A recipe for balance

Women of Balance: Erika Jonsson and her goal to empower female investors


Tell us a little bit about yourself and your current job?

I’m a writer and former journalist who’s always loved telling stories and listening to them. I grew up near Shepparton, in regional Victoria – the home of SPC Ardmona – so sometimes it’s strange to realise that my two sons have lived their whole lives in an apartment in inner Melbourne.

I’m head of communication for Six Park, an investment company that builds and manages low-cost investment portfolios online. It’s a modern, accessible way of investing that combines technology with a very experienced financial team. When I started working for Six Park at the beginning of last year, I would never have imagined it would turn into a full-time role that would transform my attitude to money and finance. I’d never been an investor outside super before, and I’ve found it so empowering to start a journey that many women don’t consider.

I love being part of a company with a really clear purpose to take the mystery and fear out of investing in order to help more people grow their wealth – it’s an exciting opportunity to communicate that message.

What are you passionate about?

Professionally, I’m really passionate about helping women realise that investing isn’t just for men – there’s actually strong research that suggests that women make better investors than men because we’re more patient and, once we make a plan, we’re more likely to stick to it.

What are the most challenging things about your life?

My challenges aren’t unique – finding enough time in the day for everything I want to do, whether it’s spending time with my family, maintaining relationships with my friends, and making sure I prioritise self-care too. I’m definitely a plan-ahead person because the more organised I am, the less stress I feel.

The other thing that’s challenging me at the moment is finishing my first book – it’s been sitting at 76,000 words for too long. I’m still aiming to finish a first cut this year.

What achievement are you most proud of achieving to date?

Last year Six Park published a white paper for women on personal finance that focused on straightforward actions that women can take to improve their financial outcomes. It was a labour of love aimed at highlighting and addressing the fact that women retire with almost half as much superannuation as men and one in three women retire with no super at all. We need structural reform to truly address these problems, but as women we’re so much more capable than we often believe – hence the title “How to be your own superhero.”

Erika JonssonHow do you find balance?

About a year ago I took up running after having never been a runner. I hated PE as a teenager and was the least sporty person at my school, so I still can’t pinpoint what made me decide to just turn up to my local parkrun event one day and try to run 5km. It was really hard, and I wanted to give up, but I didn’t – and within a few weeks, I was hooked.

I now run 3-4 times a week, sometimes on my own and sometimes with my local running group. Running has definitely helped me live a more balanced life. I push myself to meet new goals, and I use exercise as a way to help me de-stress.

Do you have any mentors or people who inspired you to follow your dream?

Perhaps it’s a little obvious for a writer to thank her high school English teachers, but that’s the honest answer. I was fortunate to have gifted teachers who went above and beyond to help me transform a passion into a skill. Ann-Maree Ritchie and Heather Zaitzev had totally different styles of teaching – Ann-Maree was pretty tough on me, because she knew that I could handle it, while Heather was a very nurturing, inspiring educator. I’m still in touch with Heather on Facebook more than 20 years later and every now and then we share recommendations on books that we’ve loved, which is pretty special.

What is inspiring you at the moment?

I’m always reading, and I get a little nervous if I don’t have a few books to choose from. At the moment I’m loving Mythosby Stephen Fry, the actor and comedian – it’s his retelling of the Greek myths that contributed heavily to the English language, to our planets and constellations, and to the development of modern civilisation. I feel like I’m having a conversation with an old friend by an open fire rather than reading. When I was a child I had a dog-eared book of Greek myths that I read over and over, and I suspect I’ll end up reading this book just as many times.

I’m also diving in and out of Nudge, which uses behavioural economics to help improve decisions around health, wealth and happiness. It’s not exactly a book to read cover-to-cover while you’re on holiday, but it’s inspiring and really thought-provoking.

Do you have a message for women over 40?

Embrace every opportunity you have to learn and challenge yourself. Both running and investing have reshaped my understanding of who I am and what I’m capable of, and they’re things I never imagined being part of my life at all, let alone cornerstones of my identity. I think it becomes harder to get out of our comfort zones as we get older, but that just means the rewards of doing so can be even greater.

What does the future hold for you?

I’m hoping my future holds enough time to finish writing my first novel, to keep travelling with my husband and kids, and to complete my first marathon. Hopefully the future holds happiness, health and security.

Erika Johnson with her sons

Erika with her sons Joseph and Hugh

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Megan Houston

Balance website, community and content manager. Email megan@omnichannelmediagroup.com.au

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