When Tiara Singh, a 30-year-old executive in a foreign bank, moved into her small, new flat in suburban Mumbai, she literally danced around the rooms. “I was so proud of myself! I handled all the paperwork on my own. I can now advise my single women friends on how to acquire ‘property’ in Mumbai by locating the right place, negotiating the price, doing the paperwork and finally, taking possession after paying the down payment,” she exults.
“Builders, banks, financial advisors, art dealers and jewellery houses are well aware that the majority of Indians today are under the age of 35. They plan their sales strategies to suit people who are young, qualified and earning well,” she adds.
Ragini Mathur, a young doctor, has chosen to return to India after qualifying from a US university in paediatrics. “I could have got a lucrative job in the US. But I chose to come home because the market here is ideal for young, qualified people. I’ve saved enough money to buy a flat in Mumbai. I know of many young IT consultants and financial analysts who are returning to India because it is possible to have a good life here,” she says.
With more and more women joining the work force, the investment market in India has begun to serve the needs of this affluent and smart brigade. Surveys show that almost 40 per cent of employees in the flourishing banking sector are women with high qualifications and high incomes. They are investment advisors and strategy planners as well as managers for HNI clients. The entertainment industry and the media industry have high-earning women writers, directors, stylists, producers and managers in plenty.
Bollywood, a male bastion till recently, now has highly-paid women directors, writers, lyricists, musicians, technicians and set designers in addition to actors. “Whoever has exceptional talent and the ability to work hard is sought-after in today’s market and is rewarded handsomely,” declares Vinita Jain who is training to be a newscaster.
“I have a car to bring me to work and drop me home. I live in a comfortable flat. I use my money to enjoy the activities I love — travel, eating out, buying clothes and shoes. More importantly, I am a responsible earner. I am building my financial assets. Young women like me live well, splurge occasionally and save to build a secure future. I use the services of a financial planning firm to help me with my savings,” Vinita says.
What Tiara, Ragini and Vinita say is echoed by scores of young women in India today. The number of women entering the work force has increased because of several reasons.
The cost of living is high, even in small towns, resulting in women seeking employment. They provide wealth for their families in terms of education, possessions like fans and refrigerators. An increasing number of families are treating their daughters and sons as equals and give them the same education and career opportunities. The trickle-down effect ensures that women from every strata of Indian society, even those who earn small incomes, have learnt the value of buying some jewellery, a piece of land back home, or at the least, opening a bank account. They are turning out to be better money managers than ever before.