“The deep rooted orientation that ‘men manage money much better’ has created a huge barrier in the minds of women that this is so complicated that only a male brain can decipher it,” says Priti Rathi Gupta, Managing Director and Promoter at AnandRathi Group. “Add to this years of conditioning that what really matters is earning your money and very little stress on how managing your money and investing is the only path to wealth creation, made it unattractive life skill for women.”
Married at an early age of 19, Priti she says she was inspired by her siblings, who are both CAs, to finish her education. She returned to her books to get a bachelor’s degree and went on to get an executive education from Harvard Business School. After joining the family-led business, she made her life’s mission to educate women about investing. To that effect, she founded LXME, a project and mission to, in her words, “change the dichotomy that exists when it comes to money and women.”
Priti spoke to MAKERS India to explain how LXME came to be and what is the goal behind this initiative.
Give us a background about your earliest recollection of being interested in matters of finance - stories about your childhood that you still remember.
My childhood memories of growing up in a middle class family, are those of making the most of every penny spent and every penny earned. Also, managing money had no gender specific roles.
In my early years, I have watched my grandmother do the financial planning for our house, which she did with sharp acumen.
During my adolescence, I watched my father not just earn money but also wisely invest for asset and wealth creation, a strategy that my mother was always onboard of and played an equal part by being a pragmatic spender and astute saver.
Growing up in a family like yours, did you always know you would get into finance?
My father had always let it known to me that understanding and equipping myself with ability to manage investing was a life skill which I have to build. During my college years, I interned with him to learn about investing in the equity market and later with my uncle, where I learnt all about the business of Stockbroking.
Tell us something about your family and their role in your career.
I come from a family that is very practical in their outlook and lucky that gender bias is non-existent. I got married at a very young age, but my both sides of my family have encouraged me to be an entrepreneur, fulfil my ambitions and keep investing in my education from time to time.
As a woman, however, there are certain roles that can only played by you because of what we bring on the table. Managing all those roles can be very challenging and create barriers to pursuing your career. It needs both the support of the family as well as your own grit and determination to make it.
You have seen the way people invest, you have seen the trends through the years. Give us an overview into how women in India invest. What do they invest in mostly?
14% of our population invests in debt and equity markets and if we look at the average portfolio size it’s barely 2-3%.
It is no wonder then that the stats for women are even more dismal. Today 18% of women are in the workforce and out of this, only 30% which is only 6%, of women invest their money.
Most of these women invest in Gold and some in Mutual Funds/equity and a large part of the money is kept in FDs.
Over the last few years, however the average AUM for women has exceeded that of men, telling us that women are avid and disciplined savers and investors once they start the journey.
What is the story behind LXME?
LXME, Pronounced Lakshmi, aims to change the dichotomy that exists when it comes to Money and women. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth in the Hindu Mythology, but money matters are traditionally become domains held by men.
For years I have watched women shy away from managing their money, or investing their savings. With the digitisation of financial tools, women can now easily manage their money on their smart phones, with far more ease.
The independence that has come with higher education, pursuing your career and also access to savvy online tools made the timing very conducive to creating a Money app for women, one that helps them find a solution for all that is needed for their financial planning journey, in a fun and engaging manner.
A Harvard executive education was the catalyst in working towards it, and of course the extensive 18 years of experience in Financial Services in curating the right journey and products is a huge advantage.
Why don't Indian women invest?
The deep rooted orientation that “Men manage money much better” has created a huge barrier in the minds of women that this is so complicated that only a male brain can decipher it. Added to this years of conditioning that what really matters is earning your money and very little stress on how managing your money and investing is the only path to wealth creation, made it unattractive life skill for women. I have also heard one big common barrier- the fear of making a mistake with money and being laughed at!
Hence women work hard at earning and saving their money, but stop there. The money is then either put in bank accounts, savings, recurring deposits and Fixed Deposits. Beyond that money is invested into Gold and sometimes real estate. The whole theme is safety of capital. However, the decrease in value of this money due to inflation is not taken into account. That is where Financial education and literacy comes into the picture.
How would you encourage a woman to invest - what would be your first advice?
The real freedom to live life at your terms comes only with managing your money actively.
Investing is a journey which involves constant work asset allocation to meet your needs, goals and dreams.
The starting point for any women is to define what her money goals are. Then look at the gap between what she is currently doing Vis-à-vis what is the ideal investment strategy to meet those goals in the defined period of time.
Even this small exercise will highlight the big difference that investing can make. Also it is important to highlight that investing is not complicated and doesn’t need mathematical abilities.