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Meet the Mind the Gap Team

Viktorija Kravcova,Karolina Decker, Kirsty Pollock and Leitha Matz (left to right) are the cofounders of Mind the Gap, an organisation dedicated to empowering and encouraging women by sharing knowledge about wealth and finance. Here, the team talk about their diverse backgrounds and motivations, and the importance of transparency and negotiation skills in closing the gender gap.

First, some introductions.

KD: I studied finance and banking. I worked for a number of banks in Poland and Germany. In 2012, I met my husband and moved to Berlin, where I started working for Deutsche Bank in the compliance department. I have long been thinking about starting something like Mind the Gap, and finally launched it last year, while on maternity leave with my second child. I’m very active in the financial world, and noticed there are only men there. Why? Why aren’t women talking about this topic? I met Leitha, and together we decided to start a community to help women talk about finance. Viktorija and Kirsty were among our first event members, and they came to us and asked to be involved.

LM: I’m COO and cofounder of a fintech company called Zuper, and have worked in technology for 20 years. It’s always been exciting, but it hasn’t always been fair or easy. I got really passionate about women and money as I got into management. Once I started hiring, I realised that women come into a job and don’t ask for any benefits. I would offer a woman a job and she would simply accept; whereas, when offered the very same job, a man would ask about compensation. I realised there was something going on. As much as I could do as a manager to make things equivalent for my team, it’s not enough, because this is happening all over the place. When I met Karolina, we started talking about this topic and how passionate we both were about it. It seemed like a good idea to talk about it: To turn it from a private issue to a public discussion.

I was really looking for a niche where things could be done to empower women.

KP: I’ve been a software developer and IT consultant for most of my working life, and I also write and perform rock songs. I worked as a consultant for investment banks in City of London, and gained a background interested in investing from my parents. I’ve always been very aware that money is power. When you’ve saved, invested or at least have control over your debt and expenses, you can walk away from a job if you’re being badly treated. I have done this several times in my life! It’s only something you can do if you’ve got control over your debts and expenses. Power is something that women particularly need and are short of, because of the gender pay gap. If you have an equal amount of money, you can almost have an equal status in the world. Almost…

VK: As art director and graphic designer, I’m the creative part of the team. I have a background in psychology. While growing up, I never noticed gender inequality: I saw my friends have issues, but put them down to individual personalities rather than a systemic problem. At some point, though I realised there is a gender difference. I started my own initiative for women’s empowerment, but was really looking for a niche where things could be done. I came to the very first MtG Meetup and thought it was amazing. I’m not so experienced in the financial world, but bring creativity to help women act; to motivate them and give them the tools to change things.

Why do we need to talk more about money, wealth and salary?

KD: At the moment, only two percent of financial advisors recognise the need to tailor their services to women. Finance is complex. There is no transparency. It’s a boy’s club; women don’t have a seat at the table.

Women have only been allowed to open a bank account since 1972. In many European countries, there’s still a mindset that women are linked to family. But actually, it’s not so difficult to start doing personal budgeting. I think many women need this “aha moment”—something has to happen in their personal or financial life, where they realise that it’s important to be accountable for their own finances. In an ideal world, we’d start with the younger generation. We don’t learn how to manage money at school—how to set up a bank account, how to start saving, how to invest.

Finance is complex. There is no transparency. It’s a boy’s club; women don’t have a seat at the table.

KP: Here in Germany, job salaries are not advertised. It drives me mad. We don’t talk about money until the very end of the application process—and you have to give them a figure. I wasn’t used to it, and I consider myself quite bolshy. It would be a good start to see a salary range upfront in job ads.  Money may be power, but so is knowledge. I’m surprised when I find out that people don’t know what their market value is. I’ve been a job-hopper because of just that, and was able to double my salary every couple of years by going from job to job. When people find out what’s going on, if they know there’s a massive gap between what different people are getting paid, then change will have to happen. It puts the power back into our hands, rather than the hands of companies.

LM: I had an early lesson in this. Working in the accounting dept of a company, I noticed  discrepancies: people who work their way up slowly through a company and spend a long time there are paid much less than people who job hop. I mentioned this out loud and was removed from the role. The experience taught me how secrecy benefits companies, and how much that hurts individuals: They have no idea they’ve fallen behind or could have asked for more money.

Why are negotiation skills important?

LM: Having a bit of money in the bank means you can walk taller, or walk away. Knowing that no matter what happens, you’re fine. As a manager, I know there is sometimes a cap on what you can offer people, but as an employee there are always other things you can ask for—time off, a bonus in six months, revenue share. There are many ways you can divide the pie so you get fair compensation. Know what your value is, know what the market rate is. You can find those things out. Once you know, you can stand up for yourself.

It’s about building that confidence. Once piece of advice I always give women is this: Pretend you’re negotiating on behalf of a woman you care about. It puts you in a different frame of mind. Give yourself the advocacy you would give to one of your closest friends.

