Wealth management expert Alice Finn (F88) is the prime example of a Fletcher alumna. She pays it forward — Finn founded PowerHouse Assets to help women tackle finances with confidence — and sets high goals and achieves them. Finn recently released her book, Smart Women Love Money: Five Simple, Life-Changing Rules of Investing, to help women get their start in investing.
On Wednesday Nov. 1, Finn returned to The Fletcher School to take part in the Institute for Business in the Global Context (IBGC) Speaker Series and in true Fletcher style, she brought along a fellow alumna and PowerHouse Assets colleague, Ralitza Gueorguieva (F05). IBGC Director of Corporate Relations Dorothy Orszulak introduced Finn to an engaged crowd — of both genders. Finn answered every question asked thoughtfully and passionately, sharing her five top tips:
- Invest stocks long-term
- Allocate assets
- Implement index finds
- Rebalance regularly
- Keep fees low
In a Q&A before the event, Finn revealed her motivation for starting her company, shared her best financial tip and explained how her Fletcher experience prepared her for her career.
- You founded PowerHouse Assets to help women become more engaged in their financial future. What inspired you to start the company?
I noticed both in my professional and personal life that women were not paying enough attention to investing for their future. We have made so many strides in so many areas, but when it comes to getting our money to work for us, we still seem to have a blind spot. And since the stock market doesn’t care if you are a man or a woman, there is no glass ceiling impeding us from being successful in this important area of our lives. So, I started PowerHouse Assets to help more women get the power of investing to work for them.
- Your book, Smart Women Love Money, arms women with the tools necessary to get smart about their finances and dip their toes into investing. Why, in your opinion, are so many women hesitant to invest?
In general, women don’t picture themselves as investors. Instead, most women think of an investor as a man with white hair, when in reality anyone who has money in a retirement account and/or is hoping to earn a return on their money to use in the future is an investor. We all need to be investors to live the life we want to live in the future – investing will give us opportunities and choices that we otherwise may not have. But because we don’t picture ourselves as investors, we don’t dive in and learn. Then, the longer we wait, the less confidence we have in our abilities in this area, so it’s a vicious cycle that I want to change.
- If Fletcher students take one lesson away from your talk, what do you hope that is?
That it’s important to learn to invest for your future. Then, once you are earning money, start investing as soon as possible with whatever money you can in the simple, low-cost way that my book explains.
- You’re a wealth management expert. What’s the most common piece of advice you give your clients?
Don’t try to time the markets. Most likely, anything you are thinking about is already priced into the current stock market valuation. Instead, it’s surprises that will move the markets, and by definition you can’t predict surprises. Come up with a target asset allocation and then stick with it by rebalancing in a disciplined way. This is actually the best way to sell high and buy low.
- You’re a Fletcher Board Member and an active alumna. How did your Fletcher education prepare you for the work you’re doing now?
I invest globally, so I wake up every day wanting to understand what’s happening around the world. I can’t think of a better education for that than a Fletcher education. As a student, I took courses in international trade and business, and in diplomacy and international law. I also focused on Asia, especially Japan. All of these subjects – and knowing how to think about them and how to continue to learn about them over time – are still important today. Also, I can always reach out to the Fletcher alumni network if I want more information or help on something. The global Fletcher community is always welcoming and willing to help a fellow alum; it’s a wonderful lifetime membership.Finally, there is an increasing recognition at Fletcher, and in international affairs in general, that gender issues are an integral part of international issues. Helping women achieve their potential globally can improve the world in so many ways. Throughout my education, I’ve been interested in this dynamic. My current mission – to get the power of investing working for more women and to give us the power of choices and opportunities for our future – is my way of paying it forward, so in turn more women can choose how best to use their own potential to contribute to the world.