For women entering the financial services sector – or even just coming to terms with their own financial situation – few things are as important as having a relatable mentor to guide you.
More and more, women are having to step up to manage money for themselves and their families. According to a recent Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) report, Financial Literacy in South Africa, more women than men were solely responsible for day-to-day money management, and were more likely to be involved by asking others for their input.
However, the research showed the average South African scored just 51 out of 100 on their Financial Knowledge index, a significant decline since the previous testing in 2015. The report suggested that the COVID-19 pandemic had likely increased consumer stress and willingness to become more financially literate, but that this was slowly changing.
Lindi Monyae, Liberty Executive for the Emerging Consumer Market, believes that women have greater access to learning about their finances than ever before.
“Women now have female advisers who can assist them through their financial journey. We also have an opportunity to follow credible experts on social media who provide master classes on financial education, including free blogs and online articles. Additionally, most financial institutions have diverse intermediaries that are trained to provide credible and trusted advice to help you with your financial decisions and needs. As women, we have the resources and opportunity to learn as much as possible to bridge the knowledge gap, all we need to do is to ask for help,” she says.
However, the HSRC report says that most of us often turn to relatives, family, and friends for advice rather than trained experts. “I have learnt that just like we seek professional expertise to treat any physical illness, your finances and career need just as much focused attention, expertise, and seriousness. You need to spend time understanding or diagnosing your issues/challenges, find appropriate solutions and action those with the support and assistance of others. This is not because you can’t do things on your own but because sometimes you need expert help to stay on track to meet your goals,” says Monyae.
“And there is nothing wrong with asking for help.”
Monyae says she often wished she had a mentor, someone trained in finances, when she was first starting her career. “I did not have a financial mentor when I was younger, and I think if I had, it would have saved me from many financial mistakes. Having a financial mentor or even multiple mentors is critical. You should afford yourself the allowance to have an individual who is qualified and accredited to provide advice and provide guidance when you need to make financial decisions. From the smallest ones such as how much to save each month, to making decisions about your retirement and long-term investments,” she says.
The financial knowledge gap, she says, is also affecting the success of women in her industry. In 2021, the proportion of women in leadership roles within financial services firms globally was estimated at 24% and is projected to grow to 28% by 2030, which is still far from fully transformed. Though the industry is making progress on gender diversity in the workforce, there is still much room for growth.
Monyae says that advocating for women in the sector is all about empowering them through financial knowledge, mentorship support, and building better work environments.
She had the following tips that she believes are the first steps in taking back control of your finances:
- Set financial goals for the short and long terms. This helps you to see progress without putting yourself under too much pressure.
- Get professional support and advice from an intermediary.
- Make financial wellness a priority, at the same level of importance as physical wellness, mental wellness, and spiritual wellness.
- Reward yourself for the little wins.
- Track progress often.
- Don’t give up when things don’t go according to plan.
- Don’t compete with anyone except yourself. The Jones’s will do it their way, stick to yours
This article does not constitute tax, legal, financial, regulatory, accounting, technical or other advice. The material has been created for information purpose only and does not contain any personal recommendations. While every care has been taken in preparing this material, no member of Liberty gives any representation, warranty or undertaking and accepts no responsibility or liability as to the accuracy, or completeness, of the information presented. Please consult your Financial Adviser should you require advice of a financial nature and/or intermediary services.