Chart a Course of Financial Discipline

Most of us won’t have 97 years to save and invest. But Stephanie Mucha, who recently was featured in Barron’s, has. Ninety-seven long and productive years. And she has made the very most of each one.

Mucha’s peak annual earnings of $23,000 were modest even in 1994, when she retired. Still, she has managed to grow her assets to more than $5.5 million. Mucha has given $3 million to charity and retains $2.5 million — still percolating — in her portfolio. Her goal: to donate $6 million before she dies.

Mucha is obviously blessed with longevity, an enviable work ethic and a high financial IQ. But she doesn’t have any unusual advantages. She reads financial publications and uses good sense and, incredibly, does not even own a computer. Still she has succeeded. Fabulously.

Read the rest of Stephanie Mucha’s story here: The Arizona Republic


A Conversation With… Nancy Tengler

Providing proven wealth accumulation strategies, tailored advice and a comprehensive market analysis, The Women’s Guide to Successful Investing is a must-read for female investors who want to master volatile markets with long-term success.
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In The Women’s Guide to Successful Investing, you share the astounding facts that women control over half of the nation’s personal wealth; own businesses that grow at one and a half times the national average; and—when they don’t excuse themselves from participating—outperform men in the realm of investing. What are they doing with their money if not investing and why do you think they have a tendency to shy away from it?

Women tend to be savers rather than investors. They are more risk-averse than men which is one of the reasons they make better investors and consistently generate better returns. I think women shy away from investing because they have not been encouraged to participate in finance. A recent article on The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch website cites a recent T. Rowe Price study entitled the 2014 Parents, Kids & Money Survey which cites the surprising statistic that among children eight to fourteen, 58% of the boys say their parents talk to them about setting financial goals while only 50% of girls report the same. Clearly, one of the problems is that (young) women are still not encouraged as much as (young) men to focus on financial matters. In addition, they seem to self-select out of finance as well. ASU reports that the number of women enrolled in finance has declined over the last ten years. The irony? Women–empirically and anecdotally–make excellent investors.
Can you give us a sneak peek into the case studies and personal stories of financial management that you feature in your book?

I spend some time talking about stocks that have fallen from grace. We call these Fallen-Angel Growth stocks. These are great companies that have had a marketing misstep or a product problem and the stock price has fallen to reflect the problems. I compare three stocks using the techniques outlined in the book: Apple, Coach and Nordstrom. Together we explore the variables and reach a conclusion about which Fallen-Angel might be a stock to own for a lifetime and which may not. You’ll have to buy the book to find out which is which.

If you can narrow your eleven “intelligent investing rules,” what would you say are the top three steps a woman can take to improve their approach to investing?

First, women must identify an investing style that suits their risk parameters and their schedule. Once they establish a investing discipline they must stick to it. Like an exercise program or diet the point is to follow the plan, even on days when things don’t go exactly as planned. Second: don’t run with the fast crowd. Women should never buy a company they don’t know or understand. My biggest investing mistakes were “stock tips” from a friend who claimed to have made a great deal of money or provided assurance of a home run. Never, never, never follow that kind of advice. And finally, identify stocks to own for a lifetime. The kinds of companies that are industry and brand leaders–survivor companies–that you will feel confident owning for a lifetime.

Are there particular companies and/or stocks that women are more likely to invest in than men? What qualities do women look for in a company when investing?

Not really. Since women are more likely to be the purchasers in their families they are much more aware of product trends and quality; of client service oriented companies and the best discounters. Because they apply those critical skills to acquiring food and clothing and health care and just about everything else for their families they are well-positioned to identify stocks to own for a lifetime. What I can tell you about women is that the research shows they perform more detailed research than men and they tend to trade less often which enhances their total return.

When should women start investing and does age affect how they do so? Are millennial women who are relatively new to the workforce just as able as those who have worked their way up to management and c-suite positions?

