Feminine touch

The JSE’s She Invests Arena is tailored to educate women on investment choices

Feminine touch

Dealing with money can be stressful, which is one of the major reasons why women tend to have a low engagement with financial markets. Amid all the other priorities that a woman has to cope with, not least of which is competing in a male-dominated space for equal pay, equal recognition and achieving a healthy family/work balance, managing money is not always a priority. Yet it should be, says Elaine Mabiletsa, JSE Manager: Currency Derivatives.

She explains that financial literacy is not so much about the ability to understand how money works, but more about acquiring a set of skills and knowledge that allows women to make effective decisions about their financial future. ‘Without doubt, women have innumerable challenges that they constantly have to overcome. But to gain financial independence, they need to deeply understand the risks and opportunities that contribute or hinder the achievement of that goal,’ she says. ‘There are many lists and advice resources that can enlighten in this regard, but one of the most significant paradigm shifts a woman has to make is to become smarter in creating investments that empower their life choices.’

Financial literacy is a strategy that can be used to induce a change in behaviour, and not only for the woman herself, but also her partner and family. With the cost of living increasing more than earnings today, women have become a life-changing contributor to managing households. ‘She is no longer purely the family care-giving investor, but an enabler of future security,’ says Mabiletsa. ‘When she understands finances, it empowers her position so that she has a better sense of knowing how to ask for what she wants, and allows her to be immersed in the decision-making process that supports the financial well-being of her first priority, which is more often than not family.’

Mabiletsa admits that the manner in which financial services and products are delivered today – on- and offline – does come with an overwhelming amount of information, compounded by trying to grasp the complexities of investment platforms within time constraints and pressures.

‘This is why the She Invests Arena, an annual event created last year by the JSE, is framed to unpack and demystify stock exchange investment, and encourage financial freedom for women,’ she says. ‘Various financial specialists lift the veil on how to go about investing, what financial freedom really means and how to achieve it, and more importantly how and where to invest. It’s targeted at all levels of financial literacy, with the takeaways being that women will acquire knowledge about the value of financial control, and how to plan and choose investment packages that speak to their individual circumstances.’

Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are one such product offered by the JSE, and highlighted as a good start for women beginning their investment journey on the exchange. ‘It’s a low-risk yet cost-effective product that tracks a selected basket of shares, bonds or money, or a single commodity like gold or diamonds,’ says Mabiletsa. ‘When these investment assets perform well, the value of the ETF increases.’

The real beauty of ETFs are that they are hassle-free investment decisions and qualify for certain tax exemptions. All that’s required is to become a client of any of the JSE-registered brokers, yet another aspect that women are introduced to at the annual JSE She Invests Arena, which will be held this year on 10 August. ‘The JSE is positioned as an enabler for expanding access to financial markets,’ says Mabiletsa. ‘And that is as true and equal for women as it is for our male counterparts and business enterprises.’

By Kerry Dimmer
Image: Gallo/Getty Images