Effie Zahos: Why I joined the board - Let's make change!
The world of money is always interesting and ever-changing. In 2020 alone, we've seen the cash rate fall to a previously unthinkable 0.1%, home loan rates below 2% are now commonplace, and in the space of less than 12 months Australian shares have experienced their worst ever fall and also their highest 1-month gain in almost two decades.
It goes to show that nothing in the world of money stands still for long!
Yet some things have not changed.
Despite the wealth of information we have today about personal finance, too many Australians struggle with their money. Household debt is high, financial literacy remains low, and consumers are still falling victim not just to scams but also for dodgy financial products.
So, when I was invited to join the board of InvestSMART, I jumped at the opportunity.
Sure, I believe InvestSMART offers a great product – it’s simple, it allows investors to be self-sufficient, and the capped fees offer serious value for money. Australians have so much choice when it comes to investing, and being able to start small and take control of your own investments at an affordable price makes for good consumer policy. And that’s what InvestSMART offers.
But it wasn’t the only reason why I joined the team.
The real driver is that it gives me an opportunity to bring the voice of consumers to the board of an ASX-listed company – something that is missing from so many boardrooms around the country.
If there’s one thing COVID has shown us, it’s that when governments, businesses and regulators work together, positive change can be made – and it can be made fast. So, after 20 years of championing consumers’ interests from their side of the fence, I am now aiming to bring change from the business side.
On a personal level, I have to say, hats off to InvestSMART for asking a Queensland girl whose passion and career has always been around financial literacy to join the board. I certainly don’t fit the standard mould of a board member, and I won’t be getting an oak-panelled office. I’m still a working mum with a family and a mortgage, and none of the usual trimmings that go hand-in-hand with a board position.
Even more kudos to InvestSMART for bringing a woman to their board. In 2020, women accounted for 41% of new appointments to ASX 200 boards. It’s a healthy sign that companies which stubbornly hold onto their status as a male-only zone are becoming a thing of the past, and I’m proud to be part of the growing number of women bringing a female perspective to a listed company.
Of course, sitting on the InvestSMART board is also a chance to work with some very talented people. I’ve worked alongside Paul Clitheroe for many years, and I’m excited about partnering with other finance industry legends like Ron Hodge and Alan Kohler.
2020 has dished up plenty of surprises, and I never expected that by the end of the year I’d be sitting on the board of an ASX company. But I am certain about one thing.
Making investing a regular part of our lives can make a real difference to our financial wellbeing. However, the cost of face-to-face advice is still beyond the reach of many people. If we want more Aussies to reach their financial goals there has to be an alternative – and when it comes to convenience, control and affordable costs, it’s hard to go past digital platforms.
I’m excited about being part of InvestSMART.
Together, let’s make a difference!