By Amanda Morrall (email)
1) Retirement income
A reminder to join our live web-interactive this Friday at 12:30 p.m. We'll be chatting with Mercer NZ's Martin Lewington about retirement readiness; obstacles, strategies and what steps you should take to prepare yourself properly. To find out more on how to participate, read our promo here. This time, Twitter users will also be able to join via Twitter. If you are keen to have your questions answered but won't be able to participate please feel free to email me directly and I will pass them along to Martin.
See also, Tower's two-step process for a "quick retirement guesstimate" here.
2) What's so wrong with renting?
Personal finance editor Rob Carrick of the Globe and Mail in this video chat here looks at the upside of renting in an overpriced property market. The discussion relates to Toronto's bubbly house market but parallels can be drawn with some cities in New Zealand as well. Auckland springs to mind. The Canadian economist Carrick interviews suggests that if the house price is 15 times or more the annual rent, you're better off renting.
See our home grown resources on the rent or buy dilemma below:
3) Wine lovers unite
The couple that drinks wine remain faithful to one another. That's the happy conclusion drawn by two Belgian economists who decided to examine the link between monogamy and drinking societies. Contrary to what one might expect of drinking cultures and their licentiousness, the good economists found that alcohol was a gelling factor for couples with wine being the most cohesive intoxicant of them all. Another reason to love wine? I think so.
4) Fat cat salary sacrifice
Danny Dorling, writing for the Guardian, suggests one way to boost the ailing U.K. economy is by getting fat cats on bloated salaries to sacrifice some of their pay to put more people on the payroll to boost employment. I can just see the executives queuing now to do their bit for Mother England. "Yeah right!"
5) Are female bankers worse than men?
Seems I rankled some nerves at the office yesterday with my story selection in Take Five for Tuesday as I discovered this one in my email this morning debunking the notion that female bankers play it safe(r) then men when it comes to money. I didn't make it through the 80-page support document but gather from the Financial Times story below that lack of experience (relative to men) was an aggrieving factor.
Ah, will it ever end. The gender war?
Women bankers take more risks, says study
By Ralph Atkins in Frankfurt
The image of women as safer managers less likely to fritter away a bank’s finances is wrong – and politicians should take note, according to Bundesbank research.
Board changes at banks that result in a higher proportion of female executives “lead to a more risky conduct of business”, conclude the authors of an extensive study of German finance houses released by the country’s central bank.They also find that younger executive teams increase risk-taking – but more PhDs in management have the opposite effect.
The results, which counter the popular image of women managers as less likely to take risks, could also prove politically controversial. Ursula von der Leyen, Germany’s labour minister, is among European politicians pushing for stronger measures to increase female board representation.
Such political pressure is based on a desire for greater gender equality, the report’s authors note, but the likely impact on corporate behaviour is less frequently discussed. Their findings “suggest that a public policy debate must take this impact into consideration”.
Although it published the report, the Bundesbank said on Tuesday that the results “do not necessarily reflect the views of the Deutsche Bundesbank or its staff”. The Bundesbank has one woman – Sabine Lautenschläger, deputy president – on its six-person board.
Explaining their controversial findings, based on an analysis of German bank executive teams from 1994 to 2010, the report’s authors suggest a major reason is that women executives tend to be “significantly less experienced” than male counterparts, and that lack of experience drives risk taking.
Another explanation could be that, with women still rare in boardrooms, their inclusion breaks up a clubby atmosphere. The authors write: “If group members come from heterogeneous backgrounds in terms of experience and values, this might increase the potential for conflict inside the group and hinder decision-making.” The obstacles women face in entering bank boards could also include accepting a higher risk exposure, they add.
They are probably on less controversial ground in arguing that a decrease in the average board age increases risk taking – and that regulators should take a closer look at the ages of bank executives. According to the study, a five-year reduction in the average age of a board’s members increases the ratio of risk-weighted assets to total assets by 2.66.
Their conclusion that more executives with doctorates reduces risk taking is attributed “to the fact that better educated executives employ more sophisticated risk management techniques and adjust the business model accordingly”.
Only 14 per cent of directors in Europe’s largest companies are women, according to the European Commission, which this month announced the first stage of a legislative proposal that will probably impose a quota of women on large company boards. Sceptical national governments have vowed to block EU-level measures, however.
The Commission cited a McKinsey study that found companies with mixed boards had 56 per cent higher operating profits as an argument for legislation.
Several European countries including France have passed mandatory gender quotas, a path first taken by Norway in 2004.