Authors of Financial Books for Women
Kathleen Gurney, Ph.D.
Author of Your Money Personality
Who is the founder and CEO of Financial Psychology Corporation and why is she recognized as one of the pioneering experts in the psychology of money and investing?
Throughout her career, Dr. Kathleen Gurney has been fascinated with the interaction between attitudes/feelings and the way in which people earn, spend, save and invest money. She has conducted groundbreaking research in the psychology of financial behavior; interviewing tens of thousands and using sophisticated statistical analysis. Over the years, she has applied her findings to individuals, couples, families and financial professionals.
Dr. Gurney’s studies are also the basis for her best-selling book, Your Money Personality: What It Is and How You Can Profit From It, as well as her MONEY-MAX® Personal Profile questionnaire. Originally developed to help individuals identify, understand and work with their own unique money management styles, Money-max has been embraced by the international investment and financial industry as well, to better satisfy customer needs and investment personalities.
Dr. Gurney is a popular guest on radio and television shows in the U.S. and abroad, including “Oprah,” CNN and CNBC, PBS specials, and the “Today Show” in Australia and New Zealand. Major magazines and newspapers frequently interview her. Articles about her and her work have appeared in the Sunday New York Times, USA Today, the Wall St. Journal, Investors Business Daily, the Washington Post, Newsweek, US News and World Report, Forbes, Barron’s, Money, Psychology Today, Mademoiselle, Cosmopolitan, New Woman, Self, Esquire and the Robb Report. Her own articles are published regularly at www.horsesmouth.com, an online subscription service for retail financial professionals, and www.aol.com.
In addition to her roles as researcher and author, Dr. Gurney teaches, trains and advises individuals, groups and businesses in the U.S. and throughout the world. Fortune 500 companies consult with her regularly. She has served as a faculty member at Harvard University’s Annual Congress on the “Psychology of Investing” and was a featured expert on improving savings behavior among U.S. families for the American Savings Educational Council (a coalition of U.S. government and private industry leaders).
Comfortable with groups of 20 to 2000, Dr. Gurney has also spoken at a long list of conferences, both here and abroad. The groups she has addressed include: the Securities Industry Association Board, the International Association of Financial Planners, the American Association of Retired Persons, the National Association of Women Business Owners, National Association of Female Executives, and the Charles Schwas Annual Conference.
Dr. Gurney earned her Ph.D. degree from the University of Southern California and taught there from 1981 to 1987. She and her husband reside in Sonora, California, where Financial Psychology Corporation is headquartered. The company offers innovative education, tools and services to provide individuals and financial professionals with insight into the psychology of financial behavior.
Visit Dr. Kathleen Gurney’s website www.kathleengurney.com to learn more, enroll in a seminar, read her book or to discover your unique money personality with the Money-max® Profile.
- What led you to write this book?
My pioneering work in “financial psychology” dates back to the fall of 1981 when I became my first client. I had just received my doctorate degree from the University of Southern California and had accepted the university’s offer to lecture on psychology for the Department of Defense at American military bases in Holland, Germany, Belgium and Spain. Per my request, my paychecks were to be deposited into my checking account each month.
As I moved about Europe, I wrote checks at the PXs and banks on the military bases to cover my living expenses and sent checks back to Los Angeles to cover my home mortgage payment and other bills. At the end of six weeks abroad, I tried to cash a check for $50.00 at a PX in Belgium and was told that the check was no good. Soon afterward, bounced checks from all over Europe began to catch up with me. I called the payroll department at USC to find out what had happened and was told that due to an administrative oversight my contract had not been processed and I was not on the payroll. They would look into the matter and rectify the situation immediately. I had enough money in a savings account to cover my bills for two months, but two months later my checks were still bouncing because the payroll error had still not been corrected. As a result, I called my parents to borrow money from them.
