Breaking Free from the “Good Girl” Money Trap [W&S 67 ft Serena Wong & Sharon Sim]

Why Women Don’t Talk About Money (And Why They Should)

In a refreshingly candid discussion, finance professionals Serena Wong and Sharon Sim sat down with podcast hosts Reggie and Dawn to dissect the complex relationship between women and money. Their new book, “Why Women Don’t Talk About Money,” serves as an anthology of 24 women’s deeply personal money stories and explores the emotional hurdles females often face when it comes to finances.

Guest Introductions:

Serena Wong: Head of Advisory at Family Office, Co-Founder of Women in Family Offices, Entrepreneur, Investor, Amazon #1 Author, Podcast Producer & Host.
She is a Singaporean finance expert, has dedicated her entire career to the financial markets and services sectors. With a diverse background in sovereign wealth funds, investment banking, and private wealth management, Serena brings a wealth of knowledge and a deep understanding of money-related topics to the table.

Sharon Sim: Entrepreneur, Investor, Venture Capital GP, Family Office CEO, Author, TV Host, Podcast Series Producer.
She is another veteran finance professional, boasts an impressive 25 years of experience in the field. Having worked at renowned institutions such as Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers, Sharon’s expertise spans wealth management, family offices, and venture capital. Her passion for investing and her extensive financial background make her a valuable voice in the conversation.

Exploring the Book’s Purpose: “Why Women Don’t Talk Money”

Sharon explains, “The title was meant to be provoking, without a question mark – a statement. We wanted to trigger thought around why women don’t openly discuss money.” While comfortable among male peers and family, women often feel shy discussing finances. The authors hope sharing money stories helps women feel more at ease.

The group agrees early money socialization impacts women. As eldest daughters, Serena, and Sharon faced responsibilities shaping their views.

Unveiling the Silence:

During the podcast discussion, Serena and Sharon shed light on the pervasive silence surrounding money conversations among women. They highlighted that while men often freely discuss their financial successes, women tend to shy away from divulging details about their salaries, investments, or negotiations. This silence can be attributed to a lack of comfort and confidence when it comes to money matters.

Understanding the Emotional Connection:

One of the key factors contributing to women’s discomfort with money is their emotional connection to it. Many women feel uncertain, believing that they lack sufficient knowledge or aptitude for finance. Negative self-dialogues often perpetuate these feelings, with phrases like “I’m not good with money” or “I’m not good with numbers” echoing in their minds. The book aims to delve into why these emotions arise and how women can develop healthier relationships with money.

Cultivating a Healthy Money Mindset:

To establish a positive and empowered money mindset, Serena and Sharon emphasized the importance of self-awareness and introspection. By questioning the narratives we internalise about money, both men and women can actively cultivate habits that align with their financial goals. Openly discussing money, celebrating investment successes, negotiating salaries confidently, and seeking financial freedom are among the habits that contribute to a healthy money mindset.

Serena, who has spent her career in sovereign wealth funds, investment banking and private wealth management, opened up about her own deep-rooted insecurities around money stemming from her childhood. “The first memory for me around money is actually one that is very insecure,” she revealed. “My parents are in finance, so they were always talking about volatile financial markets. We went through rough patches with family financial issues, having to sell our house and downsize. Those are very triggering memories that made me feel I need to make money to feel safe.”

Those early experiences shaped Serena’s mindset to want control over her finances from a young age. “A lot of research has shown that for girls, our understanding and relationship with money is really established as early as 7 or 8 years old,” she explained.

Sharon, who previously worked at investment banks like Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers before moving into venture capital, attributed some of women’s complexes around money to the historically male-dominated finance world. “If we look at the classic investment books and figures in the landscape, the finance world is just so male-dominated,” she said. “Without strong female role models, we tend to think investing and excelling with money is not something meant for women.”

Overcoming the Narratives

Both women emphasised that the first step is becoming aware of the narratives females tend to inherit about not being “good with money” or numbers. As Reggie summarised, “It’s really just more about the narratives that we internalise around money. Eventually, as you get more aware, then you cultivate the habits that work for you.”

So what does cultivating healthy money habits look like for women?

The guests listing several striking traits:

  1. Thorough researchers – Women tend to do extensive due diligence, weighing the pros and cons before investing rather than getting carried away by hypes or fads.
  2. Long-term, risk-adjusted mindsets – Studies show women outperform male investors over 5-year periods because they take measured, conservative approaches without making rash, emotional trading decisions.
  3. Values-driven investing – From supporting sustainable companies to investing in women-led startups, females are more likely to marry their investment strategies with their personal values and principles.
  4. Quicker to admit mistakes – Though anecdotal, the guests noted women may be faster to acknowledge when they are wrong about an investment than men, who can be protective over their original theses. This allows females to cut losses quicker.

As Serena summarised, having more women in decision-making roles like corporate leadership, fund management and venture capital “does change the return profile and investment approach in a positive way, which recent studies are showing.”

Differences in how women and men engage finances

Research shows females take a longer-term, research-driven investing approach adjusting well for risk. This results in outperforming male portfolios over 5+ years due to holding investments through volatility.

As Reggie succinctly puts it, “Having diversity including female voices in decision-making improves outcomes by providing different lenses to catch blindspots.” Greater representation is shifting prevailing narratives and cultivating the next generation of confident female investors.

The Power of Dialogue

While the statistics and research around women’s investing behaviours are still emerging, both Serena and Sharon stressed the importance of open dialogue to uproot stigmas and encourage females to have healthier relationships with money.

“With our book, we’re working very hard on having this money topic get voiced,” Serena said. “Speaking with allies, friends and work environments to talk about women and money is absolutely necessary to drive change.”

Ultimately, the hope is that an increased comfort level around money conversations will lead to more women taking control of their finances and net worths. As Sharon stated, “We’re at the junction of a generational shift in how women perceive and approach money in a way that is more aware and values-driven. But we need action beyond just dialogue to effect real change.”

You can check their full interview on Wise & Shine, Episode 67 on Spotify, YouTube, Google podcast or Apple podcast as Serena Wong and Sharon Sim shed light on the unspoken topic of women and money. Through their book, “Why Women Don’t Talk Money,” they aim to break the silence and encourage women to develop healthier relationships with finance. By addressing the emotional barriers and cultivating self-awareness, women can empower themselves and embrace financial freedom. It’s time to transform the conversation and create a society where women confidently discuss money, investments, and their financial aspirations.

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