Take charge

Take charge


On Instagram, “She invests” is followed by thousands of people who learn about finances and investing in playful mode, against a candy pink background. 

The logical next step for author Karman Kong? A book. Designed for her, but also strong for him, this guide provides the basics of finance to take control of your business. Interview with Ms. Kong, a tax lawyer who writes in her spare time*.

Q: Why did you want to write this book?

A: I discovered personal finance at 28, when I inherited an amount of money, which I didn't know what to do with. I started from zero knowledge, I read a lot and realized that the women around me were asking themselves the same questions. They are afraid of being judged, in this traditionally male environment – ​​before 1964, women in Quebec could not open a bank account! By informing myself, I understood that money could work in my place. Before I turned 28, I lived paycheck to paycheck and didn't see the need to save. I thought the only option was to put money in a “high interest” bank account, then fixed at 0.2%. When I realized that ordinary people could invest in the stock market, my view of things changed. And even more when I grasped the power of compound interest, so the principle that money can work for me.

Q: Before we get into investing, you offer the basics of personal finance, like budgeting. Why this preamble before getting to the heart of the matter?

A: This book reflects my journey. At 28, I had never made a budget and did not know exactly what it required. I'm not the only one who has to start from scratch. To manage to invest, it is good to see our expenses. And I propose to consider investment as an item of expenditure. You have to create a margin and prioritize an amount for savings before thinking about investing; this is the basis. I take the reader by the hand. If he doesn't start from scratch, like me, so much the better, but I don't want to leave anyone behind. I felt a lot of anxiety with my personal finances at first, then I found balance. I spoil myself and do not suggest that anyone wear stockings with holes! Nor to wonder if we really need what we buy. My question: does your spending align with your values?

Q: You have been annoyed by the way women are talked about finances. What did you want to avoid?

A: It is often moralistic. “You buy too much coffee. “You are spending too much money. That was true for me, but I was never taught the quid pro quo: not buying coffee and using the money saved every day and investing it, then being able to buy a house in a few years. The guilt becomes anxiety. While saving to achieve a goal is motivating. There is an ambient discourse about women, as if they are bad at managing their finances. It is a myth. When women start investing, they get better results than men, according to a study by Fidelity. They are less likely to speculate. They will invest for the long term and take calculated risks. This is encouraging.

Q: What broke your fear of investing in the stock market and choosing this investment vehicle?

A: Understand the difference between speculating and investing. Many of us imagine the stock market like a casino, with a high risk of loss. One day, I understood that investing in the stock market means becoming a business owner and that you can mitigate risk by diversifying your assets. People who have lost a lot by speculating are often people who have concentrated their investments in one company. 

The other thing that helped me was understanding the history of the stock market and its cycles. It's a bit like the seasons, it comes back.

Q: Choosing a financial advisor is not easy. How to make the right choice?

A: I suggest getting informed first. It's hard to trust if you don't understand the basics of finance yourself. Entrusting your investments to an advisor makes perfect sense. But we must be able to ask him the right questions. Understanding the performance of the stock market and knowing what is normal according to your investor profile is essential. Often, people who are less tolerant to risk are advised to put their money in a guaranteed investment certificate (GIC) that pays little. Why don't we explain to a young person that investing their money on the stock market for a long time is not a big risk, because historically, the stock market has given a positive return over the long term? Fear can be reduced by the knowledge that we acquire. They allow more informed choices.

*This interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

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