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The Doctor will see you now: How money problems can affect physical and mental wellbeing and why for some women the only way is ethics

 

My name is Dr Nikki Ramskill, and I am a UK-based GP Registrar, with a specialist interest in how money affects my patients and colleagues both mentally and physically. I have plenty of personal experience of making money mistakes throughout my 20s!

After I realised that things in my financial life needed to change, I started noticing money problems among my patients – the so called ‘elephant’ in the room.

Money problems stop patients from taking time off work to get well or attend clinic appointments. It stops them from purchasing their prescriptions or eating healthily. It leads to numerous mental health problems like anxiety and depression, and can lead to burnout and stress in the workplace.

It’s a big problem that as a GP, I had no idea how to start addressing.

‘It leads to numerous mental health problems like anxiety and depression, and can lead to burnout and stress in the workplace’

This inspired me to write about my experiences and what I am learning in the world of personal finance so that I can help others to avoid doing the same. In turn, my hope is that they can improve their overall health and well-being and reduce the stress in their lives.

And So The Female Money Doctor was born!

On my website, I cover topics that I think are useful for women in particular, as I enjoy working with and for women, and I wanted to add my voice to the growing body of female personal finance bloggers and experts.

One of the issues that particularly interests me is how women are not investing as much as men are, and I want to do what I can to help change that.

Women are more likely to outlive their male partners, and are far more likely to end up in poverty in old age. Investing in a pension and in additional accounts like stocks and shares ISAs could go a long way to prevent this from happening; yet investing is not on the radar for many people.

 

Why Aren’t More Women Investing?

 

It’s seen as complicated, risky and as a consequence, unsafe. The financial industry has long been a domain for men, and women are still a minority voice in the masses.

Films like ‘Wolf of Wallstreet’, while entertaining, hardly improve the industry’s image. Even the terminology we use of bears and bulls to describe the performance of the markets is strongly masculine – it’s no wonder that many women are put off.

Thankfully however there is a movement building in women’s finance; more and more women are taking control of the finances at home, and more women are out-earning their spouses than ever before.

But coming from a financial lay-person perspective, investing still isn’t mainstream.

I was a having a conversation with some friends over drinks a few weeks ago, and only one of them had an investing account recommended by a financial advisor.

I asked the others why they didn’t invest, or even why they chose not to learn how to. All of them cited over-complication and difficulty and hence not enough time to learn.

Now these are intelligent women – all doctors.

‘lack of spare money, lack of understanding and concern over losing money were all reasons cited for not wanting to invest’

How could it be that they thought this was hard to understand after gruelling away for many years at medical school to learn about the human body? It’s hardly child’s play!

I posed the same question to my female Facebook community out of curiosity. This group is full of intelligent professional women of a wide variety of backgrounds, occupations and ages who are interested in personal finance.

A more financially-savvy crowd perhaps? Would the same reasoning apply to them too?

Sure enough, lack of spare money, lack of understanding and concern over losing money were all reasons cited for not wanting to invest. However one reason stood out to me in particular and had me intrigued.

The reason this woman gave?

‘I don’t like the idea of my money going to companies that cause more harm than good in the world’.

Essentially she was talking about the lack of perceived ‘ethical’ investing options. Bingo.

 

Could Ethical Investing Be The Key?

 

Ethical investing is NOT a new phenomenon. Modern Muslims who follow Sharia law (which goes back centuries) are absolutely not allowed to invest in any company that has dealings with tobacco, alcohol, armaments, gambling, pork, pornography or drugs.

‘I don’t like the idea of my money going to companies that cause more harm than good in the world’

This then poses the problem – how do people who follow Sharia Law build savings or invest their money without investing in companies that are strictly not allowed?

 

Well of course the answer is ethical investing!

 

Companies who manage the money of people who follow Sharia Law have strict criteria for where money can be invested. If it goes against the Law, then it is not included.

For many women, they too would like to put their money into worthwhile causes and would make them feel happier to invest. This concept is so important to them that they’d rather not invest at all for fear of giving money to something they do not agree with.

This means that the traditional investment landscape NEEDS TO CHANGE to accommodate their choices.

Thankfully it is starting to.

 

What’s Out There Now?

 

Ethical and more conscious-style investing is a new, but growing market. It’s hardly surprising that they are more expensive by comparison than say, the FTSE 250 (0.85-1% per annum vs. 0.09%-0.18% respectively) but with time this is likely to improve, especially as demand increases.

This is Money have an interesting article about some funds and bonds that are looking at ethical companies, and Hargreaves Lansdown have created a list of funds that have become available.

However, the funds listed are also expensive by comparison to traditional investment funds (the passive kind at least).

In addition to this, Triodos Bank is offering ethical funds and peer-to-peer lending options. Triodos say that they are the only specialist bank to offer integrated lending and investment opportunities for sustainable sectors in a number of European countries. So if they can do it, where is everyone else?

 

What Else Is Coming?

 

Well I’m glad you asked…..I have recently been using a NEW feature on a robo-app called Plum. Plum started life as a savings-app in a bid to get more people saving without much effort on their part. It’s incredibly effective and becoming more and more popular.

They are now also allowing individuals to INVEST some of those savings into funds starting from as little as £1. The options include a purely ethical fund.

It is still in a kind-of beta phase at the moment, with individuals needing to apply to a waiting list. The cost is a fund charge of 1.05% plus £1 per month for using the platform.

Plum currently does not show full details about exactly WHAT is included in these funds, but of the ones they do cite, the breakdown is as follows:

 

  • 47% NMC Health PLC
  • 91% is in Fevertree Drinks PLC
  • 59% Bellway PLC
  • 22% Prudential PLC
  • 94% Howden Joinery Group PLC

 

The remaining 81.87% is in ‘other’; when I enquired about this, I was told that it would eventually become available, but because they are still in the early phases of this technology, they don’t have everything up and running fully just yet.

 

So Will Ethical Investing Encourage More Women?

 

Time will tell I think. There is still a gap of knowledge that needs filling first. Women need to know WHY investing is such an important concept for everyone to learn to secure their retirements.

Even if they never put together their own portfolios, at least finding out what questions to ask of where their money is going (like in their pension for example), the better it will be for them financially.

In my opinion, the more diverse voices there are out there talking about investing the better.

If you want to visit me, feel free to check out my website over at:

 

 

dr nikki

 

 





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