Up Close With Angelina Yao
Posted on 27 September 2018
Stanford graduate, Angelina Yao is making investing fashionable. She is the founder and CEO of Heels & Yield, a financial wellness company for women, based in Hong Kong. Angelina saw a need for a personal finance company that focuses not just on money and investing, but on wellness and empowerment.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’ve been investing professionally for more than a decade. At my last job, I worked as a senior analyst and eventually as a pan-Asia portfolio manager at BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager with US$5.5 trillion in assets under management. Now I have my own company, called Heels & Yield, a financial education company that empowers women.
How did Heels & Yield come about?
After a serious injury, I realised that I felt unfulfilled even though I’d had a lot of success in my career. So I began a journey towards what I now call "holistic wealth" and decided to start my own company. I want to teach women how to invest and create a community of women who can support each other by transforming their relationship with money.
What kind of a spender would you say you are?
If I had to sum it up in one word I’d say “aware.” My background has empowered me with a wealth of knowledge to make informed financial decisions. I create an annual spending plan so I know how much I’m investing in my future and how much goes into things like a vacation or shopping fund. It may sound restrictive, but it’s actually liberating to know that my finances are in order. Often I can achieve my financial goals sooner than I anticipated when my investments do better than expected. But I’m human, too. For example, sometimes I exceed my budget for shopping during vacations. Then I scale back on other things, It’s all a balancing act. When the investments in my vacation or shopping fund do well, I have a larger budget for discretionary items like bags, shoes and getaways. Having a plan is especially important now that I run a business and managing my money enables me to help others and give back to society. I love to share and empower other women.
What are your top three golden rules when it comes to managing your money?
My rules are the three Cs:
1. Clarity: If you don't know what you want to make happen, how can you make it happen? Your first step is to think about your goals.
2. Confidence: So often, fear and doubt cause us to lack confidence in ourselves and our goals. This holds us back from achieving what we want. Address your fears! If you’re afraid because you don't have knowledge in a particular area, ask for help.
3. Competence: When we don’t know how to do what we need to do, we end up procrastinating. Learn the basics and start by taking small steps toward your goals.
What's the one financial tip you would give someone new to the workforce?
I would advise anyone just starting to receive a stable source of income them to take advantage of the power of compound interest. You’ll be surprised at how much your savings will grow in a few years if you invest only a couple hundred dollars (US) each month! If you don’t have hundreds, start with whatever you can. And your investments don’t have to be risky--that’s the beauty of compounding.
Lastly, some people find it rude to talk about money. What's your take on it?
Talking about money has been a taboo topic for almost forever and many people find the topic too personal. For example, women may talk to each other about budgeting and managing the household expenses, but when it comes to financial planning and investing to achieve life goals, they aren’t so open. It’s understandable and not unusual for women to have a hard time talking about money. Even in the professional realm, we lack female role models who can pass along information about how to manage and invest money-only 24 percent of financial planners in the U.S. are women.
I think it’s essential that women get comfortable discussing money. It has become a little easier. Since the 1970s, when the feminist and sexual revolutions started to create more openness generally, women have started talking more about money. Removing taboos around discussing and managing money to achieve your goals is exactly what I'm trying to achieve with Heels & Yield. My aim is to make it safe for women to care about their money, be wise with their money, and talk to their loved ones about their money. Money is a tool we can use positively to take care of ourselves and others. When we learn how to take care of our money in a loving way, focusing on achieving holistic wealth rather than just financial wealth, we can grow into a life that is more fulfilling. Education is empowerment.