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AmCham women in management panel tells us how to be money wise in 2009

I attended an AmCham women in management event last night featuring an expert panel of speakers who told us in detail what we needed to be “Money Wise in 2009”.  The panel was truly sensational, with a detailed assessment of the macro economic environment – or global financial crisis – provided by Sally Auld, Executive Director and Interest Rate Strategist at JP Morgan and Tanya Branwhite, Divisional Director – Research at Macquarie Capital Securities – as well as some tips on how to manage the personal financial crisis that’s going on in most of our super funds and personal portfolios by Melanie Evans, Head of Superannuation, BT Financial Group and Stacey Martin, Senior Manager Financial Planning at NAB Private Wealth.

What struck me most about the evening was how truly sensational the panel participants were.  Seriously.  Each presented on their topics with confidence and fielded questions from the audience with ease.  Which left me thinking: if this wasn’t a women’s event, how many of these panelists would have been selected to present?  I mean, when was the last time you went to a conference where 4 out of the 4 expert panelists were women? If there was such a time, was it a mixed gender event or women only?  Because I reckon all of us have seen a panel discussion where all the panelists were men; just rarely the reverse case.  Especially at mixed gender events.

I believe this is just another manifestation of the unconscious biases that follow women throughout their careers: I could be wrong, but I reckon women just don’t fit the model of leaders that the media wants to portray.  Take Auld for starters: she has a PhD from Oxford University in Economics, a BEc from the University of Sydney and all the right brand names on her CV – yet the stereotype economist is male (in Australia think Rory Robertson, Shane Oliver, Alan Oster et al). Branwhite’s career has spanned various investment banks and she was named the 2008 Equities Analyst of the Year… yet in all my years reading the AFR and watching Sky Business I don’t recognise her as a regular commentator (a google search confirmed my suspicions).  Evans and Martin have careers spanning banking and wealth roles in the big name banks and demonstrated an obvious gift for taking the complexities of investment management and making it easy for anyone to understand – with Evans using analogies like that little dress in the back of your wardrobe to explain attribution and Martin challenging women to forego that trip to the day spa that we’re so sure we deserve for the secure financial future that we really deserve!

Whether you were looking for insights into the state of the economy or the state of your super, this panel had it all.  They deserved the applaud their discussions commanded.  And they deserve more recognition in the media for of their expertise.

And for the record what did they have to say about being Money Wise in 2009?  It went something like this: we can expect an alphabet soup style economic recovery; we should watch out for the Emporer’s new clothes that got us into this mess in the first place; that if you haven’t worn that dress in the back of the wardrobe it’s time to chuck it out; and that you’ll never be able to make a down payment with your Milano Blahnik collection so it’s probably best to go with a more liquid investment!

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