Investing today for a better tomorrow.
Jessica Robinson is the Founder and Managing Director of Moxie Future – the world’s first insights, education and community platform empowering women as responsible, sustainable and impactful investors. In addition to running Moxie Future, Jessica works as a strategic advisor to institutional investors, think tanks and governments on all things relating to green finance, sustainability and responsible investment.
Contributing editor, Saja Elmishri had a virtual sit down with Jessica to discuss her newly published book: Financial Feminism for a Sustainable Future and how this pertains to women working in the Middle East.
1. What are your experiences of writing the book and how have you found it?
I absolutely loved writing my book, Financial Feminism – A Woman’s Guide to Investing for a Sustainable Future. I realized I have been carrying around in my head so many of the book’s core messages for a number of years and it was a phenomenal experience to focus on getting it all down on paper. I specifically wrote it in a very chatty and accessible style, as if I was talking to a girlfriend, and really felt inspired as the project evolved. I see Financial Feminism as a movement – it doesn’t stop with the book. The book is just about getting women engaged and then supporting them to move forward.
2. Tell us more about “the gender investing gap – which shows women are investing less than men, saving less for retirement and parking more in cash”; how are these trends apparent in the MENA region specifically, if at all?
The gender investing gap is a global problem, although there are obviously regional and market nuances to take into. It is a very concerning trend because, by not actively investing, women are ending up with much less when they reach retirement. This of course is compounded by the impact of the gender pay gap (when on average women are receiving only 80% of the salary as man is) as well the reality that women tend to outlive men. In MENA specifically we do not have readily available data but I think it is safe to assume that women in the region are facing similar challenges to women elsewhere, if not accentuated.
3. In your book, you say “women also care about where their money is invested and the impact it can have.” Do you think a sustainable future is in the hands of women more than men? Why or why not?
While I am careful about not making too many generalizations, we do know that women across the world are highly motivated to consider the societal and environmental impacts of their financial and investment decisions. This is not to say that men do not, and it is certainly not a man versus woman debate. It is rather that, when we can observe this trend so clearly, and then marry it with evidence that many women feel excluded or patronized by the existing financial industry, there is clearly a need to be addressed. Women’s share of private wealth is growing significantly – so my call is to the financial industry to listen to what women want. And they want to find investments in sustainable companies, companies that minimize their environmental impact, are well-managed and fair in their labor practices, consider their broader role in society and so on. I think that the more we can empower women as sustainable investors, the more we can drive substantial change in the world. For this reason, yes I do believe women will be drivers of positive change. Interestingly, we also have an abundance of evidence how motivated younger generations are to prioritize sustainability – I think this is a critical trend that we need to leverage also.
4. What should women in their early stage of their careers consider when it comes to financial feminism?
To me, financial feminism is all about taking ownership of your financial decisions and articulating what matters to you. Money is a lever of change and can be used as a force for good. So, to women in their early stages, it is about getting educated and empowered. Investing can seem daunting and it’s not always easy to talk about money. But don’t shy away – sustainable investing is an exciting opportunity to be in control and to articulate what matters to you in the world. You can actually start with small sums of money, particularly given the number of investing apps that are cropping up, so just get started. Also have conversations with friends and family – this is a movement as much as anything else.
5. How can women change the face of retail when it comes to creating sustainable companies from scratch?
Sustainable companies are the future for retail – especially as consumers call for more and more sustainable products and services. My advice is really to get ahead of the curve – start thinking about consumer trends and finding your place in the market. The good news is that sustainable investing is something that can help – find investors who specifically want to support the growth of sustainable companies. The other emerging angle is finding gender-lens investors – in other words, investors who specifically want to invest in female founders. I am an active gender-lens investor and I really love supporting women in growing their businesses.
6. What learning tools can we use to understand how to invest for a positive future?
Investing for a positive future, being a sustainable investor, is all about making well-informed, well-considered decisions. First of all, prioritize what you care about. Ask yourself – what kind of issues are important to me? Then translate your priorities into sustainable investment beliefs. These are the guiding principles that spell out who you are and what you want to achieve with your investments.
Next, do some goal setting. What do you want your investments to accomplish? The more specific you are, the easier it will be to identify how and where you want to invest. Then it is time to get more educated and more empowered. There is a wealth of information and analysis out there so use it to your advantage. Even if you commit just one hour a week. Once you are ready, start action planning – what are the actions that need to take you from A to B.