As a society we have to have the same conversations about money with our daughters that we do with our sons, and we have to do it earlier. Girls have already formed a belief around money by the time they enter high school. From creating a savings piggy bank to recognizing the value of money and building discipline around it, all children should be learning the same things.
As a part of my series about strong female finance leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ande Frazier, the CEO of women’s financial site myWorth. Ande has made it her mission to break down the emotional, behavioral and societal barriers that stand between women and strong financial foundations. She’s widely recognized as a driving force in the financial community, having risen to the top of the primarily male-dominated insurance world as the former head of a multi-million-dollar fintech company and a VP at Penn Mutual. Ande launched myWorth to inspire a financial awakening among women who are eager to take control of their financial journeys. Her first book will be published in January 2020.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Banking/Finance field?
I had my mind set on going into the fashion business when I was in college. My dad was in the financial industry at that point, having changed his career about five years prior. He really enjoyed what he was doing and had told me it was a great career path because of its flexibility. Once I graduated with a BS in occupational and technical studies, I started looking for jobs in fashion but most were focused on merchandising and working retail.
I considered all my options after graduating college, including the finance field. The more my dad talked about the opportunity in finance to create my own path and my own hours, the more I started to lean towards it. I decided to give it a shot for a year, but I once I got started, I found myself liking it more than I thought and decided to stay in the industry.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
Early in my career as a financial advisor I worked with a woman who was struggling with debt. We had set some goals, but she wasn’t hitting them and felt discouraged. When we took a deeper look into her spending habits, we discovered that she first needed to adjust her relationship with money. Her money mindset was that she wasn’t good enough, and she would continually spend her money on things to try and prove something to herself and the people around her, which was bringing her into debt. I learned from this experience how critical it is to address a person’s relationship with money and the core values they hold first, and then align those with goals. A person’s money mindset will ultimately control if they take action towards a certain goal.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I’ll be releasing a book in January 2020 which covers the 11 conversations you need to have with yourself about life, money and your work. It’s not a how-to book, but rather a book that addresses our money mindset — how we think about money and our overall relationship with it. The book will get people thinking about their financial situation and help them to answer important questions about the origin of their money mindset and the ‘why’ behind their financial goals.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
MyWorth is a media community that’s inspiring a financial renaissance among women as they become the drivers of today’s leading businesses and their own financial journeys. At myWorth we’re focused on the comprehensiveness of a person’s personality around money. There’s an emotional aspect around money that most people don’t talk about.
The biggest financial decisions are made when other things are going on in our lives — this could be an opportunity (e.g. starting a new business or having a baby) or a challenge (e.g. divorce or loss of a job). We have to identify the emotions associated with these events and recognize patterns around them to better understand our behavior around money. Only then can we move forward to align our behaviors and values with financial goals.
MyWorth also addresses the specific challenges women face that attribute to their money mindset — we’re addressing the totality of it all. MyWorth is an open community where we’re creating a financial awakening, having deep — and necessary — conversations about money and asking the tough questions that women need answers to.
Wall Street and Finance used to be an “all white boys club”. This has changed a lot recently. In your opinion, what caused this change?
It’sbeen something women in the industry have been talking about and noticing for years, but there’s always been a lot of self-preservation around the topic — women didn’t want to lose their seat at the table. Movements like Time’s Up and Me Too served as catalysts for all women to have these tough conversations, no matter the industry. These movements gave women the courage, and the opening, to say: we deserve to have more representation and we want to see more people like us represented in the industry. It’s helped women to build a community where no one is afraid or alone to speak up anymore.
Of course, despite the progress, we still have a lot more work to do to achieve parity. According to this report in CNBC, less than 17 percent of senior positions in investment banks are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society to support this movement going forward?
1) Women need to apply for bigger roles and their dream jobs, even if they don’t qualify completely or feel they deserve it. Men have been found to apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100%. Women can’t be afraid to put themselves out there.
2) Companies have to be willing to give people opportunities when they see potential. Society is changing, and companies need to realize that they need more women at the table, not only because it’s better for business but because they bring different talents and new perspectives to the table. Organizations also need to realize that business extends beyond the board room, and need to make sure these activities appeal to women as well. The ways in which companies have normally socialized through business such as cigar bars, dinner or golfing need to start shifting to tend to women’s interests as well.
3) As a society we have to have the same conversations about money with our daughters that we do with our sons, and we have to do it earlier. Girls have already formed a belief around money by the time they enter high school. From creating a savings piggy bank to recognizing the value of money and building discipline around it, all children should be learning the same things.
You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive things one should do to become more financially literate, what would you say? Can you please give a story or example for each?
- Saving money early on is the best thing you can do for yourself. Those who save early on can take less risk throughout their lives and be more strategic with their money. Waiting until later in life to save money will cause urgency to earn money in a short amount of time, and the only way to get that done is through elevated risk. The best thing you can give yourself, and your money, is time.
- Pay yourself first. Many people get in the habit of saving what’s left after expenses and spending, which many times ends up being nothing. As soon as you receive your paycheck move money directly into a savings account, and then budget for what’s left. Whether it’s $10 or $100, paying yourself first counts.
- Create a liberty fund. A liberty fund is more than just an emergency fund. While it can cover emergency expenses such as medical bills or a new AC, it also serves to cover the expenses of leaving an abusive relationship or leaving a job you hate. A liberty fund should consist of 6 months living expenses, or 50% of your gross annual income. Only once your liberty fund is at that number should you start saving for retirement. If all your money is in retirement when you need cash to pay for an emergency, you may have to take money out of that retirement fund and build debt in the process.
- Keep the good debt. There’s good debt and bad debt and you need to know the difference. Good debt, like a mortgage, is deductible and an investment in your future. You shouldn’t automatically pay off your mortgage just because it is debt. You should consider that on a more strategic level. On the other hand, bad debt, like credit card debt, can bring down your credit score which affects so many other parts of life. You should try to pay down your credit card debt as soon as possible.
- Get protection early on. What creates money in your life is your ability to earn money. Protect that. Make sure you’re covered with life insurance early on because not only are rates better, but you have the freedom to make different choices throughout life, especially during retirement. Many people think about protecting themselves last, and it’s not something you can go back on and get insurance later.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’m extremely grateful for Eileen McDonnell, the CEO of Penn Mutual. She gave me an opportunity to take on a much larger role and responsibility as the CEO of myWorth. She did a great job at being a mentor, always asking great questions and coaching me in a way that gave me more to think about. MyWorth was created from her vision to change the way the financial industry relates to women. She wanted to make a difference for women, as clients and as future financial professionals.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
One of my favorite quotes comes from Jim Carrey, “The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is.” Every day we interact with people, and we often don’t take the time to think about them. From the person standing next to you on the subway to the person who rings up your groceries, every person on this earth is connected. Being aware, and courteous to the people around us is the most valuable thing we can offer. A small gesture of humanity can have a profound effect on someone.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would like to inspire a movement to address poverty. Poverty is very problematic and it eliminates opportunities and choices for so many people. It’s more than just finances — it’s about self-confidence and the self-worth of people. When people are part of ‘poor’ circumstances, it’s so easy to conflate into a sense of ‘lack of worthiness.’ Addressing poverty would spark a chain reaction — the more opportunities we give people, the better they will feel about themselves. It would be an amazing thing to watch.
Thank you for all of these great insights!