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Whether you are looking to build your wealth, to invest for your retirement, or a way to fund big projects, investing can be the key to creating the future you desire.

But, to invest, it is best to first have access to information about the financial and investment world. And when you are a woman, you might feel that you don’t have enough access to this knowledge or that it is not delivered to you properly.

We spoke to Marie Ribbelöv, Head of Client Success at Alpian, about why financial literacy is especially important for women and why financial advisors need to make sure to genuinely address women’s questions and concerns.

VM: Hello Marie. It is great to speak to you. First, could you tell me more about yourself, your background in finance, and client success?

MR: Sure! So basically, I am the mom of three kids working full time. I totally understand the challenges that women who juggle their career and their family have. Family is always your prime focus, the happiness of your children, their education, their wellbeing. To then be able to marry that with an interesting career in finance is a great opportunity and stimulating challenge, both in terms of guidance in your professional role as to how finance needs to evolve but also in the guidance as a parent in your children’s upbringing.

On a more professional note, I’ve been working in finance my whole life. I graduated with a Master of Economics and Finance. I started out initially in management consulting, advising banks, and then moved to the banking industry.

I think that for women, especially, it is very important to take accountability for your financial future: Nobody else can do it for you. You have to do it yourself and be the master of your own future. It’s really important to get that message across to women.

That sounds interesting! Could you tell me a bit more about your professional life? How did you end up as the Head of Client Success at Alpian?

So, I’ve worked at Deutsche Bank for 12 years. I gradually moved from leading one operations team in Private Wealth Management to client advisor of High Net Worth and Ultra High Net Worth clients in Greece and Turkey.

After that, I moved on to Pictet Wealth Management, where I worked as Business Manager on the Investment Platform implementing the Investment Specialist role and as Product Manager on different investment products.

I joined Alpian in October 2020. I joined because I believe in the democratisation of Private Banking and making this accessible to other client segments and demystifying finance to be more comprehensible and transparent. Raised in Sweden where Fintech is predominant I have seen and benefited from high-performing digital platforms, so I believe there is a great opportunity in other parts of the world.

Part of your aspirations is to educate more women about finance and investing. Why do you think it’s important to help women take charge of their finances and investment?

I think that for women, especially, it is very important to take accountability for your financial future: Nobody else can do it for you. You have to do it yourself and be the master of your own future. It’s really important to get that message across to women.

There is also the importance of thinking about starting your investment journey early. If you start early, you might be able to afford to add a little bit more risk with the longer investment time horizon that you have as a younger investor. It would also allow women to get a bit more comfortable and experienced in the whole investment area.

With my work, I want to, especially, reach all the young women who have finished their education and embark on their careers. This is the time to really think ahead. This is where the banking sector will have an important role in taking a lifecycle approach when they advise women investors. Given that, on average, women will take career breaks or potentially work part-time during some time in their lives.

Could you expand a bit more on the principle of lifecycle investing?

Yes, of course. I would define lifecycle investing as the different stages of a person’s life. For example, when a woman starts working, she’ll probably most likely have a lower salary, around the age of 25. At that time, she could work with a bit of a longer investment time horizon and, therefore, be able to take a higher risk. Starting the investment journey early, would give the woman investor more options for the next life cycle phase and provide her with a better investment buffer

When we move on to the next phase, where women may have families, they may take career breaks, or they’ll be working part-time. They will need to reconsider and most likely adjust the investor risk profile to a more balanced profile. The revenue generation will probably drop. And we may need to look at how we could, in that case, offset that revenue drop, and we could look for revenue-generating strategies to compensate. So that could be the strategy for the younger middle-aged woman.

Then, the next phases will be more toward the senior part of life. Some women might be finishing their careers working full-time, with higher revenue streams coming in, and could afford to add risk to their risk profile, they will most likely be more comfortable and confident investors at this stage. Finally, as women approach retirement, their capital base will most likely be more important, the risk profile should be adapted to a more conservative profile and oriented to more income-related investment strategies.

Why do you think women are less likely to invest and to really take risks like men?

First of all, I think the terminology is probably not the most adapted to women investors. There’s also a lack of trust from women in the whole investment community.

I think the investment community hasn’t made the appropriate efforts to really help women get on board on the investment journey, like partnering up with women, finding the correct vocabulary, or finding products that are basically tailored to women investors.

I think that the banking and the investment community really need to change on that side, to be able to provide investment plans that are more tailored to the woman investor as well. To really take the time to sit down with a woman and understand her personal objectives. The woman investor should expect to be fully comfortable and confident with her investment strategy so that she can focus on what is important to her in her life.

The banking and investment community is slowly starting to change. A lot of new resources like websites, apps, or services are aimed at women and women investors. Do you think there is an opportunity to be able to help women become part of this community?

I believe that what is happening currently in the financial arena is an opportunity for women to democratise the whole financial field and create a level playing field for women.

It’s a huge opportunity. I would like to really look at how we could build networks for women, partnerships in the investment community, social investment clubs, potentially a mentorship program as well, or even working on webinars or panel discussions, as we did in March with Female Fintech Futures.

So I think there’s a great opportunity to partner up with various players to help women get to the same level as men have been so that they really can master the whole area of finance.

Suppose you could go back to the beginning of your career. What kind of advice would you give yourself?

I would tell myself to partner up with somebody who will give me good advice while also challenging me a bit, someone who would guide me with a longer-term perspective and help me plan ahead, opening my eyes on how to best structure my investments so that I have the best strategy in place for me.

But also to keep in mind that I should reward myself: Once per year, I would withdraw a certain percentage, buying something I long for, making my loved ones happy with a nice family trip, contributing to a good cause… Investment is about discipline and rigour, but it should be rewarding both in the short term and long term.

Do you think it is more important for women to have another woman as an advisor, or that we should be more working towards educating men to properly advise women?

I think we need to work on both strategies. Women investors will certainly appreciate having women advisors to guide them, while others will really appreciate the advice of men.

We need to be sure that a woman investor will get the same service, access to knowledge, and guidance, whether they are in front of a male or female advisor.

While doing a survey a few weeks ago, we found that the reasons why women and men choose not to invest are different. Women don’t invest because they think they don’t know enough to do so. So, we could say it’s not just a resource problem. It’s also a sociological and educational problem of women not being confident enough in their aptitude and knowledge. Would you say that the financial community needs to start working with kids or teenagers about financial resources for young men and women?

Yes, definitely. The educational aspect will be very important to truly level the playing field between men and women. The earlier we can start, the better it is for us. In my point of view, as a mother and financial professional, we can do a lot more to improve financial health from a young age. The benefits are tremendous.

Thank you so much for your time, Marie!

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About the author

Victoria is a Berlin-based social media manager and content writer. For the past five years, she’s written and managed a blog reviewing books, movies and recipes. She joined the i-vest team in 2021, writing for both the i-vest website and the i-vest social media accounts.

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