How to afford to live beyond 100
Affinity Insights – Issue 5, June 2018
How to afford to live beyond 100
Affinity Insights – Issue 5, June 2018

Kathleen’s career choice in financial services was shaped by her family’s hardships as a child.

Kathleen Houssels is the Global Chief Investment Officer, Rosenberg Equities, AXA Investment Management, a world leader in financial protection and wealth management. Working in various leadership roles in AXA for almost two decades, Kathleen’s career choice in financial services was shaped by her family’s hardships as a child.

In this episode of Success Stories, Kathleen chats with Catherine Robson on successful investing practices, dealing with the emotional side of money and why be yourself is the best career advice she’s received.

 As the Global Chief Investment Officer, Kathleen oversees all the investment activities, at the cutting edge of algorithmic trading, for AXA Rosenberg Investments.

“At AXA Rosenberg, we’re not stock pickers, so we don’t have traditional fundamental analysts and portfolio managers that study individual stocks and have a few great ideas on names. We build sophisticated models to help us find a large number of undervalued stocks that we can invest in. So more systematic, rules based, consistent, ‘takes the human judgement out’ account.”

“We like to believe we can out analyse the analyst”

Although she had a happy childhood, Kathleen saw first-hand how financial hardship and tension around money compromises the day to day enjoyment of life. This experience shaped her relationship with money and led her to seek out a career in financial services.

“I had a wonderful family life, it was really good, very supportive and loving parents.”

“There was always a cloud around our house and that cloud was money. There was a stress related to it. We were worried about money, how to pay for things, always counting our dollars.”

“Coming into the finance industry was really exciting because I felt like I was able to come in and help people with their money.”

“This is something I learned growing up, it can be very stressful and if there’s anything I can do to help and make people’s lives less stressful on this front, it’s a good thing to do.”

“I think it’s about starting as early as possible and automating the process so it’s very easy for you. This idea of just do it, get going, if you can’t get yourself started in a financial program with savings, hire someone to help you get started. It’s just the most important thing is to start” advises Kathleen.

Overcoming emotional blocks with money can prove a little more difficult but is also key to getting ahead financially.

“Dealing with your relationship with money and getting into a good place on that” she says.

“One thing I’ve done that I’ve found to be really helpful is to try and give more and be more grateful. Not only worry about saving money but make sure to take care of other people and give it away. That’s empowering. To feel like it’s ok, I don’t need to be defined by money and I can use the wealth I’ve accumulated in different ways to help other people.”

Heading up a global, multi-asset investing team is a challenging role but Kathleen’s life away from work is also demanding. With five kids, including twins, she strictly prioritises her health to keep on top of career and family commitments.

“I want to come into work every day and be in the best place possible, both physically and mentally. That requires a certain mindset and effort towards getting enough sleep, to making sure I exercise, to eating well.  I feel like if I can come in and be energetic and clear-minded, I can handle whatever is thrown at me during the day” she says.

“I try and do something active every day, even if it’s very short; just to get the blood flowing”

Writing out three key tasks to accomplish during the week and locking down time to work on them also helps Kathleen stay on top of the important things.

“I make sure I keep focused on them and that there’s time in my calendar for those items. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed with the day to day, the ‘busy’ work that comes up, and lose sight of the key things to accomplish”

The best career advice she’s received was simple but incredibly powerful; be yourself.

“It’s a very powerful idea that we’re all good enough as we are and we should work to keep getting better. I can speak for myself, and I think for a number of other women out there, that there’s kind of an ongoing battle sometimes with insecurity.  Looking at other people that are successful and thinking ‘I’m not as smart as this person, I may not be as good as a speaker or as charming and elegant’.” says Kathleen.

“That’s ok. I’m good as I am. I’m going to work to improve but I’m not going to be this other person. I don’t need to be the same as everyone else. I can just be me, do a good job at that and that’s good enough.”

Recommended resources:

Failing Forward – John Maxwell


Listen to this week’s full interview at The Constant Investor or iTunes.