KP: Know what value you’ve added to the company, and put it in terms that management understands. If you are their best salesperson, make that clear. If you’re not providing value then ask yourself: Do I need more training? Where could I add more value?

Having a bit of money in the bank means you can walk taller, or walk away.

KD: The problem at the moment is that women don’t feel confident with this whole money topic. We don’t ask for a raise. A lot of the time, women start with a lower salary because they don’t negotiate at the outset. At MtG, we can help women learn how to negotiate, be confident about what they bring to the company, and what they can get in return.

What does Mind the Gap mean to you?

KD: I really feel that with these events, we can change something. We can show women that money needn’t be a source of stress and worry. We can explain in an easy and entertaining way. That’s why we don’t charge for events—it goes against the whole concept. As a mother, I’ve realised even more why it’s so important to take care of finances. I’m thinking about my children—they are the trigger for all this, actually. We noticed at the first event that there are many interested women who want to know more.

LM: For me it’s about having these conversations in a public setting: The ability to ask any question you like, to get clarification, and connect with people.

KP: It’s about knowledge and the exchange of knowledge, and the feeling of being able to really help someone by sharing your own insight. We have people here with all levels of knowledge, and you can always find someone who knows more or less than you about a particular topic, so there’s the chance both to learn and give back. You can have a conversation in this safe setting where everyone is advocating for each other

VK: It’s so different from what I do in my career. Talking about money really is sexy. Now I get why men like to do it! I even feel powerful just talking about it, whether or not I actually have it. I feel like we’re getting closer. The fight for gender equality went quiet for awhile, but now the door is opening again.

It’s about knowledge and the exchange of knowledge, and the feeling of being able to really help someone by sharing your own insight.

Your top piece of advice for women who want to take control of their finances?

LM: The women I know tend to prioritise everything before themselves. This has an impact on their investments. So, you have to make it a priority. Don’t put it aside.

KP: Know where your money is coming from, and know where it is going. As I keep saying, knowledge is power.

KD: Start doing your personal budgeting, and start now. Just use Excel, log your income and spending and try to figure out how you can save a little.

VK: We as women work very hard to make our money. It’s time to start making money work for you.

 

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Work With Us

 

There are plenty of ways to engage with us at Mind the Gap, each one a great alignment with our core mission focused on helping women achieve their financial goals.

WE PUBLISH GREAT WRITING

Read by readers around the world. Be heard!!

How to pitch to us:

Email your story idea, plus a short introduction of yourself, to: hallo@mindthegaphub.com

BRAND ENGAGEMENT, SPONSORED CONTENT or additional AUDIENCE ACCESS

CORPORATE TRAINING, CONSULTING, ADVISING

We can work with your company in the following ways:

  • Diversity Workshops & Training
  • Gender Sensitivity Workshops & Training
  • Internal events
  • Consulting
  • Speaking

EVENTS

We also do a number of targeted community events each year:

  • Breakfasts, lunches or dinners with influencers or key target audiences
  • Special events and panel discussions, campaign launches, training sessions, virtual roundtables

OUR NETWORK OF FEMALE CHANGEMAKERS

The Mind the Gap mission ist to close the many gender gaps that exist today. As a networking organization, we know that we make more progress when we work together, collaborate, and share ideas.

We are looking for Media Partners, non-profit Partners and Event Partners that share our values. We would love to work with You.

Contact us: hallo@mindthegaphub.com

FREE MEMBERSHIP

Apply to join our community of professional women committed to elevating each other through financial education, inspiration, and opportunity.

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Women Mean Business

Governments and private sector players are catching on to what we’ve always known—women are good for business and good for the economy. Women hold roughly 30 percent of private wealth globally and nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of women express strong interest in learning more about finances and retirement planning, according to an Allianz study.

The increasing recognition of what we women can bring to the party is clear. Women have an ability to juggle complexity and see a holistic perspective. We focus on long-term thinking  when it comes to making decisions. We deliver a better customer service and better public image for a company due to our higher worker engagement and better morale.

Studies show that companies with women in leadership positions are healthier on every level, and can bring out the best for everyone. McKinsey estimates that women working at their full potential could add up to $ 53.3 trillion to annual global GDP by 2025. Smart companies have figured out that women deserve a raise nor because just because it’s fair, but also because women bring qualities that make companies more innovative and show higher stockholder returns.

During rounds of research for Mind the Gap, we interviewed many women. We discovered that:

Women are financial decision makers.

Women are taking an increasingly active role in determining how their families save, spend and plan for the future. We are working and earning much more than ever before. In addition, because women tend to live average five years longer in Germany, they have a better than average chance of inheriting assets or a business at some point.

Women are more loyal and profitable clients.

We are an important source for referrals and stay for long periods with people we trust. Moreover, women have equal (or even better) credit scores than men and are more likely to receive high-cost loans.

Women have higher grades than men.

More women graduate college and have a Master’s degree. Constant learning and improving of professional qualifications leads to higher innovations and better results for a company.

