On Tuesday 8 March 2022, International Women’s Day is raising awareness against bias and taking action for equality.  Fidelity has long championed the importance of women’s financial independence, working hard to understand, share and address the many challenges women face when moving from saving to investing and pensions.

We want to help close the gap between women and men when it comes to pensions and investing. So, this year we’ve asked four Fidelity women to share their stories about financial independence.

These are the thoughts of the women we've spoken to, and the information provided is not a personal recommendation for a particular course of action. Any stated investment actions may not be suitable for your personal circumstances. So, if you’re unsure about the right approach for you personally you should speak to an authorised financial adviser. It’s important to remember that the value of the investments and any income from them can go down, as well as up, so you may get back less than you invest.

Emma Tilt - Head of Fidelity UK Personal Investing

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“When I was growing up, my dad taught me about the importance of money. He’d always tell me ‘Money doesn’t grow on trees - you have to earn it.’ It’s something that’s stuck with me ever since. And from a young age I was always looking for ways to earn pocket money - whether that was carrying out chores around the house, washing other people’s cars or doing my paper round.

“He taught me about saving, by opening high interest savings accounts for me (moving the money around to get the best interest rates) and investing in bonds. I remember looking up the share price of his company by scrolling through Teletext. It’s probably where my fascination with the idea of investing all started. I even asked my dad if I could buy shares in Manchester United as I was a big fan growing up. These days my investment decisions are no longer based solely on the things I’m interested in.

“I have a four-year-old son and even at his young age I talk to him about money and saving. I opened a Junior ISA for him when he was born. When he gets a bit older, I’ll take the time to familiarise him with his account. For now, he has a piggy bank to help make the idea of saving a bit more tangible. Getting children used to, and understanding, money is vital as it will help them gain financial independence in the long run. I find learning through play is a good way to get little ones to understand, so I’ll often ‘play shop’ with my son. It’s fun and educational!”

Ayesha Akbar - Fund Manager

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“I grew up with parents that instilled in their children the importance of working hard, saving and investing - although for my family, investing basically meant buying a house.

“Education was also very important - I come from a family of engineers and doctors - but I bucked the trend and was the first person to study economics at university. It was here that I first learned about financial markets and realised very quickly that this was the career for me.

“I think there’s still a perception that a career in finance, and investing is something for men, but that is changing and anything I can do to get more women interested in this industry has to be positive.

“The importance of financial independence really struck home for me when I got married and moved back to the UK. There was a period of a few months when I was in-between jobs. I was still relatively young at the time and we didn’t have much in the way of savings. Not having an income really highlighted how important it was for me to make my own money and invest to have enough saved over for a rainy day.

“As I’m the first person in my family that’s worked in finance, it’s helped them appreciate that investing is so much broader than they first thought… and often easier than just buying property. They have embraced investing in stock markets - and my mother’s my biggest fan.”

Maike Currie - Investment director and market commentator

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“When it comes to life lessons - both financial and emotional - I am incredibly lucky to have been able to draw on two inspirational women. There’s no doubt they’ve shaped how I think and act and put me on my own path to financial independence from a young age.

“My grandmother was a typical 1950s housewife who managed the household budget with a monthly allowance she received from my grandfather. She always kept aside a slice of this ‘allowance’ and unlike perhaps many other women of her era, she didn’t stick these ‘savings’ in a tin for a rainy day. Instead, she took the brave move to invest in the stock market. I vividly remember her checking her investments’ share prices in the Sunday newspaper. She showed me that women can be investors, regardless of their profession, wealth or level of knowledge.

“Then there’s my mum, who is somewhat of an ‘investment rock star’ in my eyes. Divorced, she needed to put her two daughters through university. Given that she was on a South African teacher’s salary, this was going to be no mean feat. So, she took the plunge and invested - growing her savings. It’s hard not to be inspired and have a passion for investment when you’re set that kind of example. Perhaps that’s why Fidelity’s mission to help women unlock their financial power is so important to me. It’s personal. If we want more women to start investing, we need to address the many personal and professional barriers that often see women shying away from the world of investment - from financial jargon to the misconception that investing if something only for men in suits. Women are great savers, but to truly turn the dial for the economy, for society and for their families - they need to take the plunge and invest. And, quite simply if you can see it, you can be it.”

Kat Tabor - Financial Adviser

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“I suppose the first time I really recognised the value of money was when I was around 17 years old. I’d been working part-time and despite earning only the minimum wage, one day I went out and spent £90 on a Ralph Lauren t-shirt. I was so excited about it and I couldn’t wait to show it off to my parents - but they were shocked at how much that one item of clothing cost. They asked me, “How many hours did you have to work to buy that top?” At that time, the minimum wage was only about £5.70 an hour. So, the realisation that it’d taken almost 16 hours - two whole days’ work - for one t-shirt was a real shock to the system.

“It’s a lesson that’s stayed with me. I’m still very much aware of the value of money, particularly when it comes to buying - and saving for - the things I want. Although now I tend to think more about ‘What percentage of my mortgage payment is that?’ or ‘How could that money shape my savings.’

“I’m especially focussed about saving for my retirement. I’ve set up a regular savings plan for my Stocks and Shares ISA and as the payment comes out on payday, I don’t even notice it! I see this as a really important part of my future retirement plans as it’ll top up my company pension income. Not only is it a tax-efficient way to save, but over the next 30+ years it gives my savings a real chance to build up and hopefully benefit from investment growth too. It’s never too early to start.”

Important information: Investors should note that the views expressed may no longer be current and may have already been acted upon. Tax treatment depends on individual circumstances and all tax rules may change in the future. Junior ISAs are long term tax-efficient savings accounts for children. Withdrawals will not be possible until the child reaches age 18.

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