Managing money has been a taboo, and a big fear factor for many women of our generation. Good news is that change is on its way. A change not only in how we work our savings but also in our mindset. More and more women are discussing personal finance and some are even talking of swapping saving for investment. In other words, getting their money to work for itself. In this interview, we are talking with Molly Kapoor, Head of Marketing at Aditya Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund. From making a start to tips, get to know this boss lady’s journey.

Q. What career tips have helped you flourish?

A. In a career spanning two decades, there are many learnings that have been strong enablers in my professional journey. But there are some essential guiding factors that have remained at the core. To begin with, always keeping a positive outlook and never shying away from working on greenfield projects has been one of my strengths. It is only when one takes the leap of faith, takes the chance, that one gets to understand her own capabilities. I have also believed in continuously being a student and keeping an open mind to learn new things. When you work in a team, it is important to acknowledge everybody’s opinion and respect the value that my colleagues and teams bring to the table. For a team to work cohesively it is a must to value everybody’s contribution. And last but not the least, I don’t forget the people who believed in me and my capabilities and with all humility stay ever so grateful to my mentors and the people who helped me stay on course.

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Q.Why does the mutual fund industry need to tap the women’s market?

A. Firstly there is a need gap as far as women coming into the fold of formal investing is concerned. While there are more women who now invest in mutual funds, there is still a lot of ground to cover. According to the Global Findex Survey (2017) by World Bank 77% of Indian women own a bank account against 43% in 2014. Though the formal savings numbers are still low but consider the scope that it exhibits in terms of the number of women coming into mainstream money management. With Government initiative and policy push, as we see more girls attaining formal education, eventually taking up jobs, this will open up the opportunity to introduce them to investment tools such as mutual funds. Mutual funds can create the habit of disciplined long term investing with facilities such as an SIP and also provides diversification in asset allocation, as well as the option to choose from various schemes as per one’s risk appetite. So both from a segmental opportunity perspective, as well as from a financial inclusion point of view to empower women, the mutual fund industry needs to increasingly tap into this.

 

Molly Kapoor, Head - Marketing, Aditya Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund
Molly Kapoor, Head – Marketing, Aditya Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund

Q. As a potential clientele how do you market to women that’s different from the usual investor?

A. I think the one big difference in reaching out to women is that we have to nudge two habits together:

  1. We want women to actively participate in managing their personal and family investments, which traditionally is done by men
  2. To consider and choose Mutual Funds within their asset allocation

One of the first step towards this is creating more awareness. It all begins with first understanding that investing is important. So that’s our starting point and then talking in a language they understand and curating communication of the relevant offerings and solutions accordingly.

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Q. What are some FAQs by women when it comes to making financial decisions?

A. Usually, the first question is where to begin. There’s a lot of material online to self- learn and there are also financial experts for guidance. Take one step at a time and then expand as you get comfortable with taking financial decisions.

The second question usually is whether a particular financial instrument is right for the individual. We must understand that in a financial plan, each instrument has a role to play. So doing a personal need, risk and goal-based assessment is important.

Mutual funds can create the habit of disciplined long term investing with facilities such as an SIP and also provides diversification in asset allocation, as well as the option to choose from various schemes as per one’s risk appetite.

Women seeking this knowledge must reach out to qualified Financial Planners.

Q. What are the biggest traps that women fall into?

A. I think the biggest trap is the lack of proactiveness to make a personal financial plan for themselves. Women should take charge of their own money and when required resort to expert advice. Here’s the thing, there are studies that show women are much more mindful with their investments and tend to outperform when it comes to returns on their investments. So don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do something.

 

Molly Kapoor, Head - Marketing, Aditya Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund
Molly Kapoor, Head – Marketing, Aditya Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund

Also as human beings we must always have a contingency plan. As women, sometimes we fail to understand our own life stages and its priorities. Take for example, women tend to outlive men. While that is a brute fact, how many of us take heed and plan our finances around it.

Another major trap to fall into is to copy somebody’s financial choices blindly. Always assess basis your own goal, risk appetite and time horizon. In investment it is not one size fits all.

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Q. What would you have done differently throughout your career?

A. I am pretty satisfied with what has come my way, especially given the fact that I come from a very small town which had very limited resources. I have met and worked with a lot of amazing people. I could probably have tried to work in another industry, well, I am thinking, now just because you asked, else I am quite satisfied with having been in Tech (1994-97), Design (1997-99), and then in Financial Services – AMC (1999 onwards).

Q. What have been your key milestones in your journey?

Every time I moved out of my comfort zone has been a milestone, or rather, a springboard for me. I didn’t keep a linear approach to my career, took up what I was trusted with and made sure it turns out fine! This helped me experience varied opportunities.

I think the biggest trap is the lack of proactiveness to make a personal financial plan for themselves

. Women should take charge of their own money and when required resort to expert advice.

A. Moving from a branch to handling the largest zone in the country was one such springboard. Moving to a National role was another big step forward. From a National role of managing 60+ team members to starting off a new department which had only one team member was another springboard. Then moving on to handling 200+ people across the country and skill sets, created a whole new dynamics. This was followed by changing from my core expertise and moving into Marketing.

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Well, the list is long, but my most cherished milestone was when I did my second post-graduation while working! It challenged and stretched me to another level of capacity and capability.

Q. Why is it important to be financially independent?

A. Financial independence cannot be an option, it is mandatory. Being financially independent not only provides with the freedom to design one’s life in the manner one chooses but also creates a safety net for any eventualities in life. We have to take cognisance of our lifecycle, the changing social and professional dynamics, future economic conditions, family requirements etc.

The whole concept of unlocking the value of money through financial instruments still needs to reach a wider cross section. As a country we also need to encourage and induct more women into the mainstream workforce. This will translate into higher regular earning, followed by higher regular investing, followed by higher quality of life.

Q. Three tips to your younger self?

  1. Incorporate fitness into life throughout, and not at a life stage.
  2. Live life without fearing judgement
  3.  Not be in a hurry to grow up; stay childlike for some more years!

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