- Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship
Why Women Should Invest
Why Women Should Invest
Former financial journalist and current adjunct professor of entrepreneurship Alexis Jeffries describes why young women need to start investing now.
ALEXIS JEFFRIES MBA ’17 is head of business product marketing for GLASSDOOR and an adjunct professor with USC Marshall’s Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, where this year she teaches Entrepreneurship and eCommerce. She’s also a sought-after mentor, public speaker, and adviser.
Teaching women, and in particular women of color, how and why to begin investing is something near to her heart.
“My exposure to investing started when I was 6, when my grandfather took me down to Wells Fargo and opened up a bank account for me,” she said. “He was financially oriented, and I was the oldest grandchild, so it was up to me to learn.”
She saved every penny earned from getting good grades and received for her birthday. “People would ask me why not spend that money, and I’d tell them I just don’t know what I want to spend it on, so I’ll keep saving until I do.”
Turns out that’s a good mindset to begin investing: Don’t spend. Invest.
Fast-forward to post-collegiate life, when Jeffries found herself at Money Magazine, dispensing money and investing advice. “I realized I had to take a deeper look at my relationship with money,” she said. “Since then I’ve always had this sense and desire to fortify my financial knowledge for my future self.”
Now an accomplished investor herself, Jeffries offers six tips about investing that every young woman, business student or otherwise, should know.
“Education is the great equalizer, but money is access — for your future self and future generations.”
1. Start Now
“Remember one thing first,” Jeffries said. “This isn’t for you. It’s for your future self.”
She recalled the 6-year-old trudging to the local Wells Fargo Bank with her grandfather and recognizes that opening that bank account wasn’t for the 6-year-old, it was for the grown-up she would one day become.
“The future version of whomever you are will need these resources and this knowledge to continue to build the life that she wants,” she said. “Twenty-year-old you won’t necessarily see this as advantageous. Thirty-year-old you will.”
2. Be Calculating
“There’s this thought that women are risk adverse,” Jeffries said. “I would argue that women are more risk aware. We’re more thoughtful and calculating in that sense. We go through a more thorough thought process with our investment strategies, and that’s because typically, women don’t earn as much as men.”
That’s because there’s still a pay gap. According to 2020 CENSUS BUREAU DATA, women still make only 83 cents for every dollar a man makes. Black women make even less — only 64 cents per dollar.
“So we’re a lot more cautious about where we put our money. This is why, on average, women are better investors and have better returns.”
She advises young women to not second-guess themselves. “You’re good at this. Don’t allow yourself to be scared out of it.”
Start by reading everything you can on investing. Jeffries recommends women get started by checking out content written by and for women investors, including ELLEVEST, Making Money Make Sense with JEAN CHATZKY, THE FINANCIAL DIET, and Tiffany Aliche’s THE BUDGETNISTA.
3. Do It Scared
Women often second-guess themselves, especially in male-dominated environments, such as investing. That’s when it’s most important to lean in and do the thing that scares you anyway, Jeffries said.
When she was getting her MBA at USC Marshall, Jeffries really wanted to join the highly competitive Entrepreneurship and Venture Management Association (EVMA). “But I didn’t see anyone there who looked like me, so I didn’t join,” she said. “And I regret leaving that network on the table.”
In her first post-MBA job in consulting, she looked into the employee stock purchasing program and was shocked to find that so few women were participating. “It got me thinking: Something is amiss. I learned all this information in business school, and it’s not getting through to women. What’s that about?”
She doubled down on her involvement with investing, joining several women investing groups such as Pipeline Angels, an international angel investing syndicate.
“Feel the fear,” she said. “Acknowledge it. Recognize that these emotions are fleeting. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Do it scared if you have to. Your future self will thank you.”
4. Start Small
Stop thinking you have to be rich to become rich. “Start now for your future,” Jeffries said.
Women of color in particular need to take action. “We just had WOMEN'S EQUAL PAY DAY, and women of color on average make even less. That’s a temptation to think of ourselves as even more disadvantaged and say, ‘I’m going to wait until I have enough to start investing.’
But that’s not the right mindset. “My piece of advice specifically to women of color — don’t wait until tomorrow for what you can do today. Do it with what you’ve got.”
“It doesn’t take a lot of money to start. Do you have $10 extra a month? Start with that.”
5. On-the-Job Training
Investing is hands-on learning.
“You’ll never be expected to know how to do 100 percent of it,” Jeffries said. “But it’s on-the-job training. You learn by doing, and it’s no risk, no reward.
“If you don’t do the thing, you’re never going to learn how to do the things.”
6. Just Do It
After she worked at Money Magazine, Jeffries wrote and edited personal finance content for Essence, a magazine owned by the same group aimed at Black women.
“Month after month, the personal finance section of Essence was the most read part of the magazine,” she said. “That meant that Black women in particular wanted to understand what to do with their money. We’re hungry for knowledge and information, but we put up barriers and block ourselves.”
“Education is the great equalizer,” Jeffries said. “But money is access — for your future self and future generations.”
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