Good morning and welcome to my award nominated Breadwinning, Six Figure Women series!
Yes, that’s right, I said award nominated. I’m honored that this series has been nominated for a PLUTUS Award (basically THE financial blogging award) for best series. I’m so excited that female breadwinners, and wealthy/high earning women, are receiving this recognition. Of course, all the other nominees are amazing as well! I’m looking forward to FinCon in just a few weeks, where not only will I learn about how to bring better content to YOU, but I’ll also get to go to the award ceremony. Cross your fingers for me!
Today I have an awesome interview with Sunday Brunch Cafe. We’re Twitter friends, and I’m so glad she decided to do this interview. I really enjoyed learning more about her background – even though it includes an infuriating story of being denied a job because she “might want to start a family one day.” You’d think we were beyond these kinds of things, but NOPE! Unfortunately not.
So grab a cup of coffee, sit back and relax, and let’s get to know Sunday Brunch Cafe.
Tell us about yourself!
Hi! I’m a full time Portfolio Manager at a multinational bank. I’m single, but in a serious relationship. I live in Canada with a typical immigrant family background story – parents who worked 2 jobs each as labourers to put enough food on the table and roof over our heads. They drilled in education as ticket to better life (which still applies in Canada). When not working, I am practicing martial arts, watercolour painting and I’m obsessed with bullet journalling.
Let’s get some details – how much money do you make, and how long did it take you to get there? And are you a millionaire or are you on the way?
I make in six figures and it took me around 7 years to get here. Sometimes that seems short and sometimes that seems a slog. But to get here, I have a university degree and 2 professional designations. I’m not yet a millionaire but that is within striking distance. My bf and I have not yet combined finances, but expect our net worth to increase when we do (neither of us have debt besides mortgages)
How did you get started in the workforce?
I started in Finance by fluke! I took a temp job from an employment agency 2 weeks after university at a bank. Got interested in what they were doing in there and started learning up on it. About 6 months later, had a permanent position.
CMO Note – I also started in my field, IT, by fluke. I was an Accounting major and intended to go into finance or accounting, but sixteen years later, I’m still in IT.
How did you get from where you started to where you are now?
To become a portfolio manager from a lowly filing clerk (my temp job above), I had to pass the securities course to make full time, then a couple years of learning the ropes (and 2 years sabbatical to backpack South America & Asia), 3 grueling levels of the Chartered Financial Analyst program and another 2 years of the Chartered Alternative Investments Analyst program. All while working full time.
Where do you want to go in your career – and your financial life?
I’ve achieved my mid-term goal of becoming a Portfolio Manager, now I want to transition into a 2nd career of helping women achieve financial wealth and success. The framework of that is still fluid, but there is no “establishment” that fills this void yet (Ellevest only one but I’m not moving to NYC). So this is a practice that I’m starting up from the ground (while still working full time). I am aiming for significant earnings increase once that framework is established; it’s true that you don’t get rich working for someone else, so I hope to change that for me personally. I do aim for financial independence, but not early retirement.
What’s the biggest challenge in being a breadwinning woman? What’s the best part?
So much to unpack in this question! The biggest challenge of being a breadwinning single woman was the stigma of being “not marriage material” in the eyes of a lot of society. It was assumed that I’m a “ball buster” or I’m not “family oriented”, I was “too focused/serious”, “too feminist” – whatever that means! My city (and industry) is very “”conservative”” where it is expected that men & women fulfill traditional gender roles. I’ve had experience with interested suitors that seemed promising only for them to drop me cold as soon as they heard my job title or that I obtained my CFA. (happened more than once; we’d be chatting, flirting etc and then bam, totally ghosted after they learn what I do)
CMO Note – Well, at least by them doing that you knew they weren’t marriage material! Any man who’s intimidated or not interested in a successful woman is certainly not someone I’d want in my life.
The best part is exemplified by this story: one day, my gfs and I all treated ourselves to Tiffany jewelry; back at the office, the male portfolio managers started to say that guys are supposed to buy it for women etc, and I replied, yes, but if I buy it for myself, I know what is the true price I’m paying.
What do you see as the key to earning such a high salary?
