One of my best girlfriends in Calgary recently informed me she's thinking of investing some of her hard-earned teaching salary. In the eight years I've been lucky enough to know her, she's never expressed any real interest in personal finance.
Case in point: I once tried to help her create a spending plan and get her on track by asking her to list three ways she could bring more money into her life. Her No. 1: Buy more lottery tickets. Bless her.
She didn't care much for investing, either. She thought it was overwhelming and intimidating, and since she thought she didn't have any money to spare, pretty uninspiring. Then she ducked into a showroom for a private equity firm while shopping one day at Eau Claire Market, and a light bulb went off. I knew something clicked when she asked me what I thought about fixed-income bond funds.
The part-showroom, part-classroom concept is the first of its kind in Western Canada. Touring the showroom of OmniArch Capital Group is similar to touring the showroom of a preconstruction condominium site. Available investments are laid out, visuals are added for clarity and simplicity, and a professional is on hand to chat. This seems to be helping new investors, especially female investors, demystify the investment process.
"We've seen a surge of investors wanting to diversify their portfolios with alternative investments but, over the last three years, our industry has been tainted by lack of transparency, and this has led to investors not being able to make full and comprehensive decisions. If you're investing your money, you should be educated, comfortable and connected to those managing your investments," says Arti Modi, managing director of the firm.
As a young female investor herself, Ms. Modi, 30, thought it was worth exploring whether any reluctance women have to invest may have something to do with insecurity and lack of knowledge and transparency when it comes to investing. So she went about co-creating a space and investment opportunities that are transparent.
Research shows women tend to take a backseat when it comes to investing, letting someone else - an employer, advisor or partner - make their decisions. Even though women make the majority of the household spending decisions, they are less likely than men to describe themselves as being confident and knowledgeable about investing.
Confidence in any area grows with practice and knowledge. And if there's a new investor in your life or you're hoping to help create a new investor, then it's all about relating to them using their own language.
It's also about baby steps. I've suggested my girlfriend hop onto www.meetup.com and search for others who share her newfound interest in investing. Since she's a joiner and runs with a running group, this is a good fit. I've also set her up to follow financial gurus on her Twitter feed, originally set up to follow her beloved Kelly Ripa. Plus, she has committed to add financial blogs to her daily online activity to expand her knowledge, gather tips, and make her newfound investment spark burn brighter. I have a feeling it will, and maybe from now on she'll list her No. 1 way to make money as smart investing instead of the lottery.
Learn more about investing from John Heinzl The 2010 Investor Education series for beginner investors:
The 2010 Investor Education series for advanced investors:
Gail Bebee's weekly mentoring for our investor education contest winner: