A husband planning a retirement fund. A father planning his child’s education fund. A son signing up his parents for medical insurance.
If there’s one thing that is hard to ignore in these popular narratives in the media on investments, it is the portrayal of men as the decision-makers and the ones taking responsibility of securing their families financially.
Ironic at a time, when women are an intrinsic part of the workforce, have broken glass ceilings and are contributing to family earnings.
Women: a blind spot in financial conversations
“One of the key reasons for the one-sided narrative is because historically men have been the owners of wealth and have taken charge of it even for the women in their lives,” explains Hena Mehta, Founder of Basis, a first-of-its-kind platform that is making personal finance and investment accessible and inclusive for Indian women.
Delving further on the subject, Hena adds, “What we also see is that women tend to take a backseat with money-related discussions when there are men in the room - virtually or physically. An additional challenge is that there aren’t many financial products that are tailored to women’s needs and goals.”
“I have dealt with banks, personal finance advisors, agents and it took me a while to filter and understand which advice is unbiased. Albeit, burnt my fingers in the process. Also, I never felt like they talked to me or understood me,” says Shilpa Shree, a communications consultant.
Her experience only substantiates Hena’s observations on why women often take a backseat with money related discussions. “Adding to the complexity of the problem is that women just don’t talk about money with each other. This in spite of the fact that today women have access to money, are great at saving and have a long-term outlook when it comes to investing,” adds Hena.
Building conversations around money
It is here that a platform like Basis comes as a solution for women professionals, millennials and Gen Z women. The platform has been designed to power personal finance for women. And, one of the key ways it does is by building a community - on the Basis app and on Facebook.
“By creating a women-only community, we provide a safe and candid space for women to discuss all aspects of our lives that impact our financial independence. Conversations cover relationships, careers, and starting and running businesses, as well as picking the right investments and insurance plans,” explains Hena.
A pharma professional and a mother to a toddler, Sweta Pachlangiya’s experience with the Basis community substantiates the many advantages the access to the community offers women like her.
“I have been managing investments ever since I started working. But, given the multiple facets of personal finance, there is always something to learn more and understand better. For instance, the discussions on goal-based investment planning helped to create discipline in the way I approach my finances. The experts in the group also walk you through on how to approach an issue. So, we don’t just get a solution, but also understand the reasoning behind why something works or doesn’t.”
The other key highlight of the community, in Sweta’s words, “is that the community is refreshingly open about talking about financial challenges that we as women face in our life journeys.”
Learning to get comfortable with managing money
The community is the first step towards getting women to get comfortable talking about money. The next logical step is to help women make informed decisions, explains the Founder. “Women’s lives and careers are vastly different from those of men. That’s why they need to manage money differently. But, it is difficult to find resources that can guide them how to by taking into consideration women’s realities and goals.”
It is here that the curated content on Basis’ blog comes into play. Written by subject matter experts and women who have made investments, the Basis content caters to women who are at different stages in their financial journey.
In addition, Basis also offers bite-sized and jargon-free learning modules to help users explore different learning areas such as tax-saving, risk, setting budgets, mutual funds, inflation, goals, etc. The modules are written in a free-flowing style, feeling almost like a conversation with a friend. From learning on how to calculate life insurance to understanding why women need to be retirement-ready to Systematic Investment Plans, the learning modules and contextualised content make it practically effortless for women to understand their finances and make decisions.
Empowering women with financial knowledge and resources, Basis also helps women action their learnings -- by helping them invest. Its pioneering investment feature uses a proprietary algorithm that takes a user’s specific details into account, runs 2,000 simulations to arrive at the best funds that will help women achieve their financial goals. While the app creates a unique profile using criteria such as risk appetite, amount, duration and goals, the app also takes into consideration that women primarily like to protect their investments and don’t gamble with their money.
In partnership with five asset management companies, Basis has handpicked funds that offer consistent returns instead of returns that fluctuate dramatically.
Explaining why Basis currently suggests mutual fund plans as the investment option, Hena shares, “Each investment vehicle has its own pros and cons that are balanced to meet certain specific objectives. A mutual fund is a great place for investors to begin their investment journey and as they gain more experience with the process of investing they can consider more complex investment products such as direct equities that better suit their individual needs. At Basis, we emphasise good investment habits. And, Mutual Funds offer our investors a simple and effective medium through which they can habituate themselves with the world of investing.”
A one-stop destination for all things women and money
Today, the interactions and growing numbers on the Basis’ community is a clear indication of not just popularity of Basis but its relevance for women.
“In just under six months, we have grown to become a 7000+ strong community. We see about 40 percent daily active users on the platform, while the monthly active user rate stands at whopping 88 to 90 percent. And, all this with word of mouth being a key growth driver for Basis. There’s no better validation for what you are building, than customers telling their friends and family to sign up on Basis,” says Hena.
The team has some exciting plans lined up for Basis. They are working to add more investment vehicles such as equities and ETFs, as well as government schemes, insurance products and credit: all tailored towards women’s lives.
As for the two women, Shilpa and Sweta, 2020 will see them working towards some big financial goals.
Shilpa says, “I am working on increasing the duration of my emergency fund while also investing in a travel goal. A major milestone I want to achieve is closing my home loan.”
Sweta is making her biggest investment ever – a new home. I want to make sure that I do this prudently without stressing out my investments.”
She says, “The best part of making financial decisions all by myself is knowing where my money is. Money to me is freedom- freedom to make choices that work best for me, and having control over my money is my way of ensuring that my freedom stays in my hands.”
And, this perhaps sums up how Basis is not just helping women to take charge of their money but by extension, their lives.