Bridging the confidence gap to empower women financially

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Bridging the confidence gap to empower women financially

Women Confidence Gap

There are mixed statistics available that cite the number of women that invest in property. Some are as low as 30%, others as high as 47% of all investors.  Regardless of this figure, it has become clear that women of all ages should be taking control of their financial futures and taking the steps to empower themselves with relevant knowledge to ensure they have the confidence to make decisions and take action. Of course, the earlier in life that they do that, the better, but it’s never too late!

According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies there has been a 44% increase in the number of older women seeking homelessness services since 2012. Close to 10,000 older women have accessed services this financial year making women over 55 the fastest growing group among the homeless. Government statistics forecast that half a million women will fall into housing stress in the next two decades. Reasons for this can vary because, of course, everyone’s circumstances are individual to their situation. But some common scenarios behind these statistics for women include: a death of their partner, divorce, domestic violence and a lack of superannuation due to the increase in casual and part-time employment and/or time out of the workforce to raise children. This is evident, according to The Workplace Gender Equality Agency which states the average super balances for men are $198,000 as opposed to $112,600 for women.

A survey by Finder found that the number one mistake nominated by women was letting their partner control the finances. According to the ABS there were 46,604 divorces in 2016, of which 50% involve children under 18 years. The median age of women who divorce is 42.2, with most women likely to spend at least a part of the life on their own, because they either never marry, get divorced or become widowed. It stands to reason that women should be looking to empower themselves financially no matter what the age or relationship status and they should be educating theirdaughters of all ages about finance and investing to help improve these statistics for the future. What needs to be done for this to occur?

Kathy Murphy, the President of Personal Investing at Fidelity Investments, has written extensively about the confidence gap that exists for women in the workplace and suggests that this transfers to investing and personal finance. If a lack of confidence can influence the trust one has in one’s ability to try and hence succeed, then this lack of confidence can result in a lack of action. No action, no change.

Education and reliable, unbiased information can be drivers of change and help fill this confidence gap, enabling women to feel empowered to take control of their own finances, regardless of their age or relationship status. The right education can give them the ability to take calculated, well informed risks.

So, what can women do to flex their confidence muscle when it comes to investing in property?


Understand Property Cycles

Every city and town has its own property cycle. Some have experienced exceptional growth in the last five years, others have been stagnant, while others have even gone backwards. Traditionally, if you purchase a property in a market at the top of the cycle it will experience a 4 to 7 year correction period with price stagnation or in some instances negative growth (5 to 10 years for regional centres). If, on the other hand, you purchase a property in a market at the bottom of the cycle, traditionally what you will experience is 7 years of growth (5 to 10 years for regional centres).

By understanding these cycles and investing at the bottom of the market you can potentially take advantage of the short to medium term growth. Otherwise, your chosen asset may see minimal to no capital growth for 4 to 7 years.


Empower Yourself with Knowledge

You don’t know what you don’t know, but you can build an arsenal of knowledge by reading property books and listening to podcasts. Read to understand the different property strategies, from a variety of authors who are property investors themselves. Learn about other peoples’ mistakes, so you know what not to do. Read and listen to as much as possible so you can distinguish between advice from experts and a sales pitch. Feel free to reach out to me for some book and podcast recommendations.


Get Expert Advice

Seek out investment advice that is unbiased, well informed and backed by solid research. Journalists are not qualified property experts, they are qualified journalists and their job is to write. Your well intentioned family and friends may also not be the right place to get advice. And finally, beware the property spruiker and off the plan marketer. They are not offering you advice, they are trying to sell you something.


Only Invest in Quality, In-Demand Assets

Demand will impact capital growth prospects and also the ability to secure the right tenant quickly. When looking at a city or town to invest in, ensure the population is increasing and that fundamental indicators exist to support future growth, such as low unemployment and spending on infrastructure. On a property level, never buy a house and land package or an off the plan apartment as an investment. Consider properties that are scarce, with character and that are in demand by tenants and purchasers alike.


Remove All Emotion from Your Investment Decisions

Buying an investment property is very different to buying a home to live in. Investing should be all about the numbers and whether they stack up to suggest you are making a sound investment decision. The goal of investing in property should be to make money; it’s not about the colour of the walls or whether you like the kitchen.

If your time is best spent focusing on your zone of genius (if for you that is not researching and educating yourself on property markets), then engage a trusted property advisor. One who is a successful investor in their own right, who doesn’t shy away from answering all your questions and who is educated and not just a failed real estate agent turned buyer’s agent.