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 day during my morning commute I’m surrounded by men in monotone suits and shiny shoes. My quirky style isn’t the only way I stand out. I am 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 all day and occasional snarks about women. Still, my Type A personality helps me feel right at home in a place often ready to diminish my role. 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.

Here are a few things worth sharing from my experience:

1. Most men in finance suffer from know-it-all syndrome. They state things as fact and you should always take whatever they say with a truckload of salt because although they appear smart, they really are 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. 

3. Money is a tool, not a commodity. Therefore the right way to use it is to put it to use; so open up an IRA account and get serious about managing your expenses. I have an awesome accountant who created my own personalized spreadsheet to help me manage 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. You have to be in a constant student state: reading and 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 so 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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