Mutual funds for Grrrrls!


In the old days, when you were shopping for a mutual fund to invest in, you'd want to know its past financial history. You'd want to know its rate of return. You'd want to know what it invests in.

Not anymore!

Nowadays, the crucial question is, does it like girls?

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That's why OppenheimerFunds bought an expensive "newsvertisement" in the Washington Post recently where they touted their love for women and girls.

The short piece mentioned "girls" 3 times, "female" 8 times, and "women" 19 times. It touts the fact that one of Oppenheimer's funds invests in private education in China, which is attended by 64% girls (the other 36% are of an unknown gender).

Then the article peppers us with astounding facts.

Did you know that "females" contributed 18 trillion dollars to the world economy? (The amount men contribute is not mentioned, it is probably a fraction of that.)

Here are some other interesting revelations brought to us by Oppenheimer:

“Statistically speaking, the relationship between economic opportunity for women and national competitiveness is direct and positive,” said Linda Scott.

Does economic opportunity for men also have an impact? Not sure!

OppenheimerFunds portfolio manager Heidi Heikenfeld said that in general, women are much more inclined to forego their own aspirational purchases to invest in their children’s education and health.

And, by inference, men will waste the money on beer and football.

And attending school is key to unlocking women’s potential. A 2012 study from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development linked female access to education with higher rates of economic growth.

What about men's education? No research on that. Probably not as important.

When thinking about future prosperity, female respondents were significantly more likely to be optimistic, and were aligned with men on the importance of progress in emerging markets. These results bolster the idea that education and female participation in the workforce intersect to rejuvenate communities and markets, fostering a sense of optimism about the future.

Women=economic growth! Do men also make any contribution? The article does not say.

This article makes terribly obvious statements, that education and more people in the workforce produces more robust economies. Sure. But by limiting such obvious observations to women, OppenheimerFunds wants you to think they care more about women then, say, Vanguard or Fidelity.

They are treating women like dumb cows who will choose mutual funds based on ephemeral feel-good girl messages, rather than bottom line fund performance. I think this patronizing (or matronizing?) ad talks down to women and treats them like idiots.

In fact, I used to attend board of director meetings of Oppenheimer Funds. The law firm I worked for advised them on certain issues. At those meetings there was only one woman director. And the topics of conversations never, ever touched on girl-issues.

What do you think of Oppenheimer's approach for getting grrrl investors?

[originally published in AT]



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