Top Things I Learned While Working in Finance

Black fashion designers

The finance industry wears the pants but it is a lot of bark and no bite.

I work in a private equity firm on Park Avenue. Every morning during my commute to work I’m surrounded by men in monotone suits and extra shiny shoes. My quirky style isn’t the only way I stand out. I’m a minority woman working in an industry known for its chauvinistic attitude and strong patriarchal ties. In fact I happen to be the only woman in my office and yes, sometimes it is as bad as you think. I have to listen to bro jokes and occasional snarks about women. Still, my Type A personality helps me feel right at home. I learned that working in the boys club is a constant dance of saying just enough or not saying anything at all, accommodating their needs versus imposing mine, and including them in the feminist conversation without hurting egos. Most importantly though, I learned how to get smart about money.

Here are a few things worth sharing from my experience:

1. People who work in finance suffer from know-it-all syndrome. They state things as fact and you should always take whatever they say with a grain of salt because although they appear smart, they are often super biased. 

2. There is absolutely nothing scary about investing and you don’t need to have all the answers to start. Just do it! Robinhood is a great app for first time investors, you can buy and sell stocks on the platform without paying management fees. Trust me, future you will thank you for owning shares of Facebook (maybe?). 

3. Money is a tool, not a commodity. So the right way to use it is to put it to use; you can begin by opening up an IRA account and getting serious about managing your expenses. I have an awesome accountant who created my own personalized expense spreadsheet to help keep track of my finances. As a small business owner, it’s important to know where all your money goes (cc: Uber). If you’re curious about your spending habits try working with an expense sheet – you can download one here for free. 

4. Educate yourself. The best investors are constantly learning about new businesses or new market trends in order to forecast industry outcomes and make informed decisions about where they put their money. You have to be in a constant state of learning. The Wall Street Journal and Fortune’s Term Sheet are great resources if you’re serious about getting some skin in the game. 

5. Start with where you are. Whether you have $10 or $10,000 you can still make your money work for you. There are so many white papers published on the web every day about how to put your money to work – again staying informed is tedious but worth it. 

6. Create a monthly appointment with yourself so you can check in with your expenses and goals. Qapital is my favorite set it and forget it savings app and every month I get a kick out of how much I spent versus how much I was able to save. I’m also a Moleskine addict which means writing down goals and ticking them off is my idea of #sosatisfying feels.


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