Financial Advice for Career & Family Focused Women
Updated: Apr 6, 2022
First, the good news. The awareness of empowered women managing their own assets, and their family assets, is well known in the financial planning industry. Charles Schwab reports that by 2030 women are expected to be in control of $30 trillion in investable assets.
Unfortunately, however, some larger investment companies have been slow to change, as company executives have been accustomed to certain demographics and power dynamics, i.e. men.
While it might take a little bit longer for the awareness to trickle down for you to truly get the type of engagement and service you need, with some effort, you should be able to find a financial firm that caters specifically to your unique needs.
For women, financial planning is just one of a number of on-going priorities
I would say that my female clients, who are married and often make an equal or larger share of the family’s income, are anxious because of the sheer number of things they’re juggling on a daily basis.
They are enormously busy at work and at home. Financial planning is a task that has been on their to-do list for a long time. So I come into the partnership with the recognition that time and energy are not to be wasted. My hope is that once trust is formed, and I’ve explained the process and the value to them, they can begin to delegate some of the responsibility to me. Watching the stress over managing their financial affairs leave my clients face and body is one of my favorite parts of my job.
These clients earn a great income but they’re also actively involved in their community. They also want to be able to keep up their desired level of engagement with their kids’ schools, with their volunteer activities, and with their families.
Sometimes it is this engagement that brings them to me in the first place. A conversation with friends might make them wonder if they are on track planning-wise with their finances. Other times, it is a major event, like a death in the family, that causes a more urgent need to reorder priorities and get their affairs in order.
The pandemic did that for all of us I think. If anything, it gave us time to think about our families and our future. I was never busier than I was during COVID because people were working from home and they were able to start checking these things off of their list.
Everything is interconnected
When meeting with couples, I endeavor to hold space for both people equally. Depending on the particular values or culture of the family, there might be one thing that they are most concerned about — say college planning — but once we start talking, a number of things come into play. The need to make a will, for instance. All of these financial decisions are interconnected.
I like to compare it to a doctor. When you come in for one particular injury, the doctor is going to stop and make sure all the important areas are examined as well. That’s what we do here.
You can’t come in here and give me a million dollars and walk out with a portfolio. You’re going to come in here and you’re going to get a full workup and a comprehensive financial plan.
We are going to make sure that we understand your thoughts, feelings, and emotions around money, and we’re going to have a very good idea of what your risk tolerance, time horizons, and goals are. Are you goal-oriented with a fixed number set in your mind for retirement or are you still figuring it out?
Understanding your communication style is important too as well as how you want to receive reports and information.
Are you numbers specific? Story specific? Visual? Do you want weekly reporting or do you only want one appointment per year?
It is really my job to ask and be curious to find out what your individual goals are and what the goals are for the couple.
The conversations are key
What’s really been interesting to me is meeting with couples who have been together for decades, but they’ve really never had a conversation about what it might look like when the kids leave the house, or what they will do after retirement. A lot of conversations happen for the first time in our office.
So sure, it’s about ISOs and nonqualified distributions and all those kinds of buzz words but it’s also about fostering conversations to lead to better awareness and understanding and communications about finances — because that’s going to flow into our plan and help us make better decisions.
I like to say that the financial planning process is for you, and the financial plan is for me. The planning process of gathering all the information, looking everything up, understanding what you have and what you don’t have is an amazing exercise for an individual and definitely for a couple.
The report that comes out of that work is mostly for me. I earn my fee both in helping, supporting, and encouraging that process in the beginning, but also by being able to read and understand and navigate the output of it.
My female clients tell me that they appreciate a financial planner who is willing to listen to their story and wants to know not only about how they got there, but who all the players are in their world and how they all fit together. If there’s a recognition that after a certain level of trust is gained, they can then take off and reduce the stress and anxiety in their life - that’s going to be really helpful to them.
It’s an unfortunate fact that women self-report less knowledge about finance than they have while men overreport it. As a result, women sometimes think that they don’t need or merit a full-time financial advisor - not because of the cost but because of some type of money story that they’re telling themselves.
You need the same tax advice, the same financial advice that your male counterparts get. You deserve just a high a level of care and attention and support because you’ve more than earned it.