5 Powerful Women Investors & How They Made Their Money
International Women’s Day aims to illuminate the inequalities between genders. From the gender pay gap to unequal representation in politics and media, the day is meant to be a celebration of all that women have achieved, as well as how far they still have to go.
At SoFi, we’re celebrating International Women’s Day by highlighting five of the most powerful women investors of the past and present. Read on to learn how they made their money, and how a novice investor can learn from their strategies.
Abigail Adams wasn’t only the First Lady, she’s often regarded as one of the first female investors in US history.
While the money she invested wasn’t technically her own (it was, in fact, the property of her husband, President John Adams), she managed her family’s investments.
While her husband was off founding a nation, Abigail kept track of the Adams family investments, and beyond that, she made major financial decisions for the household.
At the time, there was little faith in the fledgling US government, and war bonds were depreciating in value, but not as quickly as American currency. Her husband, John Adams, advised Abigail to invest in farmland, but America’s first female investor had other ideas.
Cleverly, Abigail continued to invest in war bonds, even against her husband’s wishes, buying the notes low. She continued this strategy as the nation grew, investing in State Notes in 1783-84 while the prices were at an all-time low.
So, just how well did America’s first female investor do? Historians speculate she saw a 400% return on her investments , much of which she used to help out other women in need, supporting causes like women’s rights, abolishing slavery, and female education.
Abigail Adams exemplifies the principle of “buy low, sell high” in investing. Instead of panicking when the value of notes plummeted, Abigail continued to buy, seeing a major pay-off in the future when the value rose.
Hailed as the richest women in America during the Gilded Age, financier Hetty Green earned the nickname “The Witch of Wall Street” not for her investing prowess, but because of the dark dresses and veils she’d wear to hide her identity on the trading floor.
When her father passed away, Green inherited the family wealth and managed it on her own (even after she married her husband in 1867, they kept their finances separate).
Green grew her inherited wealth through diligently saving (the Guinness Book of World Records deemed Green the “World’s Greatest Miser” ) and relying on a long term buy and hold strategy in the stock market. She avoided the rampant speculation that swept the market at that time, and instead invested in government bonds, real estate, and railroads.
She also kept a hearty purse of liquid cash for lending purposes—she once loaned the city of New York $1 million in 1898 .
Green’s conservative, long-game strategy paid off. At the time of her death in 1916, her estate was worth an estimated $100,000,000 .
You don’t earn the name “The Grand Dame of Dividends” with a mediocre investment strategy, and Geraldine Weiss is regarded as a pioneer in the world of women investors. Weiss’ investment career started when she began investing her husband’s income, and as her strategy paid off, she sought work in the investment world.
During the 1960s, the only jobs the firms would offer her were secretarial. So Weiss set out on her own and founded Investment Quality Trends (IQT) in 1966, a newsletter where she shared investment advice.
Weiss’ strategy primarily revolves around investing in blue-chip stocks with high-yield dividends as the cornerstone of an investor’s portfolio and focusing on dividends over earnings.
Weiss ran IQT for 37 years and retired in 2003 with two bestselling books under her belt. Her recommended investments yield an average 11.2% annual return (compared to 9.8% overall market) and is consistently ranked as one of the best performing newsletters in the financial market.
While she’s most recognized for her role on reality show Shark Tank, Barbara Corcoran made her millions long before she took a seat in the tank.
In 1973 while in her early 20s, Corcoran quit her diner job in New York City to start a real estate brokerage business with just a $1,000 investment . She started selling apartments and quickly realized the key to growing her business wasn’t just sales, but a good marketing strategy.
Abiding by the edict of “all press is good press,” Corcoran kept her name in the papers as a real estate expert, and eventually launched a biannual report on real estate trends to grow her business.
Corcoran’s hard work and passion for real estate paid off. After growing the Corcoran Group brokerage for several decades, she sold it for $66 million , a number she claims she pulled out of thin air on a ski lift during vacation.
Since successfully exiting her real estate business, Corcoran has very publicly been investing her millions on Shark Tank directly with individual businesses. A $50,000 investment she made in a sweatshirt company last season on the show has netted her a reported $30 million to date .
Founding partner of Chinese firm Capital Today, Kathy Xu secured the number 6 spot on Forbes‘ 2019 Midas List of most powerful venture capital investors. The highest woman on the list, Xu made her money betting big on early-stage startup e-commerce site, JD.com. The $18 million investment paid off, big time, yielding the firm a $2.9 billion payday .
Xu’s strategy when it comes to investing is staying narrow with her ventures, opting to deeply research a company before she dives in. She disciplines her team to limit themselves to five to six deals a year , and to know as much as they can about a company before making the investment. Xu meets with founders multiple times to understand their strategy fully before cutting the company a check.
Opting for depth rather than breadth in her investment strategy has made Xu the most powerful female investor in the world right now.
Starting The Investment Journey With SoFi
While the gender pay gap is regularly discussed on International Women’s Day, there’s another gap that’s less frequently mentioned. On average, men invest 32% more of their income than women.
Men are more likely to choose an aggressive plan as women are more likely to earn less right off the bat. It’s not hard to see how quickly they can fall behind with investing.
56% of millennial women say that fear holds them back from investing, but getting started with investing doesn’t have to be scary. Investing with SoFi can be a great first step to investing confidently. With simple to use tools, SoFi Invest® allows an investor to get started with as little as $1.
Whether beginners choose to follow the footsteps of other powerful female investors or choose to strike out on their own, the investment gender gap won’t be bridged until women take action. Don’t let the fear of investment keep you from getting started today.
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