The financial needs of women deserve special attention. Women have made remarkable strides personally and professionally in recent decades. Women now control more than half of the wealth in the United States. The data also indicates that number will grow to nearly 2/3 in the next decade. The evidence clearly shows that financial planning for women is more critical than ever.
Women are the primary breadwinner in over 40% of American households. This is nearly a 400% increase since 1960, when the number was 11%. As women have grown in wealth and financial responsibility, it is clear that their requirements surrounding money deserve all of our attention.
Financial Planning For Women – Recent Trends in the Industry
Overall, the financial industry has been very slow to adjust to this remarkable progress. Although women control the majority of wealth, only 16% of financial advisors are female. Although the numbers look promising for young women coming into the field, there is much progress to be made. With this imbalance, it is important for women to identify an advisor who properly understands their financial goals and desires.
I can’t help but think about the progress made in the field of medicine. In 1970, only 7% of gynecologists were women. That number has now grown to 59%. I remember as a young child that all the important women in my life had male OB-GYN’s. Now, it is getting difficult for men to even enter that field of medicine.
I bring these important topics up for a reason. When I was a full-time personal trainer, approximately 90% of my clients were female. It was so exciting working with people with a variety of backgrounds. The professional accomplishments of my female clients were so impressive. I trained with doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders. Many of my clients were successful single moms who did an amazing job taking care of their family responsibilities. Others were primarily stay at home moms that were raising successful families and managing their household.
Meeting Your Individual Needs
Regardless of background, all of them had individual needs that had to be considered. Meeting those needs required important conversations and more listening than talking from my perspective! Money works in the same way. Whether male or female, all of us have a unique relationship with financial matters. Money is a deeply emotional topic for all of us. While you may fit into a general category regarding finances, your specific personal requirements must be identified and managed. Financial planning for women involves additional considerations but still requires the same sound principles.
One of the biggest issues that face women today is being the primary caregiver of the family. It is estimated that 66% of primary caregivers are women. Providing for loved ones is an emotional burden shared by a wide variety of women. When the term caregiver is used, many people think of taking care of elderly parents. In today’s economic climate, the term often involves so much more. Financial planning for women involves a holistic view of family responsibilities.
The fallout from the economic crisis in 2007-2009 continues to affect our society. A large percentage of the elderly have little saved for retirement and deal with chronic health problems. Recent data shows that adult children are struggling to establish themselves financially. Many of them continue to live at home or require financial assistance. Many of my clients have family obligations from siblings and other relatives that require financial and emotional capital. I think all of us know women who face this reality on a daily basis. It can be difficult to maintain a proper balance under these circumstances. These women are members of the sandwich generation, “sandwiched” between taking care of parents, children, and others.
Financial Planning for Women – The Elephant in the Room
Another unresolved challenge for many women is the gender gap in pay that still exists. The US census bureau reports that women still overall earn only 78 cents on the dollar for every dollar their male counterparts make. While there has been improvement in this area, progress has been slower than it should be. When I was in my corporate career, I saw this reality on a daily basis. I worked primarily in information technology as a project manager. It was common for women to be offered less money than men to do the exact same job. Quite frankly, I feel that the majority of my female colleagues made better project managers! This unfair situation just magnifies the need for women to properly manage their finances.
As a woman, what should you look for in a financial advisor? First off, you need someone who will listen closely. Your financial needs are uniquely yours. What are your personal goals for your money? What is the most important issues you need to address? Who are you responsible for in your family life? These are all questions that serve as the foundation for solid financial planning for women.
Myths and Misconceptions
There are many myths and misconceptions about women and saving money. I have read a lot of articles that suggest that women are too conservative as investors. Others suggest that women are spending away their savings on items like shoes and cappuccinos. In my practice, these opinions simply are not true. Women tend to have a different emotional approach to investing because of their needs. Data does indicate that men find investing “more exciting”. Does that make them better investors? Studies indicate that the answer is no.
I can attest to the fact that I spend more money on “frivolous” items than my wife does. I love golf, and it is an expensive hobby. People who do not enjoy playing golf would probably consider it a total waste of money. However, it is very important to me and my recreational needs. I manage my love of golf within the confines of our budget. I know so many women who do the same with their money. They take care of the big ticket items and buy things they personally enjoy when appropriate. I think movies like “Confessions of a Shopaholic” and other films just add to these misconceptions. I know people of both genders who struggle with personal finance and excessive spending.
Financial Planning For Women – A Lifelong Process
Financial planning for women is a lifelong process. It is important that you get advice that serves you now and in the future. You also know that life is full of surprises. All of us encounter unexpected events in our lives. Financial success requires you to be adaptable. Like most professional relationships, your financial advisor should be part of a trusted team with a long-term view. An article by Michael Kitces discusses the six key areas of value a good financial advisor will provide to you. I think these are important to consider, especially for women and their unique needs.
Organization and Accountability
Organization: You will receive help in order to bring your financial life in order. With so many responsibilities to juggle, women need to make sure they have good organization skills with their finances. A professional becomes a trusted team member in helping you manage your affairs efficiently and effectively.
Accountability: Accountability is a powerful ally in your life. There is a fascinating study about accountability and physical fitness I like to reference. I am sure you can relate to the effectiveness of a gentle nudge to help you progress. When you get clarity on your financial goals and commitments, it is a great start. A good advisor will help you build the road map to implementing your personal plan. Not only that, you will receive regular reviews that will provide information on your progress.
Objective and Proactive
Objectivity: Money and emotion are impossible to separate. However, it can be dangerous when emotion is the main driver behind financial decisions. There are key moments in life where it is so helpful to have an objective third party to help you navigate. Emotion can cloud your judgement in a particular moment. A good advisor will help you make sure you have all of the information you need at the right time. Then you can make the best decision possible at that particular time.
Proactivity: Since your advisor will be clear on your goals, they can help you anticipate future events in your life. A good plan involves preparation for upcoming transitions. Even when life throws you the unexpected, they can be managed with a solid action plan. Your big picture goals and desires will always be the driving force.
Knowledge and Partnership
Education: The old saying “knowledge is power” is so important when considering your financial needs. A good financial advisor has the heart of a teacher. I firmly believe in matching people with the choices that best suit their particular needs. It is important for you to understand where you money is going and what the intention is. You need to understand your options and the pros and cons to each recommendation. All of us have a different level of interest in money matters. Whatever your interest level is, your advisor should give you the appropriate amount of information. It should be presented in a way that you clearly understand and are comfortable with.
Partnership: A good advisor will become a partner on your journey toward financial fitness. Trust and transparency should be at the forefront of your relationship. You can see why crucial conversations and communication are so critical. Good partners are good communicators. This is true in our relationships with family and friends. It should also be a cornerstone of your relationship with your financial advisor.
Financial Planning For Women – You Deserve Outstanding Attention
Women deserve financial planning that meets their unique individual needs. I am grateful to serve so many outstanding female clients. They continually help me to become a better financial advisor through the insight each one provides. I have special appreciation for the financial and emotional responsibilities they deal with daily.
I think conversations like this are important and deserve to be at the forefront. We have seen so much social and economic upheaval in recent years. It is important to keep up with the changes and manage them as they pertain to your needs. Like most professions, working with someone who has personal interest in your success is crucial. I offer complementary initial consultations as part of my practice. I also provide free “second opinions” since i am in this business to help you get the most out of your money. Feel free to contact me anytime to set up an appointment!