How Do We Solve Wealth’s Masculinity Problem? And Other Wealth-Building Q’s

By Sallie Krawcheck

A few weeks ago, I wrote about “how to build wealth.” It led to quite a few discussions at Ellevest and quite a few questions from all of you.

You wondered whether any “get rich quick” strategies have ever really worked out at scale.

Answer: Not that we can find. Tulips? No. Dotcom bubble? No. House-flipping? Nope. SPACs and meme stocks? No and noooo. Crypto? Not so far. NFTs? Also no.

In fact, it’s sort of worse than that. Because it has been possible to be right about the underlying fundamentals and growth potential of something like a significant market shift or the emergence of a new asset class — and yet still lose a lot of money investing in the early stage of that change. (, anyone? Or most of the car companies that did not become Ford or GM?)

You also looked at this year’s decline in stocks (the Nasdaq is down nearly 30% from its high) and wondered whether the equity market doesn’t build wealth after all.

Answer: We still think it does. This year might hurt, but it’s by no means an outlier: The stock market has gone up by about 10% a year on average since 1921. Within that average, the S&P 500 has declined as much as 43% (in 1931) and gone up as much as 50% (in 1933). Earning financial returns will always involve risk.

The bond market has also been pretty putrid. Does that mean that investing in a diversified investment portfolio is a losing strategy?

Again, IMO, no.

The historical reasoning behind the 60/40 investment portfolio (the old “60% in stocks, 40% in bonds” chestnut) is that when stocks do well, bonds tend not to, and vice versa; and that a good economy is good for stocks and bad for bonds, and — again — vice versa. But that didn’t “work” this year.

At Ellevest, we take our diversification pretty seriously. That means we invest your portfolio in stocks and bonds (and alternatives). To break it down further, that means — depending on your personal circumstances and goals — in small cap stocks, in global stocks, in municipal bonds, in real estate (via REITs), and more. It could even mean — again, depending on all-things-you — investing your portfolio in private investments, like venture-stage companies or in renewable energy infrastructure assets.

But the conversations we had on wealth didn’t stop there. We also talked about how building wealth for women is some of the women’s movement’s unfinished business.

We believe that. And so does Gloria Steinem.

She has noted that because so many of the leaders of the women’s movement in her era came from the left, wealth never really took center stage for them. Talking about building wealth felt, at the time, like buying into the patriarchal system that they were fighting against.

Since then, she’s changed her outlook, as demonstrated by one of her most referenced quotes: “We’ll never solve the feminization of power until we solve the masculinity of wealth.”

I know it’s pretty obvious, but we agree.

So what does wealth look like — for women in particular — when it’s not weighed down by old ideas?

The core concept of wealth is, in fact, pretty simple. Wealth is your financial net worth — your assets minus your debts.

But the word “wealth” shows up to the party with a lot of baggage, beyond its simple definition: It’s an old, self-satisfied, portly white man smoking a cigar. Or it’s a vest-wearing, Silicon Valley-living, start-up-funding VC dude. It’s a Ralph Lauren ad of a multi-generational, cashmere-wearing family living their horsy lives on their country estate. It can be greedy. It can be grabby.

But as Gloria Steinem has noted, one thing “wealth” hasn’t been: Feminine. Quite the opposite. For so long, in our society, it’s been viewed as attractive, feminine, even adorable to be bad with money.


To move forward, we have to change the connotations of the word “wealth.”

If we can take back the word for ourselves — and then work unapologetically, unabashedly toward building wealth — we can initiate a cascading set of changes. Like more fully owning the choices we make in our lives — all while increasing our wealth, which itself makes more choices available to us.

For some of us, that choice may be to leave our dead-end job. For others, that may mean leaving a stagnant relationship. Or providing more support for our extended families. Or traveling more. Or giving more to political candidates who are committed to stopping the madness.

For all of us, it can mean a reduction in our stress.

So there are no reliable “get wealthy quick” schemes out there, or even ways to shortcut the process. Instead, historically, the key has been to harness the power of two simple things. The first is to take recurring “small steps” (ie, set up a recurring deposit into an investment account, or put your year-end bonus into an investment account). And the second is to let time do its thing.

Together, those two actions can allow you to tap into the magic of compounding — historically more powerful than any “get rich quick” concept — and trust the process.

I believe we’ll get there.

Sallie Krawcheck Signature


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Sallie Krawcheck

Sallie Krawcheck is the Founder & CEO of Ellevest.