Women of all ages should invest. I spend a great deal of time in the book explaining the long-term and medium term returns for stocks, the importance of the compounding of dividend payments and the passage of time. I share an anecdote of two transactions I engaged in the week my son was born in 1988. One was a share of IBM stock for him the second was a Donna Karan sweater that covered my post-baby body elegantly. That it was cashmere was lost on me and when I got the bill I choked. $1099. Plus tax. I still have the sweater. It is bally and misshapen. That share of IBM stock? Well it has increased 14 fold through the compounding of the dividend and growth in the stock price. Imagine if I had invested the $1099 in IBM stock! Conversely, as a professional money manager met an 80-year old man of considerable wealth whose entire portfolio was invested in stocks. He believed his time horizon was not his life but the lives of his heirs. All of us should invest that way with a small portion (whatever we don’t need to live) of our portfolio. It takes time–but well worth the effort.

What are the aspects of your professional career and personal life that drove you to write an investing roadmap for women?

When I retired from the investment business my kids were entering high school. I was busy with the daily living of carpools, and laundry and grocery runs and I no longer wanted to shoulder the responsibility of managing our assets. My husband and I interviewed investment managers and I was shocked by two things: the first was that though many of these firms knew me professionally, in each meeting the presenters spoke directly to my husband, ignoring me! And I had been a chief investment officer and portfolio manager in the same town for over twenty years as well as a financial news commentator. For the first time I understood why women check out of the conversation. The second problem I had was the fees being charged by the investment managers we interviewed. By the time we would pay their fees these money managers would be unable to generate performance in excess of the market. What was the point? That is when I began devising the intelligent investing rules I reveal in The Women’s Guide To Successful Investing.

How did you become such a knowledgable and capable financial manager? Is there any other book like The Women’s Guide to Successful Investing out there from which you were able to draw advice?

I have been investing other people’s money since the mid 1980’s. There have been some pretty exciting and devastating market periods over that thirty-year period. But overall, stocks have still managed to return between 9-10% per year on average. I’ve watched and learned. I’ve heard the panic on the financial news networks (on which I used to appear regularly) and I’ve learned that those times — the ones when everyone is scared — are often the best time to to identify great companies at fire sale prices. A stock like, Starbucks, for example, that traded below $9 per share in 2009 and is now trading in the mid $70’s. If you have been watching the company, know the product and have confidence in the management you can make a great deal of money over time. That is the purpose of the book: to share with smart, busy women a variety of strategies they can employ to meet their financial objectives.

My last two columns have dealt with the question of saving.  Because, of course, we must save before we can invest.  Below are the last two entries.  I hope you enjoy them.

The Arizona Republic–today’s column which delves into the concept of saving and shares a reader’s story.

The Arizona Republic–last week’s column which focuses on the difference in return when we invest rather than simply save.


More soon.  Loved seeing many of you at Rakestraw Books.  Thank you for your support and enthusiasm for the subject of women and investing.

Think of Retirement As 20 Years of Unemployment


I hope you will read my current column in the The Arizona Republic.  I discuss the disconnect between most individuals when asked about their readiness for retirement (the majority admit they are not ready) and how they plan to spend their retirement (in luxury!).  And what to do about it.

My book:  The Women’s Guide to Successful Investing is about to be released.  You can pre-order on whose editors just named the book a:  “Best Business and Investing Book of the Month!”


Buy Stocks in Each Sector to Take the Volatility Edge Off Your Portfolio

Years ago, my husband and I worked for the same global-investment-management firm in the same West Coast office. One day, the decision was made to close that office and move our team across country to New York City.

We didn’t want to move but because we both worked for the same firm, we didn’t exactly have a choice. Had we diversified our employment and, therefore, our primary source of income, we would have put ourselves in a much stronger position to make the best decision for our family.

We ignored the cardinal rule of investing: diversify, diversify, diversify.

But rarely do investors understand what it means to be truly diversified. Simply owning shares in various companies will not provide real diversification if, for example, those companies are all in the same industry or economic sector. Diversification is actually about how different investments perform in various economic scenarios. Or to put it another way: Selecting investments is not so different from how we select our friends.

Each one of my friends exhibits an overriding attribute. Some are great in a crisis. Others are fun to be around when times are good. I have friends who like to exercise and those who prefer the theater. Supportive friends and the kind who are scarce in times of difficulty. Like you, I have different friends who shine in different seasons. The same is true of stocks — certain stocks do well when the economy is thriving and others outperform when the economy is soft.

Read more here: The Arizona Republic


Two Very Different Companies with Very Similar Valuations–Which One Should You Own?

