One of the most compelling reasons for starting my own company was that I began to realize the importance of having an empathic ear and listening to my clients’ needs, fears, and desires, and to be an advocate for them. Laura approached me when she lost her spouse unexpectedly. He had handled the finances for them, and she was at a loss as to what to do and where to begin without him. When we sat down and talked, she shared her feelings and her goals with me. It was clear to me she was ready to move on to the next step, so I helped prepare her for it.
I explained that I would guide her through this process, now and throughout our working relationship. She brought in all her financial paperwork— trust documents, certificates of death, investment and retirement statements, social security statements, stock certificates, pension and 401K documentation, insurance policies and bank accounts. Then we began the process of getting her life back on track. I have found that many women still lack confidence when it comes to handling their finances and investments. The current market volatility creates even more anxiety around making the right decisions for you.
The Family Wealth Advisors Council (FWAC), a national network of independent fee-only wealth management firms, took the pulse of 551 women with a net worth of at least $1 million. The basic finding was that women are dissatisfied with the financial services industry because they sense disrespect and condescension from the advisors who serve them. Women have unique needs and goals, and want to feel they are being heard.
According to the report, approximately two-thirds of the nation’s wealth will be in women’s hands by 2030. Female entrepreneurs are starting businesses at more than double the rate of men, and will create more than half of the nearly 10 million new small-business jobs by 2018. And women under 30 are earning higher salaries than men in many cities. As a side note, this may be a good time to be in the women shoe business or consider investing in one.
With this shift in wealth, the one-size-fits-all approach to financial advice is not working because it doesn’t work for women. Women appreciate a more personalized approach, one that starts with education. Having an understanding of what you are doing and what approach you are taking will help you build the confidence needed when facing important life decisions.
As an advisor, I want to help women feel validated, and be confident they are doing what is right for them. Managing an investment portfolio can be a daunting task when there is constant market turmoil, even for the experienced money manager. I cannot image what someone who has lost a spouse or is going through a divorce may feel having to approach this task alone for the first time.
Organizing your finances can be very emotional as you think about what you need to do right now and in the future to take care of yourself and your family. So, realize and accept that it is okay to be emotional. It is human. Just do not make major financial decisions out of emotion. Make sure you have a sounding board. Your decisions will have a lot to do with the lifestyle you have now and for the rest of your life. According to the Social Security Administration, only 37% of women are living the lifestyles they desire in retirement. Make sure you are part of the other 63%.