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Paving the Path for Women in Finance | The Journey of Monique Frederick

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“Don’t let society put you in a box and dictate what you do with your life.”

Growing up, I never considered gender as a barrier to a career in finance. My father, who was also in the financial services, would teach me about finance or ask me to write down the closing prices for specific stocks listed on the New York Stock Exchange. This simple, yet interesting activity, planted the seed in me which led to a flourishing career. It wasn’t until I entered the workforce that I noticed how male-dominated the field of investment management actually was.

Even though the ratio between females and males who choose finance subjects in college is fairly equal, the number of females opting out of the industry early in their careers is considerably higher. If these women wish to make a comeback, they find it quite difficult as they feel that this fast-moving industry has left them behind. Some women have left the industry because society has certain expectations as to how one should behave to succeed in the investment industry. This is bothersome as we ideally just wish to be ourselves. Women just want to have a seat at the table with an equal level of influence and control. Trying to get rid of these barriers is a long process, but this process is not without its own set of opportunities. It can be very rewarding; one just needs to start. Limitations are merely what society deems limitations to be.

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A lot of women, especially in the latter stages of their life, become solely responsible for the financial wellbeing of their families, even if they had no involvement in the family income or spending previously. I experienced this quite young, as I ran into financial difficulties while pursuing my master’s degree. I was laid off from my first full-time job and had no other resources available as my father had passed two years prior. To say that I was worried would have been an understatement, as I grappled with the dilemma of how to complete my master’s without any financial support. After being distraught for about 30 minutes I immediately transitioned into problem-solving mode, rushed to the Dean’s office, and laid out all possible solutions. It took us a few days to arrive at a solution, but they managed to find me a role as a graduate assistant and I was able to complete my master’s.

This experience taught me a lot about our ability as women to manage our finances and to be great problem solvers. These qualities directly relate to professionally required skills such as engaging with clients and managing investments. Women bring a different perspective to the conversation which has typically led to greater prosperity while lowering risks. Factors also indicate that a rising number of women are responsible for the financial management of their households. Men in this industry are also advocating for change as they want their young daughters to become financially literate. So, the conversation is no longer only among women; men are engaging in it too, advocating for the involvement of females. However, we still have a long way to go in that regard.

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One of my personal goals is to inspire the next generation. Financial literacy is key to our financial wellbeing and I aspire to find creative ways to educate the younger generation about managing money, investing, and wealth.

As a mentor and leader, I try to project what I would like my team members to do. In a team, it is important to be cooperative, empower each other, and provide opportunities to grow and learn. Diversity can be one of the best assets for any team to flourish. Every individual’s unique upbringing, social environment, and personal challenges shape their vision and set them apart. They bring different perspectives, opinions, and strengths to the table. Diverse ideas bloom into beautiful outcomes!

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The idea of work-life balance resembles a seesaw. At times, you have to give more to work or more to live. The way you manage it is an evolving process—what worked for you a few years ago may not work today. From time to time, I try to de-stress through my involvement in the performing arts and carve out special time for my family. I have a deep appreciation for culture and arts, allowing me to nurture my creative persona alongside my analytical one. My spiritual well-being also brings me happiness and peace and enables me to remain grounded.

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Everyone has a story and I am deeply inspired when I see other women making bold decisions. When I hear the stories of individuals overcoming challenges, I am instantly motivated. As someone aptly said, “Don’t judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” We never know what someone has gone through. You need to put yourself in their shoes and refrain from making any assumptions. There’s always more under the surface to understand and discover. Look beyond your perceptions and so much more will be revealed to you.

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