Swedish Linnéa Schmidt’s investment journey got kick-started by financial anxiety. When she and her boyfriend were taking out a mortgage for an apartment, “I felt like we were handling so much money,” she says and continues, “that’s when I realized how little knowledge I had on economics.” To gain control over the situation, Linnéa decided to educate herself on the matter. “I signed up for an investment group for women in Sweden. This was in 2016 and I don’t think I would have started investing if it wasn’t for that community,” she says.
Today, almost six years later, she has overcome the anxiety and is now running the investment firm Moneypenny and More with her Danish companion Ann-Christina Lykke Motzfeldt. Moneypenny and More provides financial guidance for women and operates as an online community where women can support each other in their individual investment journeys.
Just Google It
Asking Linnéa why she initially gravitated towards forums that were solely for women, she takes a break to think and says: “I guess I was looking for role models. Also, it was easier to ask the ‘stupid questions’ in the groups for women only. When posting in groups open for all genders, I often experienced men telling me to just Google it. The answers you get there feel more like a criticism rather than a conversation. This can make it difficult to gather the courage to ask the ‘stupid question’ — which I, by the way, don’t believe exists.”
After being introduced to the Swedish investment community, Linnéa started blogging about investing herself. When she later moved to Denmark, she naturally searched for the same networks of women, “but I wasn’t able to find any, and that’s why I decided to start my own,” she says.
Linnéa started a Facebook group and began hosting investment events for women. At an event, Ann-Christina Lykke Motzfeldt showed up. Like Linnéa, Ann-Christina had been searching for investment communities for women but with no luck. “When I stumbled upon Linnéas Facebook group I felt like it was exactly what I had been looking for. I went to one of the events and we hit it off right away. We started talking about cooperating and eventually that led to us starting the company together.” Ann-Christina tells.
A Domino Effect
Through the project, Ann-Christina hopes to strengthen women's confidence and clear up some ingrained gender roles.
“The male in the household has historically made the bigger financial decisions in the family. This has made women a little less confident when it comes to dealing with these issues. But we need to discover that we can do this too, and the more female investors we encounter the more common and less scary it becomes.”
In reality, confidence shouldn’t be an issue. Only nine percent of women believe they are superior investors to men. This would make sense if men were better at investing than women. But they aren't, studies show, and the insecurity that women harbor when it comes to money might also be the reason why only 41 percent of American women invest compared to 55 percent of men.
This gap is tied to a more general gender inequality Ann-Christina explains: “On average men still get paid more than women. They therefore have more money to spare. When you have spare money, you might become a little more risk-tolerant and investing might seem less scary. For women, who in general don't have as much money to spare, investing the ones you have is a bigger decision since losing what you invest will have a greater impact. But if only men invest, the wealth gap will grow even further during a lifetime, which for instance can lead to women having fewer means when retiring.”
Making women aware of their abilities and investment options can help close a more general wealth gap. Ann-Christina admits that even though Moneypenny and More didn’t start out as a feminist project, it has grown in that direction. “I wouldn’t have described Moneypenny as feminist in the beginning, but today I believe it is. What we wish to do is to create equal opportunity for men and women. If that is feminism, then so are we.”