DrawnTo…Being a female Business Angel

By Jackie Forbes; originally posted on LinkedIn Pulse.

Here is a subject women don’t often discuss so let’s begin with a startling statistic.

Did you know that out of regular investors in the UK, current estimates are that only 5% are women? This is at a time when we see women generating more wealth than ever.

Today’s brief post is for women who, like me, have reached a stage in life where they have worked long and saved hard. It is what I wish someone had told me a decade ago when my investment savvy did not go beyond a high interest account and a buy to let property. Neither of which has served me well over time!

Until a year ago I was NOT one of the UK’s 5% female angel investors.

Why is that? For me I think there were a couple of key reasons:

The first was my own stereotyping of who a typical investor would be. I had in mind they would be male, extremely affluent, likely to be highly-informed risk takers and part of a closed network.

The second is due to lack of a financial education I was frozen into inertia regarding my reasonably modest savings. At no time did the world of investing angels ever appear on my radar! It had not occurred to me that I could be eligible or that the world of investing could be accessible. Furthermore, I would not have known how to begin or how to make a good decision. I hadn’t thought through why investing could be beneficial to the entrepreneur, the economy and ultimately me.

Enter stage left – Investing Women

So what has changed?

A year ago I was intrigued to be introduced to an organisation called Investing Women (IW), which is based in Scotland. This is the brainchild of a dynamic women called Jackie Waring. The key goal of IW is to open up the world of business angel investing to women in a simple, non-threatening way. Indeed they are passionate about creating a transformational increase in the number of women investors in Scotland and actually the UK!

First things first – getting over the fear

For me, not feeling fear was about empowerment and knowledge. Investing Women understands that to get started a novice female investor wants to be able to evaluate risk and opportunity in an informed way. Impossible if you don’t know what you don’t know. To get over that each new member is invited to a two-day investor-training programme that covers the basics I was too embarrassed to admit I didn’t know. It explores what an investor should look for, how to evaluate entrepreneurs’ pitches, what the tax position is and the legal aspects of investing. This is all delivered in a down-to-earth way that debunks the jargon related to the investment world and has the premise that there are definitely no stupid or naive questions. This training opened my eyes to the financial opportunities I have missed in the last decade. Investing in property took 80% of my capital and I lost money over time – if I had invested in entrepreneurs I could have utilised 5% of my capital, received great tax breaks and potentially have seen a good return. (Of course there is always a risk to be balanced.) Now I am learning from Captain Hindsight and going forward with a different approach.

Don’t park your values – it’s about more than the money….

My background is in learning and development and helping people realise their potential. One truly compelling aspect of why I was DrawnTo… becoming an investor member of Investing Women is that the organisation’s mantra is:

“Its about more than the money.”

What does this mean in practice?

Along with the larger scale mature prospects IW has invested in, we welcome female entrepreneurs in the early stages of their start-up to pitch to us. We may not always be ready to invest cash but we have a wonderful track record of mentoring and coaching. Which of course as a people developer is right up my street.

Our group is made of up smart women with a variety of backgrounds and experience from many different sectors. Yes some have achieved great financial success and others are more like me, they have a modest amount they would like to commit to investment. It’s so rewarding to personally learn from this group and to share my years of corporate experience with fellow members and entrepreneurs.

Call to Action

So if you find any of this resonates with you and you feel your financial savvy could be enhanced, take a look around to find a local female angel investing group and get connected. If you live in Scotland take a look at Investing Women – we would love to welcome new members.

Next time – the story of Ambition and Growth. The first Women Investors Conference in Scotland!