Investing is like an essay exam rather than a multiple-choice quiz. Essay answers are more nuanced than multiple-choice — more like an informed judgment call than the unassailably right answer. As a professor, I give my students essay questions because they create a complete picture of what young scholars know and don’t know.

Similarly, investing, like real life, rarely presents us with questions that are as straightforward as those on a multiple-choice test. That is why I am interested in investing in the stocks of well-managed, industry-leading companies; I don’t have to know “the answer.” I simply need the confidence that management is moving the company in the right direction no matter the short-term trends of the market. These companies won’t always generate positive returns, but the dominant ones in each industry have a much better chance of succeeding than the second- and third-tier companies. I also know I increase my odds of success if I select the most attractively priced stocks with the greatest potential for total shareholder return.

Let’s examine two leaders in two very different industries with similar price-to-earnings (p/e) valuations.  Click here to read my column in its entirety: The Arizona Republic

Dollar-Cost Averaging is a Prudent Investment Strategy

If you are a toe dipper or an inch-er when it comes to getting into cold water then you understand dollar-cost averaging.  A prudent strategy in rising and falling markets. Below is my latest column.

Perhaps by now you’ve compiled your stock “watch” list. Presumably it contains the names of companies whose products or services you admire.

In his book “One Up on Wall Street,” fabled growth investor Peter Lynch advises that the average investor can produce enviable returns just by looking for companies with products they know and use every day. Lynch goes on to say, “Everyone has the brainpower to follow the stock market. If you made it through fifth-grade math, you can do it.”

Let’s take heart in his words as we press on.

Most likely you are wondering if you should be investing now, with every headline screaming that the market has hit historical highs. Many individual investors fear that just as they are jumping in, the “smart money” is jumping out.

Read more here:  The Arizona Republic

Remember: The Stock Market is a Tug of War Between Fear and Greed

If there is one thing you need to remember about investing, it is this: The stock market is a tug of war between fear and greed.

Whenever possible, we want to buy from fearful sellers and sell to greedy buyers. My experience confirms that the best time to buy a stock is often when investors are running for the exits. It is also the hardest time to do so. That is why I keep a watch list of stocks I want to own (yes, I really do keep a list and so should you) and do my best to learn a great deal about the company before I make a purchase.

Read the rest of my column here: The Arizona Republic

Why Dividends Matter in the Long-Haul

Last week’s column on dividends offering the best indicator of company performance prompted a reader to ask an excellent question: Why don’t we hear more about dividends on the financial news networks? Frankly, because they just aren’t very exciting — like watching paint dry or tortoises race or glaciers melt.

The rest of my column can be read here:  The Arizona Republic

Revisiting My previous Post Regarding Oracle, Corp.

On August 21st of 2013, I wrote a syndicated blog post for The Motley Fool which I linked here.  In that post I suggested that investors consider building a position in the extremely unpopular shares of Oracle Corp (ORCL). At that time it was difficult to find a Wall Street analyst or financial news pundit with a positive comment on the stock.  Most were convinced that legendary CEO, Larry Ellison had suddenly lost his mojo.  He didn’t understand the “cloud” they exclaimed and wasn’t likely to recover from the misstep.  Having watched Ellison and the company for some twenty plus years, I was unwilling to sell him short.  He is a tough competitor and an outstanding leader.  Love him or hate him, you simply can’t argue with his track record in building wealth for himself and his shareholders.  I suggested in my post that he understood cloud computing and was in the process of making strategic acquisitions to right-size the company’s future.

Since that post the total return for the stock is a positive 28.5% versus 15.7% for the S& P 500.

Lest you think I am declaring victory, I am not.  I’ve been investing too long to make that mistake.  There will–at some point–be another problem.  The stock will likely go through another period of difficulty.  Which may just provide another opportunity for savvy investors to buy. When we own shares of great companies–what I call stocks to own for a lifetime– problems often create an investing opportunity.  The question we learn to ask when these companies encounter operating hiccups and stock price declines is: does the management team have the financial and strategic wherewithal to solve the problem?  The Wall Street crowd obviously has doubts which is why the stock price has declined, but often management is in the process of fixing the problem just when investors expectations and the stock price reach their nadir.  Remember that Wall Street and the financial news pundits have a short-term focus.  Ours should be long-term.

And, frequently, their disaster is our opportunity.