As the weeks passed and USC failed to untangle the bureaucratic red tape, my money anxiety began to grow. I kept a logbook of every dollar I spent and all the checks that had bounced. I was blacklisted, had no credit line in Europe or the United States, and felt powerless. Since I had very little cash, I rarely went out in the evenings and spent a lot of time wondering how I had allowed myself to get into such a financial fix. While I kept telling myself that the problem was only temporary and I would laugh about it someday, I was highly anxious. I lost ten pounds and began to suffer bouts of insomnia. One of my journal entries at the time read: “My world has fallen off its axis. I have felt frightened and lonely before but never like this. What has happened to the sense of well being I’ve had all of my life? Everything stable and certain in my life is in flux. Without money, how vulnerable am I? What does money mean to me? I will never let money do this to me again.”
The university finally straightened out its financial error, but I knew that I would never forget the financial and psychological impact of that year in Europe. When I returned to Los Angeles, I began to take graduate courses in finance and to read books about money. Although I found countless books about money and investing, there was very little information about how people feel about money and how feelings and attitudes influence the way people handle their money. I felt there should be information and services available to others who might want to know how to make money work more advantageously in their lives, individually as well as in relationships.
- What do you feel to be the biggest challenge facing women today when handling their finances?
Women must plan to depend more significantly on their own savings than on Social Security benefits and employer-provided savings plans because women tend to live longer than men and will need retirement income for a longer period of time. How much time is still unknown. It is very difficult to predict, but many experts are saying the average woman may live to 100. A frightening thought for many women today who are unprepared financially to take care of their future financial needs and well being. In addition, women’s pension and Social Security benefits tend to be smaller than men’s; in fact, a woman’s benefit is less than 1/3 of her male co-worker’s. Another startling statistic reveals that taking just seven years away from the job during a 40-year career may result in half the retirement benefits. Women also earn less and generally have less money to invest through Social Security contributions and payments to their 401(k)s or from their pay checks.
Another handicapping factor is women’s lower comfort level with risk. When they do start to invest, women generally tend to be more conservative than men. They select investments that may not be able to generate the long-term growth they’ll need. In summary, there are many factors that can impede a woman’s ability to attain financial security and a sense of well being in her lifetime by reaching her personal financial goals. Woman’s biggest challenge is to learn all that she can and her education must begin with knowing herself.
In addition to these financial challenges, women have personal challenges because of their beliefs and feelings about money. They have more emotionalize about money, more anxiety, and less involvement in managing their finances. They are still highly influenced by early imprinting and societal role models. They also still have the lion-share of care-taking responsibilities for the family.
The good news is that the solution is now available for women who will devote the time to paying themselves first. If they will take the time to be in control of the management of their finances beyond budgeting, their confidence increases significantly. Women must learn all that they can and begin now. They have to set realistic goals, stay focused and continually monitor their progress. Their focus should be where they want to go instead of where they’ve been.
- How has the atmosphere changed for women investors in the last 10 years?
In the last decade, women’s role models have become more financially savvy and powerful. The largest financial institutions have recognized women’s clout in the financial services arena and developed special programs for them based on their needs for more consultative selling and rapport building than transaction-oriented relationships. Brokers and planners are taught how women want to be sold. There are special seminars for women. I toured Australia with a firm dedicated to helping women become financially secure. We had thousands of Australian women attend my “Your Money Personality and How You Can Profit from It” seminars and embark on the journey to mastering their wealth accumulation.
Women have also begun to form groups to invest and do what they do best–reap confidence from affiliating in relationships. Investment Clubs have given women the platform for self-education and self-confidence. They are learning that all it takes is experience and education. Confidence is not gender-specific.
- How will the atmosphere change for women investors in the next 10 years?
Women will continue to become more powerful, savvier and wealthier. If demographics hold true, women will inherit money from their families and spouses. They will continue to be enlightened and learn that it is their duty to manage their money. With the power of earning and having more money comes the responsibility of managing it for our greater good. Women can no longer afford the myth that money management is someone Else’s duty, not women who are going to grow and prosper. Women’s self-image and self-esteem must include the belief that they are just as capable of being astute money managers as men are. Mastering their own financial well being is both a right and a responsibility that must be addressed and conquered in the next decade. I believe it is woman’s last frontier.
