Foxcroft’s Investment Club hosted three speakers from Fidelity Investments for a lunchtime talk on Wednesday. Kate Hastings, Vice President of the Tri-State Region at Fidelity Family Office Services (and Foxcroft’s Board Chair) along with Lacey Johnson, CFP, a Vice President in the Family Office Services in Boston and Amanda Topping, CFP, a Director in Fidelity’s Digital Asset Services shared their career journeys and some eye-opening statistics about women and investing, and answered a few excellent questions from a large group of students gathered over Zoom to talk about all things financial.
After a brief introduction by Club Head Eunice Y. ’21, each speaker shared how they got where they are today. Ms. Johnson started at a Fidelity Call Center right out of Baylor University. Soon, she began to see the relevance of her psychology major not only in how psychology drives the market but also in how it drives an individual’s relationship with money. She studied for her Series 7, the General Securities Representative Exam, and is now a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), which allows her to help clients use their investments to meet their financial goals.
Ms. Topping, also a CFP, admitted to having a strange fascination with money in high school. Not so much the money in her wallet, but the money fueling the economy. She wanted to know the answers to big questions like, “What is money?”, “How does it work?”, “What is the stock market?” Having a club like this one would have been a great opportunity for her. To provide a little context about how times have changed, Ms. Topping talked about her first job at Fidelity as a mutual fund accountant. She had to calculate the net asset value of the fund, then run down the hall to the person who would call that number into the newspaper where it would be printed the next morning. That’s how people knew what their funds were worth on a daily basis. From there, she became an equities and options trader, and more recently, moved into digital assets, like cryptocurrency.
Raising the topic of cryptocurrency brought up two questions right away. Eunice wanted to know if we should be investing in bitcoin, to which Ms. Topping replied that there are many things to consider when investing. One is evaluating your tolerance for risk. If you are open to a very risky investment, then bitcoin might be something to consider. Catherine J. ’21 wanted to understand what happened in the GameStop/Reddit short squeeze incident a few months ago. Rather than try to explain it (since it would take all the time and more!), Ms. Topping suggested that the Club use the incident as a case study and look at four aspects of the case:
- The behaviors that drove it
- The key players
- What happened
- How everyone was impacted
Ms. Hastings’ journey to a career in investments actually started at Foxcroft, in an Art History class — art being one of many things people can invest in. She moved from banking to Fidelity 10 years ago. With 48,000 employees, $9 trillion in assets, and 30 million individual investor clients with anything from a few thousand to many billions to invest, it’s a global force in the investment industry, and it’s led by a woman CEO. Ms. Johnson provided some additional context for women as investors, saying that when she was born in 1978, it was just four years after a woman could purchase a house on her own. She went on to say that when women invest, their investments perform better, but women typically save more than they invest. In addition, since women typically live longer than men, as the Baby Boomer generation begins to pass down their inheritance, women will need to be informed and educated about investments for their financial health.
A question from co-head Elaine P. ’22 provided an opening for a mini-seminar on the many aspects of investing — she wanted to know how President Biden’s infrastructure plan would impact the stock market. In the near term, all three speakers thought the infrastructure bill would be great news for the market. It would create jobs and be good for businesses, especially in certain sectors, even with an increase in their taxes.
Ms. Johnson noted importantly that the market doesn’t go up forever, so investors have to pay attention to their whole portfolio. In the case of this bill, what sectors are going to benefit the most? Transportation. Technology. Health Care. Other sectors — like food — remain stable regardless because people have to eat. But an example of an industry that might be negatively impacted in an economic downturn, travel and leisure, was hit hard during the pandemic, which is why it’s important to pay attention to what’s happening in the whole economy, your entire portfolio, and to spread your risk.
Once you’ve decided on a sector you’re interested in, how do you decide between like companies, Ms. Hastings posed, noting that when you buy stock you are buying ownership. Ms. Johnson encourages investors to do fundamental analysis, which essentially means to do your homework. Understand what you’re buying. Compare like companies. In addition to the fundamentals, ask questions like:
- How innovative are they?
- How diversified are their boards/senior management?
- Do they have equitable pay practices here in the States and overseas?
As lunchtime drew to a close, Ms. Hastings reminded the group that investing is a lifetime journey, and handed out a little homework assignment and food for thought: What is the future of investing? A few piped up right away that tech stocks, green energy, infrastructure, and impact investing were the wave of the future, but the Club will have much to discuss at their upcoming meetings!