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Beyond Buffett: Talking Finance with Women (#2 — Ferzin Patel)
Beyond Buffett is a series of interviews with real women, in which we explore the female experience in the traditionally male-dominated world of money management, and women’s attitudes towards wealth.
In this blog, we’re talking to Ferzin Patel, founder and curator at Canvas and Weaves – an online gallery for fine art and sustainable fashion in Singapore. Ferzin has curated well-received art exhibitions in Singapore, and co-hosted an exclusive line of Indo-Western garments for a number of years. An avid spokesperson for women following their dreams, she cautions against ‘pinkification’ and lip-service in the financial services to attract the fairer sex.
Can you tell us a little about your personal money journey? Were you always financially savvy, or was there an incident which helped you understand the value of better wealth management?
My mother had hammered the importance of ‘savings’ & ‘financial independence’ from a very young age. I got my very own savings account when I could barely reach the teller counter.
I was unabashedly proud of filling up the deposit slip; signing and see my money grow in my bank account. Pocket money, birthday cash, cash gifts on festivals, everything was stashed away in my account. At the end of the year I would use my savings to buy something that I fancied. It made me happy, and very confident at a young age.
We’ve seen women joke that they weren’t good with finances because they did not ‘speak Math’. In a survey done in Britain, 1 in 3 women said they wouldn’t know what to do about money if they were separated from their partners.
A lot of women second guess themselves when it comes to money matters and prefer someone else taking these decisions. Have you ever found yourself in such situations, and what was your reaction?
It is naïve to believe that women are not good with finances. And it’s passé to think that women take care of the house and kids and men are the breadwinners.
It’s imperative for spouses to play an equal part in the financial planning. As a couple, two individuals bring with them two different perspectives on saving, spending, and investing—not to mention what’s an acceptable level of debt or risk.
You may choose to leave the execution with one of the spouse or an independent financial advisor, but financial goals have to be discussed by the couple as it about their future and how each partner has envisioned everyday life and our life together.
Following up from the previous question – women today have access and opportunity for financial empowerment, but we do not always make the best use of it. They also have a bad rep for being overspenders, impulsive shoppers, and what not.
Do you think women are their own worst enemy when it comes to money matters?
I don’t completely believe in this theory. If women are as involved as their counterpart to plan for their future, and set short-term and long-term financial goals, they would make more informed choices. After all, as per studies women are more risk-aware, and they prefer less volatility and more certainty of achieving their goals to taking big bets that may or may not be accompanied by greater investment returns.
That, to me, is sound financial planning. And women, in my opinion, are perfectly capable of that.
From the people you know – what has been the worst and the best financial advice you have been given?
Worst – Spend and god will send – unfortunately God believes in helping only those who help themselves.
Best – Being ‘independent‘ also means ‘NOT being financially dependent‘. Understand the importance of having a financial plan for the short and long term.
Women are known for their ‘nurture instinct’, and the ability to create and grow. Have you ever felt this instinct kick in in your career/or money-related matters? How do you think women can use this better to create a financially stable life?
I always joke around that Canvas & Weaves is my third child; my labour of love, born out of pure passion. The early days were confusing, exhausting and full of highs and lows. In all honesty, not much has changed in that department. But today I am much more confident and driven than ever before.
In this fast paced social media and smartphone era where everything quickly accelerates and then disappears, I have made a conscious choice to pace my growth and marvel at the process rather than focus on just the outcome.
My ultimate goal for all my babies (work and family 😁) is to make them independent and self sustainable. And if I extend this to my financial assets, I would want them to grow steadily, over a period of time.
What do you think needs to change in the current financial services industry for women to feel more included, and comfortable with making choices?
I have worked for a finance giant in the past, so I know the lingo can be jarring.
I didn’t see a separate offering for women on Kristal. And I feel this is good. Institutions need to change their approach. The priority is to address the needs of individuals or families and not get trapped in gender stereotypes or create segments. To borrow from Oliver Wyman, avoid ‘pinkification’ of offerings.
And just for cheese, what are the three things you would tell your younger self about wealth management. Maybe preach against piling credit card bills? 🙂
There is more to financial planning than fixed deposits and real estate. A little bit of risk, like spices, is good. It enhances the flavor!
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