Money Moves: Female Empowerment through Financial Independence

One out of five women in Switzerland are living in poverty in their old age. How can that happen in presumably rich country? Lucify talked to Anju Devasar, the founder of “Money Moves” who empowers women by helping them to gain financial literacy and indepedence.

Could you please present yourself and your professional background?

I grew up in India, in New Delhi. I trained to be a Chartered Accountant and worked for multinational companies, before relocating to New York. After a few years, we moved to Geneva have been here almost 18 years now. Between our moves and having two daughters, I tried to keep my professional work going through volunteering, part-time jobs and independent consulting projects.

Could you please tell us a bit more about your migration experience in Switzerland?

 We were excited to move to Switzerland. In reality, this also came with some challenges. After having lived in big city till then, life here was quiet, isolating and may I say it…even a bit slow. English was not as widely spoken then, so there was that as well. The first challenge was to integrate and make friends. I started learning French and volunteering at my daughter’s school. I joined fitness classes organised by my commune and that help me get to know more people in my neighbourhood. It took a couple of years to start feeling settled. The next challenge was to build a professional network. That was more difficult and I think I am still working on it!

 How did you decide to create “Money Moves”?

Did you know that 1 in 5 women in Switzerland are living in poverty in their old age? How can that happen in a rich country? Studies show that women live on average 5 years more than men. That means that women are at a higher risk of facing health issues related to old age. Throw in more factors like time away from work due to family and children, gender pay gap, higher cost of childcare for single mothers, and the situation becomes way too complicated for any woman to handle. If women lack financial literacy, they are at risk of not planning their  financial situation through to their retirement years. Having some basic knowledge can help to understand the financial products like insurance and investment schemes, keep them financially independent in their later years, protect from debt traps, fraud schemes or manipulative family or relatives.

I realised the power of financial security very early in my life. After we lost my father very early. I grew up watching my mother go from never having managed money to learning to plan, save, buy a home and invest for the long term by having conversations with the men in the family who were doing it well. She actively seeked out financial literacy to build our life. I realise now that not everyone has such a role model growing up or may not see the potential in it or have access to trusted sources of such information. This inspired me to start Money Moves – a platform where women can learn about money and investing, cut through the jargon and take control of their financial decisions. The Money Moves community is a safe  space for women to discuss all things related to money.

Do you think COVID19 had an impact on the way women manage their money?

Over the pandemic we have become more anxious about the uncertainty of our incomes. The combined effect of not having a full income with a lack of adequate savings has made it a real struggle for many. This pandemic has also altered the conversations women are starting to have with their partners on their money matters, like what assets do they have and how to access them. It has been important to develop additional sources of income, keep on a budget and be mindful of spending. Though this time has been harder on women, it has also provided opportunities to save expenses on eating out, daily commute and shopping. Take advantage of this to build your savings.

How do you think financial literacy among women relates to the power balance between genders genders? 

Historically money was always handled by the men of the family. It was only after the 1960s that women could open a bank account, get a credit card or mortgage in their own name. We have come a long way from that

Though, even now the majority of women leave the long term planning of mortgages, investments and retirement to their partners. This is mainly because of lack of confidence in the ability to manage their money. This leaves them at a disadvantage and may keep them bound to an unhappy relationship or may leave them unprepared in case of divorce or death of their partners.

How does  “Money Moves“ enhance female leadership?

Financial literacy can empower women in their personal and professional lives. It gives women the confidence to participate in their family’s financial decisions. Also, overcoming limiting beliefs about finances and numbers and understanding of fundamental concepts like inflation, interest or risk diversification can help them make sound financial decisions as entrepreneurs or increase their opportunities to take on leadership positions at work.

 How can in particular migrant women benefit from “Money Moves”? 

Migrant women are working in valuable roles in our society. Yet, in many cases they don’t have access to information on employment opportunities or professional networks and fall into the cheap labour market despite the skills and education obtained in their home countries. Or they may have migrated with their families. This resulting lower or no income makes them more vulnerable to financial distress or abuse. Understanding their financial position, the opportunities for savings and investment and making the right choices can help them build their wealth over time.

Many migrant women restrain from financial planning due to the fact that they have very moderate or no savings at all. What would you recommend to them?

In situations of moderate or no savings, financial planning becomes even more critical. It is then crucial to budget for expected monthly expenditure, pay off any debt or overdue bills,  plan for emergencies and find ways to start or increase your savings.

Image: Money Moves

How can women get coached via “Money Moves”?

Money Moves is a platform for women to learn to manage their money and investments. We offer webinars, group workshops and one-on-one coaching. We have a 6 week program to help you access your financial position and make your personalised money plan. This includes 6 one-on-one coaching sessions. You can see the details on our web page and book a free pre-coaching call to see if this is right for you. We are very excited to work on additional new programs this year. Follow us on social media to stay tuned for the news. 

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Über Anna Butan

Anna speaks French, German, English and Russian. She obtained a Master Degree at the University of Bern (Cultural Studies) and a Bachelor at the Lomonosov Moscow State University (Philology). Anna has big interest in such themes as: identity, cultural hybridity, music, and raising children in multicultural context. She is convinced that our children can teach us a lot. They are not born with stereotypes but they risk to acquire them later under external circumstances. Our task as parents is to help them grow as conscious and culture-aware humans.

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