What can women of the past teach us about investing in the stock market?

During this episode of Fantastic Female Fridays, we took a visit to the 19th Century when we gained an understanding of what life was like for savvy women investors. What freedoms and constraints did they have and what did they do with the opportunity presented to them?

You can check out the full episode at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AL_EQR4XU1c&t=3578s, but for a start, from “Ladies of the Ticker” by George Robb, we learned that:

“between the 1860s and the 1890s, there was a greater increase in female wealth than in the previous two hundred years of American history”.

“In 1840 the New York Legislature passed a married women’s insurance act that enabled a wife to ensure her husband’s life and to receive the benefits free from the claims of his creditors.”

“Massachusetts (1855) and New York (1860) were the first states that gave married women control over their own wages or money they earned through trade or business, as well as enabling them to make contracts on their own.”

Therefore, it was clearly a time where there was much change afoot right around that time. Women were taking a progressively more independent role over their own finances. However, who were the women that we’re investing in for their own or their family’s greater good?

The first woman I referred to is Eleanor Roosevelt who said, in a speech recorded in 1935, “A little systematic savings and investing would save many heartaches for the ages and give many a youth a better start in life”. During the full episode, we looked back at the trials and tribulations of the stock market over the past year, the past decade, and then the past century. It’s clear that there can be very volatile roller coaster experiences in the market but if you take a long-term view and either dollar cost average or use the VectorVest market timing signals, Eleanor Roosevelt’s words can be sage wisdom that certainly manifests over time.

The next woman I mentioned is Hetty Green, who was also known as “the Witch of Wall Street”. Her father bought her a wardrobe full of new clothes to attract a wealthy suitor and she sold them all so that she could invest in government bonds instead. She was a keen value investor and according to the Smithsonian Magazine, “A big difference between her and others such as Carnegie and Rockefeller is that she wasn’t an industrialist. Her sole business was investing in real estate, stocks, and bonds”. If one wanted to follow her lead, one could look at Unisearch in VectorVest and find a variety of value investing searches including “Good’N’Cheap” in the Prudent searches folder or any one of the “Bottom Fishing” selection. Hetty Green died with a fortune of approximately $2 billion in today’s value.

Next, we moved on to Mary-Ellen Pleasant. She was a woman of color who was born into slavery that pursued opportunity anywhere she found it. As soon as the California Gold Rush began, according to the New York Times, “Pleasant heeded the call. She moved to San Francisco and found work as a cook, invisible and unimportant once again. She shrewdly eavesdropped on the wealthy people she served, and using the information, invested bits of her inheritance.” She invested in laundries, silver mines, and banks and if you spot the pattern here, it could be said that she was a defensive investor. Each of those industries wasn’t connected with the economic cycle and could generate strong, reliable cashflows that would smooth out across recessions and booms. If Mary-Ellen was a VectorVest subscriber at the time, she might look at our Sector searches or even the “Discount Dividend” search in the Conservative folder. By the time she died in 1904, she was quite a famous figure (and for a variety of reasons!)

Finally, I quoted our own illustrious leader, namely Linda Royer, CEO of VectorVest. One of the standouts quotes that I have from her arose during our interview in another episode of Fantastic Female Fridays when she said “You can use the stock market to level up”.



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