By John Drachman
If it’s March it must be National Women’s History Month the perfect time to remember the female innovators and geniuses throughout time. That’s why MyPerfectFinancialAdvisor salutes Hetty Green, the intellectual Gilded Age powerhouse who bootstrapped her market wisdom into becoming “the richest woman in the world,” according to Smithsonian Magazine.
Turning a $6 million shipping inheritance into $2 billion in today’s money, this female titan of finance went toe-to-toe with peers Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. Unlike those manufacturers, however, she opted to rotate her rapidly expanding fortune among real estate holdings; stocks and bonds; and cash as her calculations dictated. Entrepreneurial bargain hunters like Warren Buffett and John Bogle have been following this pioneer of value investing ever since.
Ms. Green passed away in 1916 at the age of 82 – only five years shy of the average life expectancy of today’s American woman who will live about eight years longer than her male counterpart. And, while many women may earn less than men during their working years, they will eventually inherit the lion’s share of society’s economic wealth. “It’s not a gender issue. It’s a math issue,” says Manisha Thakor, a Santa Fe, New Mexico-based director of wealth strategies for women.
However, before most women can live long and still stay comfortable, they’ll need to get strategic like Hetty. Karen Wallace CFP recently provided a look at some of the principles this investment visionary employed in building her empire of wealth:
- Study the world and learn from it. The importance of a pursuing a lifelong education in the workings of markets and financial instruments was fundamental to investing.
- Take informed risks. Market investments should reflect your own risk and reward parameters.
- Test your assumptions. Hetty relied on in-depth questioning of peers and constant reading to find bargains. Many professional advisors similarly act today as sounding boards to curious clients.
- Don’t get rattled by volatility. Hetty didn’t sweat market sell-offs and neither should you. She looked to buy more shares if she believed in something. Even in today’s world of Covid-19, humanity – and the markets – will probably still survive.
- Above all, prize your financial independence. Fierce, honest, true to herself, her husband and her family, Hetty was a true self-made woman, dependent upon nothing and no one for her sustenance.
The first modern female tycoon, Hetty Green proved that the American woman could create a fortune as big as any man. However, in a stroke of irony – and gender discrimination – this “richest woman in the world” was still forbidden from voting in national elections. It took the loss of the many women who died during World War I to force the legislation that led to the American woman finally getting the right to vote.
John Drachman is a contributing writer to MyPerfectFinancialAdvisor the premier matchmaker between investors and advisors .John is an IABC award-winning writer, who applies his 30 years of financial marketing experience toward advancing the dialog between investors and investment professionals.