Creating a Culture of Financial Empowerment for Women – News
Neelam Verma believes the pandemic has underscored the need for financial literacy among women.
Neelam Verma, Vice President and Chief Investment Officer, The Continental Group. — Photo provided
The UAE is setting good precedents by encouraging the employment of women in critical financial roles and facilitating an environment where they can feel personally and financially secure, said Neelam Verma, Vice President and Chief Investment Officer, The ContinentalGroup.
Verma – a Certified Wealth Manager from the American Academy of Financial Management and ICWM from CISI UK – is a seasoned finance and banking professional with over 20 years of experience in investments, private banking and management wealth management, corporate and commercial banking, real estate finance, retail banking and Islamic banking in India and the United Arab Emirates.
She is Expert in Advanced Strategic Management from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad; and holds an MBA in finance from the University of New Hampshire, USA, and a mini-MBA from Harvard Business School.
Verma said, “As long as women exist, financial education and female empowerment will remain a work in progress. They must be empowered to manage their own finances and make financial decisions. Financial literacy must be instilled in early childhood, in schools and in households. Women must be trusted to manage income and expenses, establish budgets, etc. This will further motivate them to learn more and expand their financial literacy, enabling them to effectively select insurance products, loans, credit cards, and more.
Verma believes that the future for women in finance in the UAE is bright as there is a culture of empowerment in the wider business ecosystem. The culture in question is particularly pronounced in finance, where the upper echelons include women in significant numbers. Such leadership roles are integral to forging a path forward for young women. Furthermore, the progressive financial sector in the UAE complements the aspirations of women. The latest labor law reforms, stipulating equal pay for equal work, are a good example.
“Today, many choose finance as a specialization. So, at every opportunity, I try to educate them about saving, investing, and planning for inheritance – something that I think isn’t talked about enough. Unlike the 90s when there were only a handful of women in finance, today not only are there more of them, but they are also earning more. They should be encouraged to channel their accumulated wealth in the right direction and grow it,” she said.
Find a work-life balance
A good work-life balance has prerequisites, says Verma, who follows her own formula of purpose, passion and planning (PPP). “Clarity of purpose will ensure you don’t get caught up in the routine of everyday life and stay on course. Passion will allow you to continually focus, persevere and develop the required skills. Planning will help you manage your time effectively. This PPP approach allowed me to balance work, family and social life while devoting time to my hobbies, such as cooking and exploring new cuisines,” she said.
Verma believes the pandemic has underscored the need for financial literacy among women. Many have realized that a lack of financial literacy adds to the trauma in the event of an unfortunate incident involving the spouse.
“We need to build on this new awareness, encouraging financial education for girls in schools and households. Women need to warm up to the idea of having equal agency in national financial affairs, such as joint investments, new purchases, etc. They must understand that they are inherently multi-taskers, able to effectively balance maternal obligations and finances Awareness breeds initiation, which in turn can guide them towards endless possibilities,” Verma concluded.