their bit, in their own way, to change the world for the better. They inspire me to push forward with my own projects and to carry on working to break down the barriers to a better financial future for women.
Please remember the value of your investments can go down as well as up, and you could get back less than invested.