THE STRAIGHT S K I N N Y
Encouraging More Women to Take an Active Role in Financial Planning HER WEALTH MATTERS
THE FOLLOWING SCENARIO IS AN ALL-TOO-COMMON ONE FOR FINANCIAL PLANNERS A married couple will come in together, looking for financial guidance in their planning. The husband has investments all over the map and has his ideas planned out. The wife often defers to her husband, claiming she doesn’t understand finances and he’s got it planned out. But what happens if the husband dies tomorrow? Or what if the couple’s marriage falls apart? What if, in a tragic accident, the husband’s mental state is compromised, and he can’t make decisions? According to studies, women make about 85 percent of the day-to-day purchasing decisions for a home, yet only 25 percent have a hand in the financial planning and investing. Furthermore, about one in four women in the U.S. are over 50 when they get divorced, according to UBS, a Swiss investment firm. That same study found that the average age of “widowhood” in the U.S. is 59. So, when you factor in that women are outpacing men in life expectancy by four years, reaching an average of 72 years old, some women are living more than 20 years of their lives without their husbands making financial decisions for them. Two decades is too long to live in a financial fog. I want to see this trend start to change in 2019, and I’m hoping to encourage more women to get educated about their finances. This year, my clients can anticipate more workshops and presentations as I continue this commitment to educating women, who I know are capable of maintaining their financial investing and planning. Even if they don’t want to be the one making the main decisions, they must know what’s happening. I work with many women who can respond to a financial crisis and understand their financial outlook, and they won’t be surprised. What does his wife do? How does she pick up the pieces and move on when she has a financial storm looming over her head?
Many people don’t engage in assessing their understanding of financial options because it seems too hard, time consuming or just too confusing. Granted, finance isn’t an easy topic to tackle. And what you might learn online may not translate to your situation. No one is immune
from the stress that an unpredictable event causes, even for the “experts,” so I completely understand that fear. The biggest take away for women is to understand that they don’t have to be experts and that having a
trusted advisor is crucial. It’s important to understand conceptually, how the plan will work in any given situation, what the investment objectives are and whether any adjustments need to be made. Discussing “what if” scenarios may be uncomfortable for people, but it’s the best way to understand if your plan will work, regardless. Fears can be alleviated by understanding your options in the context of your life with clear, comprehensible explanations. I act as a sounding board for concerns and worries, and from there we work to co-create solutions that make sense for where my clients are now, and where they want to go. Occasionally, I hear from women that male advisors are condescending in their approach. Often, it’s a communication disconnect. I work to engage everyone in their planning process. Recently, a client mentioned that before he and his wife began working with me, she was very nervous about his retiring. And while he knew they’d be okay, it was hard for her to see it. Taking the time to explain things in context, working the numbers together, and explaining how the income distributions would work allowed her to see that they really were fine. She’s now much more at ease with the decision and is freer to stop and smell the roses. One of the most common questions asked by a woman who loses a spouse is “Will I be okay?” In this instance, she already knows she will be. It’s something that more women need to experience.
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