“We should have a bigger goal than just solving gender inequality in the workplace — we should have more people who believe in gender equality” with Jason Hartman & Renee Mu

Educate the Younger Generation: We should have a bigger goal than just solving gender inequality in the workplace — we should have more people who believe in gender equality. When boys and girls are taught in school that men and women have equal rights, they are more likely to grow into adults who believe that. Then, we […]

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Educate the Younger Generation: We should have a bigger goal than just solving gender inequality in the workplace — we should have more people who believe in gender equality. When boys and girls are taught in school that men and women have equal rights, they are more likely to grow into adults who believe that. Then, we are more likely to see changes in the whole of society.

As a part of my series about strong female finance leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Renee Mu, a currency analyst with DailyFX. Renee Mu is a currency analyst with DailyFX. She focuses on the interplay between Chinese financial markets and government policy, with a specialty in exploring different macro and micro themes in her fundamental analysis. She also practices what she preaches, balancing her day role with a six-year trading career of her own as well as additional business interests.

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 started with a pharmacy major in Peking University in China. It was a popular major and I was good at math, physics and chemistry in high school, so I chose it. That seemed to be a perfect match for me, until I took the Economics 101 class in university. How the financial market works became so fascinating to me, and I remember I made the decision in that class that I want to pursue my career in economics/finance. It was not easy to change a major at that time, so I took a second major of economics. Later, I decided to pursue a master’s degree in finance at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After that, I moved to New York to venture into one of the most advanced financial markets in the world and got an internship with DailyFX.

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?

One interesting thing is that my role has been expanded since about two years ago from solely doing analysis to also covering business development for my team. Right after the change, I found my new projects had taken a large amount of my time and I needed a new way to balance my analysis and my other tasks. Then, I developed a strategy to use several checkpoints across a day for my analysis.

I have shared details about this strategy in the video of A Day in The Life of A Trader. Through my own experience, I realized that many within DailyFX’s audience may face similar challenges. A lot of them have a full-time job and/or have a family to take care of. They have limited free time left and thus need practical and effective ways to maintain trading.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

DailyFX has readers from all over the world who read and speak in different languages and come from different cultural backgrounds. I’m working on a project that aims to improve user experience on DailyFX’s websites, which are available in many languages. As someone who grew up in China and is working in the United States, I understand how different peoples’ needs can be. I’m working with the leaders of each language team to tailor the user experience to our audience, so our audience will not only learn market knowledge from DailyFX in their own languages, but also enjoy localized designs that fit into their cultures.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

DailyFX is a place where people love what they do, and people like others who love what they do. I see that passion is one of the most powerful intrinsic drivers that can help people to achieve success. For instance, if you are interested in a subject, you tend to spend more time on it. The more time you spend, the higher the chance that you will be good at it.

In the video of A Day in The Life of A Trader, my two colleagues, Michael Boutros and Chris Vecchio, and I have shared how we conduct our analysis and trading in our life, not just at work. I see that having great passion is the primary reason why DailyFX analysts are all good at what they are do.

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?

We have seen increasing diversity in gender and cultural backgrounds in the finance industry. I think there are two major contributors.

A) Efforts that our society has made so far to narrow the gender gap: For instance, girls are more encouraged to pursue majors that they are interested in, including finance and economics. I remember there were about the same amount of male and female students in my master program at the University of Illinois. With equal access to knowledge and skills, women get more opportunities to prove that they are as good as men and sometimes even better in school and in the workplace.

B) The development of international markets: The finance industry is a service industry. I see that people who work in this industry somewhat reflect the type of clients that they are serving. Nowadays, clients of financial institutions come from all over the world. For instance, if a bank has a client from Hong Kong, wouldn’t it be better to have an employee who speaks the same language and understands the same culture to meet with the client? For such a reason, financial institutions have more incentive to increase the diversity of their employees. On the DailyFX author’s page, you can see how diversified our team is and each of us has a specialty.

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 three things can be done by a) individuals b) companies and/or c) society to support this movement going forward?

a) Individuals:

Be an Expert in Your Field: I believe this is the foundation for everyone, whether they are a man or a woman, to get a promotion or a higher pay. This will also give you more confidence to stand up for yourself.

Get a Mentor: This can be someone in your company or someone who you trust in your life. You will first need to feel comfortable enough to talk about your concerns in front of someone that you are close with, so then you can be better prepared and step up and address the issue in your workplace as needed.

