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Just start somewhere... a personal story

Like many smart women who work in banks, Jennifer Cheong was, well, a little lazy about her finances…

Put off by the burden of having to seek her compliance department’s approval to own and trade individual stocks, Jennifer finally got around to submitting the paperwork in the same week that she also decided to quit her job. With plenty of free time on her hands and no more compliance issues, she still didn’t quite know where to start investing.

Enter Girls Just Wanna Have Fund$!

“I joined the group at exactly the right point in my life,” says Jennifer. “I just needed an extra push to get myself going.”

That “push” arrived in the form of some rather well timed advice about how the super low interest rate environment meant she was effectively losing money by not being invested in financial markets.

“The feeling of how much money I’d been missing the opportunity to make, how my money was not working as hard as I wanted it to be really struck a chord,” she says.

“What’s the point of working your bottom off to earn a wage, but not doing the full amount with the money? How do you complete the wealth cycle if you’re only letting your money earn half of its value?” she pondered.

With the lightbulb well and truly shining, Jennifer says the supportive network of like-minded women, all passionate about not only investing but also sharing their experiences – both positive and negative – with others, helped her to make the start.

She created an investment account and, in a second piece of rather handy timing, her husband introduced her to a major tech IPO and the success of getting allocated shares helped get her excited about equity markets.

“I saw that going up in value and thought: “Oh ok, I’m motivated to look into more,”” says Jennifer.

Next came more tech stocks through ETFs, as well as growth stocks in emerging Asian markets that were selected based on how China’s post-Covid-19 recovery might turn out.

Jennifer says she’s “not active at all” when it comes to day to day trading but at least she’s become a regular investor.

“I’ve got a commitment to put a certain amount every month from my bank account into investments. To me if money sits in your account it’s losing money – that’s the part that’s just sad! It’s like harvesting fruit and vegetables and then leaving them to rot, rather than selling them to make money,” she adds.

The hardest part for Jennifer, looking back, was getting started.

“We know that the historical data tells us for the long-term you will always gain, keep investing and it will go up over 30 years. But even for ETFs, I really didn’t know where to start or look, so the sessions with GJWHF$ really did help guide me,” she says.

“It is so important to feel like no question is “stupid” and having likeminded people who you’re comfortable to ask questions, because someone has already done it. The GJWHF$ Money Dates are so good because there’s always someone who wants to speak about particular investments!”

These conversations have taken her down a new investing road – carparks.

“Speaking to people in the group helped me to understand that this is a great short to medium-term investment in Hong Kong compared with the longer-term housing market, given the sheer undersupply,” says Jennifer. “You can do a lot of research online but it’s not the same as talking to someone “real”.”

Finally Jennifer has some advice to others who might find themselves in the same situation.

“Just start somewhere! Buy a single ETF and get a feel for it,” she says.

Read our explainers on ETFs here and takeaways from our sessions on ETFs 101 here and ETFs 201 here.