Anthea Gardner’s new book, Make Your Money Work for You is about to change the way you think about finance, and she shares some of her hints and tips with us.
Anthea Gardner never set out to be a finance writer. In fact, she didn’t set out to be an asset manager either – not after watching how many hours her father, feted as ‘the first non-white bank manager in South Africa’, invested in his profession! Yet after a former employer told her she ‘had the temperament of a trader’, she phoned a member of Standard Bank, told him he didn’t know her but should – and arranged a meeting. He agreed she would, indeed, make a fine trader and referred her to another industry player who helped her get a start in the industry.
Several years and a few companies later, Anthea is now managing partner at Cartesian Capital, making regular appearances as a market commentator on radio and TV. It was in this capacity that she caught the attention of Jonathan Ball Publishers, who urged her to share her knowledge in book form. ‘I was initially very sceptical,’ Anthea says. ‘Because this is an intensely competitive and highly critical industry, I was worried my peers – and clients – might find my approach simplistic.’
Then she had an ‘aha’ moment – simplicity is precisely what’s needed when it comes to finance.
‘I receive a lot of emails from people who want to know things like how they can double their money in one year, or the best way to invest R1 million. My answer is always the same – finance doesn’t work like that. I can’t give you any advice unless I know your situation, from your cash flow to your assets and liabilities. People want easy answers, but there aren’t any out there.’
That’s why Make Your Money Work for You is such a useful read. It’s different to other financial guides because it’s not step-by-step information that will help you make a million. Nor is it written in lofty tones that confound the average Joe. Its emphasis is pragmatic and useful, so when next you sit with your financial planner, you’ll know exactly what questions you should be asking. And in case you don’t yet have a financial planner, or are not exactly sure how one differs from an asset manager, there’s also a chapter to help you with that.
‘My aim was to help people gain a bit of insight into this world so they understand it better.’
What is the one message she hopes we take from reading the book? ‘There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to personal finance,’ Anthea answers.
‘Time is on your side now, so take full advantage of the wonders of compound interest.’
‘Everyone wants to do different things with their money, and that’s absolutely fine. One person can’t live without handbags, for example, while another has to get in an overseas trip every year. As long as you’re on track with your financial goals, you’re perfectly entitled – and you shouldn’t feel guilty about taking those pleasures.’
That’s one of the biggest mistakes women make, she adds. ‘We tend to feel less comfortable talking about money than men. It’s still regarded as a topic that’s impolite to discuss – yet I think it would be very healthy to ask your friends what they earn, because that knowledge would empower you to have money discussions at work and give you greater negotiating power,’ she says.
Women are also stuck in the trap of abdicating responsibility for their finances, she adds. ‘It’s as if we’re still stuck in the 60s, and not allowed to manage our own money.’
What advice would she give women to help them avoid these pitfalls? ‘First of all – and this is especially important for women in their twenties and thirties – take control of your financial situation right now! It’s never too soon to start investing. Obviously, it’s tricky to save money at this age because you haven’t reached your full earning potential, but putting away even a small amount every month will allow you to live less frugally later on. Time is on your side right now, so take full advantage of the wonders of compound interest.’
Anthea emphasises the importance of having a pension or retirement fund, as well as an emergency fund that can be called upon when unexpected expenses arise. The amount of money you set aside for each of these is up to you, she says. What matters, though, is that you have a clear understanding of your financial goals and divide your salary accordingly – if you can’t imagine life without a five-star getaway every now and then, factor it in, just as you would need to plan for school fees.
It’s probably best to consult a financial planner who can help you clarify these goals – and while you’re at it, ask to have your personal risk tolerance assessed. This will give you a clear picture of where you are right now, from a financial point of view, and how much risk you can take on in your current situation. That makes a great starting point when choosing where to invest. ‘Finally, whatever you do, whatever your ambitions or needs, resist the temptation to take money out of your pension fund. It’s almost impossible to catch up once you do.’
Anthea says writing the book is definitely a bucket list experience and she’s delighted when people refer to her advice. But she’s still addicted to the thrill of managing money and could never give up the satisfaction she derives from taking care of her clients’ financial well-being.
‘I’m obsessed by this job,’ she admits.
‘Although you need to be able to handle high levels of stress and anxiety, – and days when the market doesn’t work in my favour make me miserable – there are other days when I know I’ve made the right investment decisions for my clients, and I feel like an absolute hero!’
Longing to travel? Hoping to retire without money worries? Dreaming of a future with no financial stress? Investment specialist Anthea Gardner tells you how to get the most out of your cash in Make Your Money Work for You. She shows you how to grow your wealth to achieve your dreams. She explains key terms and describes how you can launch your financial future by investing just R100 a month – and put your money to work. Jonathan Ball, R230.