Effie Zahos

Magazines and money: Bauer’s Effie Zahos on her unexpected career in media

After 22 years working at Money magazine, Effie Zahos is excited to be spreading the message of financial literacy to a vastly expanded audience.

In March, Bauer Media announced the sale of Money magazine and instead of following the publication to its new home, Zahos, the then editor, opted to stay and take on a new role with the company. As finance editor, commentator and financial literacy campaigner, Zahos is working with all of the titles within Bauer’s stable to help to educate people, and specifically women, about how to better manage their money.

“Financial capability is really the core of what I’m about. It’s what gets me up in the morning. It’s what gets me going. I don’t think I could do anything else other than that,” Zahos told Magazine Networks.

A major part of her new role is a campaign designed to reduce the gap between what women know about money compared to their male counterparts. The Financially Fit Females campaign kicked off on International Women’s Day and sees Bauer committing to a million ‘actions’ to better equip women when it comes to all things finance. “There’s clearly a big gender gap in financial literacy,” says Zahos.

Through her new role, Zahos is uniquely positioned to change this as her reach is extended to a much broader audience. While Money magazine tended to skew male and reach people over 40, Zahos is now speaking to an audience of nine million women across Bauer’s brands which include The Australian Women’s Weekly and Elle. “These are strong brands. Financial literacy needs to be a part of each and every one of them because money is an issue that affects all of us,” says Zahos.

Since making the change, Zahos has been doing the rounds of Bauer’s titles liaising with editors to help find opportunities to inform and educate readers.

“It’s everything from the initiation of a story idea to putting it down on the page. Obviously, they are the experts in their titles, so they are using me as the money expert” she said.

The aim is for each article produced with the assistance of Zahos to link to a tangible ‘action’ based around topics including saving and investing, maximising super, getting paid what you’re worth as well as separation, divorce, financial abuse and homelessness.

On the Financially Fit Females website at the time of writing, a ticker notes that 24,734 ‘actions’ have already been completed.

A unique career in finance

Money has certainly played a significant role in Zahos’ life. After completing a Bachelor of Economics at the University of Queensland, she got a job as a graduate trainee with a major bank. She would go on to work in commercial, business and retail banking until she was tapped on the shoulder by Paul Clitheroe. Television and radio presenter, financial analyst, advisor and a publisher, Clitheroe was working on Channel Nine’s Money program and was looking for a finance expert to join the show. Zahos jumped at the opportunity, despite a major cut to her salary as she moved across from the world of banking. Her income wasn’t the only big change that came with the role. There was also a cultural shift.

“I remember my first day going to the Money show cottages at Willoughby. All the shows had their own house. Next to us was Good Medicine and Getaway. I rocked up in a  business suit complete with stockings and a briefcase. Who wears stockings these days? Let’s say everybody else was a lot more casual. My office was in a bedroom next to the toilet. It was just so laid back,” says Zahos.

Despite the culture shock, she loved the world of media and in addition to working on the TV program, she got into publishing with Money Magazine. The experience has been invaluable and is paying dividends in her current role where she’s working with Bauer’s teams across a multitude of platforms.

“I’m working across so many different platforms. It’s not just print – it’s print, it’s digital, it’s podcasts. It can be seminars or master classes as well as working with not for profit organisations, to bring about change. When you’ve got the reach and resources, the results can be powerful,” said Zahos.

In the past 12 months, Bauer has demonstrated its abilities to influence government with a campaign to abolish the tax on female sanitary products. The tax was lifted in October last year following the push from the publisher. Under Zahos’ stewardship, next in the publisher’s sights is a national register for power of attorney.

“When you’ve got an outdated power of attorney in place, and it’s not in the right hands, in a lot of cases, financial abuse does happen because there is no national register,” said Zahos.

Zahos is also looking to extend the Financially Fit Females Campaign by working hand-in-hand with non-profits to help women in dire financial situations.

A Real Girl’s Guide to Money

If that wasn’t enough to keep her busy, Zahos recently had her second book published. A Real Girl’s Guide to Money: From Converse to Louboutins is now on sale and offers women a no bullshit guide to handling financially challenging situations.

“The publisher came into my office one afternoon and she was having her fourth child. She was immaculately dressed and she walked in and said, ‘Oh my goodness. I’m pregnant. How am I going to afford this child?’ I just thought, ‘Here’s a career woman with a great income and she’s stressed about her finances’,” said Zahos. This, and countless other examples of women speaking to her about their financial challenges, drove Zahos to write the book. It was also a chance to find her own voice after adopting an editor’s tone for Money Magazine. “I thought that I’d love to get something out that has my voice,” she said.

Prior to A Real Girls Guide to Money, she wrote a book for children. “That came from a really organic place. My own son was a spendaholic. I thought, ‘Oh, this is embarrassing. My own son can’t save and I’m the editor of a finance magazine.’ So I wrote that book really for him,” she said.

From empowering a new generation for better money management to arming women with the skills needed to do the same, Zahos has moved effortlessly into the role of financial literacy campaigner.