We caught-up with Ritu Vohora who is an Investment Director at M&G Investments. She has 12 years’ experience in investment management and tells us how women can flourish in this industry. She also provides her thoughts on personal investing and how this is essential over the long-term.
What was your path to becoming an Investment Director?
Having grown up in Kenya, with few female role models, I was keen to stand on my own two feet and make a name for myself. I graduated with an undergraduate degree in Accounting and Finance from Warwick Business School in 2003 and then did a masters in Management & Regulation of Risk at the London School of Economics in 2004.
I have always been good with numbers but equally have a creative side (I love drawing and painting!). Since I joined the industry I’ve worked in many roles from product development, business management, strategy and product launches, to working with investment teams, engaging with clients and using my creative flair to put together and deliver presentations. In my current role, I’ve had the opportunity to create a new function, whilst being a spokesperson at events and a regular contributor across various media channels.
“It’s your attitude not your aptitude that determines your altitude”
What can you recommend for younger women wanting to enter this world, would their career get a boost with a Finance Masters?
Whether you are looking to start or progress in the industry, networking and building relationships, especially with role models can be invaluable. Many women have successfully navigated the industry, often learning the hard way what works and what doesn’t. Learning and taking advise from them can help you manage your career goals the right way. “It’s your attitude not your aptitude that determines your altitude”, I love this quote and it’s one that resonated with me very early on in my career. The most important lesson I have learnt is that while your natural skills are important, your progress and success is determined by your ambition, drive and desire to succeed. Identify your attributes and factors that positively inspire you to achieve more every day, make yourself visible and seize opportunities.
Do you believe that everyone should have an investment portfolio, even if it's small?
Before deciding whether to save or invest, it’s important to first determine your goals. Once you’ve paid off debts and you have access to savings to cover emergencies for a ‘rainy day’, then it’s worth considering investing some of your spare cash. Ask yourself: What am I investing for? How long before I need to access the money? How much risk am I prepared to take with my investments to meet my goals?
If you are saving to buy a house or to build a pot for the future, you could just set some money aside in a savings account. While cash in a bank can earn you interest, rates (which are starting to rise again) have been rock bottom for a decade, on top of that you have inflation! This eats away at returns for savers even in the best buy savings accounts and over the long term the return on cash savings could be lower than if you had invested that money. In other words, by investing your money you make it work for you. The longer your time horizon, the harder your money is working for you.
What are the benefits of long term investing?
Even if you start off with a small amount, investing a little bit every month can help steadily build wealth over time. We call this the ‘magic of compounding’ that magnifies returns over time. In fact, Albert Einstein called compounding the eighth wonder of the world - ‘he who understands it, earns it...he who doesn't...pays it!’
Markets can be volatile. Investing in companies for example involves taking more risk than saving in cash and investors must therefore be offered a higher reward to encourage them to do so, be that in the form of interest on bonds, or dividends paid by shares. Time and patience are your friends. Investing over the long term allows you to compound returns and ride out short-term volatility.
When is a good time in life to start investing?
There isn’t a magical threshold where suddenly you become wealthy enough to invest. If you can afford to set some money aside for the long term (as little as £10 per month - that’s a few lattes and croissants you can skip!), the sooner you do this, the better.
Stocks and shares ISAs are good if you’re just starting your investment journey or for topping up existing savings. You can put up to £20,000 per year into an ISA and while that money’s invested, any gains are protected from income tax and capital gains tax. Junior ISAs are also a great way to start investing for children or grandchildren, allowing you to put away up to £4,128 per year to help shape a better financial future for them. ISA tax rules may, however, change in the future and their tax advantages depend on your individual circumstances.
If someone doesn't work in finance and are clueless about investments, how would they go about starting a portfolio?
For those who are daunted by the thought of investing and worried about making the wrong decisions or simply do not have the time to manage their investments themselves, paying a good financial adviser can be worth it. They could help you be a better investor or indeed do your investing for you.
A professional financial adviser can take account of your goals, look at your entire financial situation (earnings, tax, any savings, time horizon etc), balance your attitude to risk against the returns of various investments and help you put together a financial plan. Of course, this doesn’t come for free. If they seem expensive, you should ask exactly what the fees are for and what the adviser will deliver over and above investing yourself.
To help you do your own research, in M&G’s Learning Zone you will find a wide range of information, investment insights and educational guides designed to help you increase your financial knowledge and reach your investment goals.
The value of investments will fluctuate, which will cause fund prices to fall as well as rise and you may not get back the original amount you invested.
Ritu Vohora is an Investment Director and Head of Equities Investment Communications at M&G Investments.
This financial promotion is issued by M&G Securities Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK and provides ISAs and other investment products. The company’s registered office is Laurence Pountney Hill, London EC4R 0HH. Registered in England No. 90776.