After graduating Princeton, Mellody took a full time position with Ariel Capital Management, LLC, where she had previously interned as a student. In 1994, when the company split from its mutual fund company distributor to create an independent mutual fund business, she was instrumental in this process. “That was very expensive and extremely risky,” Mellody recalls of the transition that helped her master the qualities of a leader. “I had to have a lot of resolve to be convincing to my colleagues and others. And I understood that if this didn’t work, then I was accountable.”
Mellody is extremely active in encouraging women and minorities to invest. Through her work as Good Morning America’s financial contributor and her regular financial column on abcnews.com, she has helped to create change in this arena. When we first started asking African Americans if they owned stock or stock mutual funds in 1998, 57 percent of those people who made $50,000 or more said that they did, versus 81 percent of our white counterparts. By 2002, the number had grown to 74 percent versus 84 percent. At a minimum, we want to be on par, but our ultimate goal is for everyone to be investors so they can retire comfortably.
Mellody’s strategies for financial stability and leadership:
“Do not suffer from ‘white knight syndrome.’ Sometimes single women think they don’t need to save or invest because when they get married they will be taken care of. But as the years start to pass and you haven’t been saving or investing, your prince may or may not come, and the downside of depending on that is just too great. Make sure you’re investing from an early age.”
Be in the know.
“If you are married, make sure you know what you own, so your husband isn’t the sole person who is aware of where the investment accounts are. In any kind of bad situation, you want to know what you own and how to get to it. Women often make their biggest money decisions during times of great emotional stress, specifically death or divorce. And it’s unfortunate because those are the worst times to make long-term money decisions. That can be prevented if you are in the know on your investments.”
Be a team player.
“In the beginning, one of the things I really liked about Ariel is that it was small, and you could be close to the action and the people who make decisions. It has a teamwork-oriented culture, and it stresses the importance of being good community citizens, not just good employees. I not only work for myself, but I work for 75 other people in Ariel. Teamwork is one of the key tenets of the mission statement here.”
Article by Mellody Hobson, President Ariel Capital Management, LLC