Team Up with Other Women: Join a women’s network in your company. If not available, find a local women’s professional network in your city. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the gender gap issue won’t be resolved in one either. More women need to be aware of the issue and get involved through online and face-to-face networks.

b) Companies

Inspire Women: To encourage women not to be afraid of speaking up, especially if the company has more men than women.

Facilitate Their Life: To have measures in place to help women to conduct their lives outside of the workplace. For example, to allow women to work with flexible hours or work from home if they have just come back from maternity leave or need to take care of their children if they’re sick.

Establish Support Networks: This includes steps such as hosting workshops for women so they can learn how to balance work and life to setting up a women’s network as my company does.

c) Society

Educate the Younger Generation: We should have a bigger goal than just solving gender inequality in the workplace — we should have more people who believe in gender equality. When boys and girls are taught in school that men and women have equal rights, they are more likely to grow into adults who believe that. Then, we are more likely to see changes in the whole of society.

Support Women in Need: Many government and non-profit organizations have already been doing this and should continue to provide help to women who are in need. These public services could be their last resource to solve the issues that they encounter.

Invest in Research: Gender inequality is an issue with no simple solution. However, most central banks have a well-organized system to collect, evaluate and analyze information, then come up with measures, solutions and feedback. Governments and government agencies could adopt a similar approach by investing and hiring more professionals to work on the specific issue.

You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise someone about five 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?

First, I want to clarify that DailyFX analysts do not provide any kind of investment advice. We do recommend that our readers seek advice from an independent advisor if they have any doubts. Below, I’d like to share some lessons that I learned from my own investment and trading experience.

Clarify My Investment Objectives: People may have different purposes for investment, for example, saving for their children’s college tuition or their own retirement or simply having a speculation on a stock. There are a variety of reasons, and there are a variety of financial products. When I make an investment, I’ll first ask myself — “what’s the purpose of my investment?”

Be Aware of My Risk Appetite: A high return may often come along with a high risk. The second question I’ll ask myself is — “how much money I can afford to lose in this investment?” For some financial products, a loss could potentially exceed the initial investment, so I need to make sure that I’m comfortable with the maximum possible loss before I place the investment order.

Develop a Trading Plan: I will come up with a detailed plan for my trade. It will help me to answer questions such as “when is the right time to enter the trade?” Also, I believe that, as humans, we may not always stay rational and can be quite emotional sometimes. Thus, I need a plan that I can follow to make the right moves.

Keep an Investment Journal: A trade can take days, weeks or years. I don’t want to lose track of my investments, so I have a journal for them. There is a Chinese saying: “The faintest ink is more powerful than the strongest memory”. Nowadays, we have even more options to keep our diaries on paper or on electronic devices.

Learn from the Professionals: I started as an intern with DailyFX, knowing little about FX trading. Over the years, I have learned a ton of knowledge and skills about trading and investment through DailyFX’s education materials, including articles and webinars. The educational content is also available in many other languages besides English, such as Spanish, Chinese, German and French. For someone who has little knowledge about finance and trading, DailyFX is a good place to start.

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?

For women who work in the finance industry, it is good to have a female role model to follow. For me, that is Nancy Robles, the CEO of DailyFX. She is not my line manager and she often has a very tight schedule, but she would spend time to check on me, give me guidance and discuss any issues with me. I can see that she sets a great standard as a female leader, not just for me but for all women in my company.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My life lesson quote is the old saying: ”All roads lead to Rome”. It means you need to find your own path to success. If it is not there, create one. Often, people are just trying to replicate the success of other people. It doesn’t work.

People are different, in many ways (gender, age, culture, education background, etc.). Thus, you need your own way to success. Use myself as an example: When I started as an intern with DailyFX, the gender difference between me and my colleagues might have been the smallest issue. I was also facing culture shock and language differences as well as a lot of new knowledge to learn. I asked myself — “do I need to be the same as my colleagues in order to become a good analyst?” Luckily the answer is no. I just need to develop my own expertise and contribute to my team. In fact, my colleagues also have their own stories of becoming an analyst. Rome is there; we have just all figured out our own ways to get there.

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 inspire others to make learning a life-long process. I see that education is the most powerful tool that people can use to change their lives, regardless of their gender, age, or culture background. For some people, they stop learning after they finish school. However, in this fast-changing world, I see it as very important to keep learning in an area that you are interested in or to develop new interests. Regardless of what your profession is, a financial analyst, a programmer or an actor, a life-long learning process can benefit your career.

Thank you for all of these great insights!

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