- Where did you start your career and how did it lead you to where you are today?
Also, see the answer for the question #1
I realized that I must be a smart woman since I was teaching graduate students and had done well in my Ph.D. program. But I certainly wasn’t being a very smart money manager. I attributed that to my own beliefs and attitudes and realized that I lacked self-awareness and self-confidence when it came to finances and investments. I certainly could prosper by more education. So I audited Finance and Investment Classes and signed up for the Certified Financial Planner Program. After three courses, I realized that I had the basics of what I needed to know to make sound decisions but I still lacked confidence. I was eager to have a context of knowledge about myself and my style of decision-making that would guide me in making wiser decisions.
I also found that I couldn’t give my money to a broker to invest in 1981. I walked out of his office mystified about how much risk I wanted to take and what type of stocks would fit my comfort zone. That’s when I decided to create a questionnaire that would be easy to take but would be revealing in offering some concrete practical information about how I could make better use of my money whether I was earning, saving, spending or investing it.
That questionnaire and its reports, the Money-max(TM) Personal Profiling System, is now used by individuals and financial professionals worldwide. It is the cornerstone of the work I’ve accomplished in changing people’s money lives and how they view themselves and their money, and the success and content they achieve. It has helped literally tens of thousands of women learn that they can be in control of their financial destiny. That has been my greatest reward.
- How much money do you need to start investing?
A woman recently asked me via e-mail whether she could start with $50 or $100 to invest. I’m not a financial adviser but I would start with whatever money you can but start today. You must get in the habit of learning how to prioritize your spending so that you pay yourself first. Put any amount of money you can aside into a fund for investing. You can buy shares of stock for dollars. The important point is to get in the habit of saving some money for investing and learning that you can do it. That money will grow provided you pick an investment that will grow. Start out conservatively until you find your comfort zone and how you feel about losing money. The power of compounding is amazing. I wish I had started earlier than I did, but we will always have regrets. Start to think positively about the future and invest something today that will be assured to grow for tomorrow.
- How should a woman get started investing with no investment experience?
Personally I like Peter Lynch’s philosophy of investing in something that is familiar to you and that you see and use in your life. You can start by investing in a stock or stocks of companies you do business with whether they be a Wall-Mart or a Starbucks. You can also be protected with more calculated risk by investing in a mutual fund of companies that you may know. There are services and brokers that you can access off the web, like Morning star and Schwas, which will rate those mutual funds in terms of their safety and performance. Companies like Schwas can be a great resource if you think that you’d like to learn how to invest by yourself. If you are like the majority of women, you may want a coach or financial adviser to guide you. There are advisers who will charge you an hourly-consulting fee to review your financial situation and recommend some options that you then can buy from a Schwas. There are others who will be a one-stop shop and provide the advice and also the investment like American Express Financial Advisers or Raymond James Financial Services. You, of course, will pay the commissions for this service and perhaps an hourly fee, but it may be worth it if you find an adviser you can trust.
Remember to interview the adviser as you would a doctor. You must be able to establish rapport and trust this adviser with your money. Stay involved. It’s your money and your life. I am not a financial adviser but I work closely with advisers and they can be very helpful in designing a financial plan and recommending investments, but you have to become a good client in articulating what you want and need from them. Don’t expect them to understand what you don’t tell them. Again, it’s your money and your life.
- If a woman has debt, at what point should she become an investor?
If she can afford the debt and to save, I would recommend that she both pay off her debt and get in the habit of investing. This question, to be answered definitively, depends on the individual situation of course.
- Have you published any other books before this one? If so, what are they?
No. I have published articles and had several columns published but never a book before this one.
- What are your future book writing plans?
I have just completed my second book proposal, which I hope to sell this fall and have published within a year. Many more books will follow.