The key for me has been 1) higher levels of education (again, this still works in Canada) and 2) being willing to assert myself in a male dominated industry. I also have a great leader/manager that allows me to grow and acquire business skills usually presented to men: strategy, decision making etc, and not just “organizing” & “coordinating” which are typical “female strengths”.
Have you ever experienced issues in the workforce because you’re a woman? What did you do in response?
Yes. They have assumed that I couldn’t do the work, I wasn’t smart enough or not willing to do the work. When I was still coming up the ranks, a senior exec asked me to apply for an equity analyst position with a fund manager he supervised. I checked literally every single box down to extra language skills AND time abroad in target countries – i.e. when I was traveling in Asia.
But during the interview process, he assumed that I couldn’t/wouldn’t put in the hours etc. because I’d want a family one day. But he framed it as since I hadn’t been investing since I was 16, I wasn’t “passionate enough” about the job. He hired a man that had basically the same resume but not the travel experience as me.
Chief Mom Officer is primarily a personal finance blog – tell us about your saving and investment strategy
I got interested in investments in my 20’s, but first saw this world in elementary school when I learned that my classmate’s parents had things called “”stock portfolios””. My immigrant parents didn’t. So I knew there was something there. But I had no one to ask until I was in my 20s (also, like many young women, I was too intimidated to ask). Then I made finance my job, my career, to learn as much as I can, from theory, my own experience, experience of clients, experience of other investors.
As for savings & investment strategies; I save a significant portion of my pay. I’m averaging 30% a year. Being single is expensive as you have to bear every cost alone. I expect to increase savings when my bf and I start living together. I save by paying myself first through automatic transfers: into 9 different accounts (some short term goals, some investment accounts) For investment strategy, I use passive ETFs but actively manage – not trade – the asset mix & allocation. i.e. hold S&P 500 with EAFE as core, then selectively add EM equity or debt or Prefs depending on market conditions.
I am trying to diversify my income streams to include rental income (on top of salary & financial assets) and side hustle.
I do take advantage of the company’s employee share ownership program. They also provide me with a defined benefit pension. On top of those, I max out all my tax shelters.
What’s the top three pieces of advice you’d have for someone just starting out in the workforce, struggling with their career, or just looking to improve how they handle their money?
Advice that has helped me:
1) Invest in yourself (i.e. me with my designations, but they can be anything; reading, workshops whatever that will make you qualified and valuable in a high income field).
2) Have patience – this one is hard, but advancement opportunity is a formula: timing x readiness = advancement. You can’t do anything about timing, but you can do something about being ready. It’s the adage; the harder you work, the luckier you become.
For handling money – 3) be not afraid to ask. Go ahead and look dumb. People will forget the question in a minute, but the information you gain is yours forever. Remember that there is no 1 right strategy to invest or budget. Do whatever works.
Where can people connect with you?
CMO Here Again
Thanks so much to Sunday Brunch Cafe for stopping by to share her story! I love hearing about how she succeeded in a field
I was actually having an interesting Twitter conversation the other day with my friend Athena from Money Smart Latina on the topic of dating advice and successful women. She’s heard advice before to leave your successes off your dating profile, because it might scare away men. Appearing too successful apparently turns them away!
Women out there, if someone is intimidated by your success, they aren’t the right person for you. You deserve a partner in life that will celebrate your successes. Someone who will be proud of your accomplishments, and generally love being with a successful, accomplished woman. Anyone who wouldn’t be interested because you’re “too successful” or “too smart” doesn’t deserve your awesomeness.
Also a big UGH to the fact that even today, hiring decisions are made on the basis of whether or not a woman might want a family. There are so many things wrong with that. First of all, not everyone wants to have kids. Second of all, moms with kids can be just as hard working and successful as people without kids. No one ever asks men if they plan to start families one day, or assumes that if they have kids they won’t work as hard. It’s unfortunate that we still have to deal with this stereotype.
Be sure to leave a comment or question for Sunday Brunch Cafe – I’m so glad she stopped by to share her story!
If you haven’t already, be sure to swing by my one-stop shop page for Breadwinning moms, featuring all my prior articles and interviews (plus some updates on prior interviewees!). Know someone that would be perfect for this series, or is that you? Hop over to my “Be Featured!” page to access the request form.
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