Long-term thinking about women’s careers and improving our financial health boosts security for women, their families and society as a whole. We can increase women’s access to relevant financial information, products and services that can empower them to better manage daily finances, weather emergencies and other unexpected expenses like medical payments, and meet long-term financial goals.

A fairly paid woman with access to information and education is unstoppable.

 

 

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The Gender Wealth Gap

 

Wealth: The Missing Piece of the Gender Gap Puzzle

Awareness of the gap between men and women’s experience of the world and its opportunities has perhaps never been greater—from the #MeToo movement and its ongoing ripples of reform, to a swathe of schemes that address income inequality. But what about wealth inequality? Though it gets little attention, the gender wealth gap is an important piece of the puzzle.

The gender gap may be closing, but progress is painfully slow. Huge leaps in the numbers of women in education and employment have not been proportionally represented in the overall difference between men and women’s income. In Germany, women earn on average 21 percent less than men, and are are underrepresented in top jobs across almost all sectors.

Focusing on wealth can help see the picture more clearly, and explain why the gender gap remains so great.

What is wealth and why is it important to the gender gap?

Wealth, by definition, is the difference between an individual’s assets and liabilities. It is also the ability to pay for higher education or an emergency expense, the freedom to buy a home or save for retirement. In short, wealth is security and financial freedom.

“The wealth gap is a much more meaningful gap both in terms of overall economic stability and how well women are able to provide for their own future and their family’s future,” said Mariko Chang, a former sociology professor at Harvard University and author of Shortchanged: Why Women Have Less Wealth and What Can Be Done About It.

Why is there a gender wealth gap?

Women generally earn less, and are more likely to take up part-time work or have career breaks to care for family and do domestic labour. This means that, compared to men, women have less money to invest in the first place—and, due to the long-term nature of those disadvantages, the deficit is compounded over time. What’s more, women have a longer average lifespan and lower incomes in retirement, so must rely even more heavily on savings and investment than men do. When you add it up, it’s not surprising (though still shocking) to learn that 30 percent of women in the EU live in poverty after retirement.

Women make different investment decisions to men.

We live in a man’s world. The entire banking system was built by men, and as such, it remains a place that’s much more weighted towards the lifestyles, priorities and worldviews of the male half of the population. A UBS survey revealed that only one in five women in the US say they are confident about their financial knowledge, and many feel their wealth managers do not understand them or their needs (and they would be right—just 2 percent of wealth managers see women as an audience with specific requirements).

Research suggests that differences in gender perceptions have a real effect on investment decisions. For example, according to a UBS report, “women have a tendency to perceive wealth more as a source of security, rather than an opportunity, and therefore place more value in leaving a legacy to their loved ones.” Studies also show that women are more risk aversebut also that they more disciplined, prefering to invest in companies with a meaningful mission.

How can we close the gender wealth gap?

We can work on income parity, and making the workplace a more just environment for primary caregivers and part-time employees. But there’s something else we can do, right now, to address the gender wealth gap and its implications: Personalised financial advice that’s tailored to women’s lifestyles, concerns and objectives. By investing in strategies that promote asset building, increase financial stability, and help women build a solid financial base for themselves and their families, we can lay the groundwork for true equality.    

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Why Mind the Gap?

Ladies, money is power and it’s time to take a place at the table!!

That’s where Mind the Gap comes in. We organise events, produce digital series & podcasts to answer all your financial questions.

Mind the Gap Team will show you how to smart invest, ask for a raise, save for retirement and manage your professional career. We will also shatter 4 myths surrounding women and money, such as:

Myth 1: Money is a men’s issue.

WRONG! Mind the Gap talks about money! Our talented community talks about money as well. We are here to show you that money is sexy and you don’t need to finish financial studies to achieve financial freedom.

Myth 2: Women are not good investors. We would not say that.

Women are largely responsible for the managing of their family’s day-to-day finances and are more likely to make financial decisions that will affect the future of their families. The ability of women to stay the course and not react to or try to beat markets is one of the reasons the portfolios of women generate higher returns than those of men. Moreover, women shift to a long-term focus, save more up front and assume less risk, such as not loading up entirely on equities.

We – Women – want to understand what we are doing so that we can feel confident about our decisions around our investments. Men on the other hand focus more on how much money they can make based on their investments.

Myth 3: You need to devote hours to investment analysis and learning.

Take yourself out of your comfort zone and learn about investments; trust yourself, you will make good decisions. The more educated you are about money and investments, the better the money decisions you will make. Own your role as the household’s money manager and work with a financial adviser to plan for your family’s future.

Myth 4: If you’re saving there’s no need to invest.

Not true.

There is a big difference between saving and investing. And there’s nothing wrong with saving  – but it is not enough. Simply put, it’s highly unlikely you’ll achieve financial freedom or meet your life goals with just a savings account. Why? Because women in most developed countries receive lower retirement pensions than men. In the EU, women on average receive 39% less than men.

But if we can encourage more women to consider investing as a long-term alternative to cash savings, this could have a significant impact on reducing the investment gap, while providing a boost to the wealth generation of women, their families and the country at large.

Are you with us?