Meeting Topic


By Jennifer Myers

Why is it that women are historically ‘behind the 8 ball’ when it comes to building wealth and financial independence? And what small steps can we take to begin to get ahead? Read the article below and identify one small thing you will commit to doing to look after your financial independence.

The Importance of Financial Independence By Liz Brown Douglas & Emma Monaghan

Are you wanting to feel empowered and in control of your own future?  We are sure that is a pretty easy question to answer which is why today we are seeing more women taking control of their financial futures. Gone are the days when women relied solely on their partners or family members to manage their investments and run the family cheque account.

Historically, women have faced numerous challenges when it comes to financial independence. The gender pay gap, societal expectations, and access to financial education have all been contributing factors. The result of these is that women were less likely to invest and build their future wealth.

It is pleasing to see that times are changing. The gender pay gap is a public policy issue and corporates are increasingly reporting against the same, societal norms are being challenged and financial literacy opportunities are more plentiful thanks to media and technology.

This is important for several reasons. Firstly, the gender pay gap has been real and data shows that in some industries, women continue to earn less. Wage disparity means women may have less money to invest and build their wealth. Taking control and investing the hard-earned money they do have is key.

Secondly, life expectancy differs between the sexes. On average, women tend to live longer than men, which means they need to plan for a longer retirement period. This includes not only saving for retirement but also investing in assets that can generate income and provide financial security during retirement.

Thirdly, women may face life circumstances that require financial flexibility. That might include career breaks to raise children or support aging parents. The resultant impact on careers and therefore earnings potential and savings can be real.

Finally, beyond practical points like the above, there is the very real psychological benefit we see in women who take control through actively managing their finances. We generally observe increased confidence and financial literacy and with that, a sense of control and independence that can flow through into other aspects of their wellbeing.

From our perspective while progress is evident, there is still more work to do and we encourage all women regardless of age and stage to invest time and energy into educating themselves about financial matters. is a great independent resource and has numerous tools where you can work through information relevant to you.

Other approaches can be as simple as understanding choice around interest rates in relation to your mortgage or how to restructure the loan and repayments. It might also mean being in active discussions with your KiwiSaver provider, understanding the risk level you are accepting inside the fund you are in and to the extent it is important to you, how socially responsible investment is taken into account.

Don’t be afraid to have a conversation with your girlfriends and family members about financial matters. Normalise it and ask questions when you don’t understand what you have received in the mail or watch on the evening news.

Engage with a professional adviser. Our days are often full of conversation with people who just want reassurance around news and current events and what that means to their situation. For us this is a favourite part of the job. Being able to share information and help others succeed with their goals is how we all move forward to financial independence and control our futures.

Liz Brown Douglas whose views and opinions are expressed in this article, is an Associate Investment Adviser with Forsyth Barr in Auckland and Emma Monaghan is an Investment Adviser with Forsyth Barr in Auckland East. To arrange a meeting to discuss your investment objectives in confidence, contact Liz Brown Douglas or  Emma Monaghan directly. For further information on our people and services, please visit our website



Next Meeting Topic


Want to actually achieve your goals this year? Gamify them! We’re all at least a little bit competitive. In the article below, contributed by Ann Cooper-Smith, you’ll learn what gamification is and how you can use it in your day-to-day routine to smash your goals and have fun along the way!

Gamify Your Goals – Money or Otherwise! By Ann Cooper-Smith

I was a girl who didn’t tidy her bedroom, until my mother started a star chart system. Mum made a wall chart and before bedtime she’d check my room.  If my room was tidy, I got a gold star.

There was no other incentive.  No pocket money reward, nor a treat for a certain number of gold stars. But since I desperately wanted gold stars my room was kept tidy.

I haven’t changed.  When I want to achieve something, I track my goals – a calendar tick each day I don’t drink alcohol, weight recording, and debt reduction.  I mentioned this to a friend and she said “Oh, you’re gamifying your goals!”.

SMART goals

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. My goals are SMART because I have specific targets for alcohol free days per week, my weight, and debt reduction.

Making the invisible visible

Visible score boards tracking KPIs (key performance indicators) are powerful…  “if you’re not keeping score it’s only practice”.  If the All Blacks played the Springboks and didn’t keep score, then we wouldn’t bother to watch.

Recently, a client started a score board to record warehouse boxes dispatched each day. Within 3 months, box numbers had increased 33% without any change in personnel!  The warehouse team was competing against themselves – and winning.

A recent survey of accounting firms unsurprisingly found that the lowest performing quartile included the highest proportion that didn’t keep timesheets.

Choosing goals

Choose goals carefully – chasing one goal may have unintended consequences (for example, I snack if I don’t drink).  Ensure your goals align with each other, as well as with your core values.

And, when it comes to goals “less is more”.  Tracking one to three goals is about right.

Despite being an accountant, complex KPI tracking spreadsheets don’t work for me. A simple hand drawn chart on the wall is hard to beat.

So, how to gamify your goals (financial or otherwise)?

Firstly, decide the three KPIs that would have the biggest impact on your financial or business success – for example recording productive time, sales calls, personal spending, or debt reduction.

Secondly, check your goals are SMART.

Thirdly, create a visible tracking system that is easy and fun to use!

And lastly, keep at it. If you miss one day / week / month then make a commitment to succeed the next day / week / month.  Keeping score, and winning, is fun!

If you’d like to get better acquainted with Ann, check out her website:  or email

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