THE SUNDAY INTERVIEW Magazine

Money wise

Aditi Kothari

Aditi Kothari

It doesn’t take much to be able to throw around words like investment portfolio, equity, debentures, mutual funds in your regular conversation and actually know what they mean. But more than showing off your skills in taking care of your money, for women it is also a matter of achieving true empowerment — to have a say on your money and to be responsible for its growth.

Women are never fully independent until they learn to handle their own finances. “Women get more confident when they have control over their finances,” feels Aditi Kothari, Executive VP, DSP Blackrock Investment Managers. Armed with a Wharton and Harvard education, Aditi is one of the few women who have managed to carve a name in the world of finance.

According to Aditi, financial investment is not as bad as women tend to think. And to prove just that, she started the Winvestor initiative of DSP BlackRock MF that reaches out to women investors and helps them on their way to financial independence through specialised services.

Aditi talks to The Hindu about why women need to break the ice on the subject of investments.

What prompted you to start this initiative?

It was the outcome of a lot of personal incidents — interactions with friends who kept wanting advice on what I think they should do with their money; single or divorced women who suddenly realise that they have to take care of their finance. It is about helping them achieve true financial independence, when traditionally it is the husband or father who manages the woman’s money.

Is it a question of lack of awareness about investments?

I think women are just not interested because they think it’s too tough; that it’s a numbers game and they are no good with numbers. They are intimidated by it. At a sub-conscious level, I think, they are scared to do it on their own. But eventually, when women start seeing the returns on their investments they will understand that it is not rocket science.

In many families, it is the men who handle women’s finances — which sometimes becomes a form of control. So it is hard for a woman to tell her husband or father that she wants to start handling her money. We should also create awareness on “how to do the money talk?”

Investment is largely seen as a male purview. How do you think this can change?

It needs to start right from school. Youngsters should be taught about personal finance at the high school level. Teach them the different types of investments. Also, I feel women need to take the initiative to learn about it before going in for investments. There are a lot of educational videos and material available online that you can go through. You just need to understand the basics.

How is a woman investor different from her male counterpart?

First, they have different goals. Women tend to have specific goals and ideas as to why they want with their money, while for men it’s like a challenge where they try to put in and make more money than they did the previous time. This leads men to be more risk-embracing, while women are risk-averse and hence they prefer safer investment options. Also, women retire earlier than men, even temporarily at times because they take a break to have children. So this also needs to be taken into consideration during financial planning.

Globally speaking, do women investors differ across regions?

Personally, I think they all have the same problems. Once when I was talking to the wife of one of the founders of DSP in New York, I realised that women there have similar issues with investments too. A unique aspect is that the divorce rates there is almost 50 per cent, and thus there are a lot of women who come into money by way of alimony and have no idea what to do with it. They are as clueless as our women here just that the scale is different.

How can women prepare themselves for financial planning?

Know the basics — learn about the different types of investments

Zero in on a goal. She needs to understand what does she want the money for — to buy a car? To help her husband? To buy a pair of gold earrings? To save up for the future? For a holiday?

Meet up with your financial advisor. Talk to him/her and ask a lot of questions about the investments they are proposing.

If you think they are being too pushy or proposing something too risky, simply ask them to back off. You don’t have to comply with their ideas.

Be honest with your financial advisor about your requirements, risk-tolerance and capacity.

Take all your financial papers with you – you may have inherited some stocks or have an insurance policy — take them all.

And, most importantly, always meet your financial advisor alone the first time.


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Printable version | May 20, 2022 1:06:31 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/features/magazine/money-wise/article6204084.ece