It still happens quite frequently. I meet with a man and woman to create or review their financial plan and find that the man is doing most of the talking while the woman remains silent. Perhaps it’s a married couple in which the husband has taken control of the family finances, or maybe it’s a single female professional who has brought her dad or brother in for support. I can usually see the wheels turning in her head and her expression change from time-to-time, points at which I can tell she has a question or a desire to express. Yet she says nothing. Based on my experience, I know that she doesn’t want to ask a question that may make her feel uneducated or ill-informed. She’s afraid to ask for what she really wants because it makes her feel selfish. She may not speak because she assumes, like so many others like her, that the man in her life may be better at this stuff anyway.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
As a female advisor, I focus on building a woman’s confidence when it comes to investing, helping her gain knowledge, feeling free to express her own goals and desires, thus setting the course to her financial future of accomplishment. Contrary to what many may believe, women are very good at managing our finances, making strategic financial decisions and remaining disciplined when it comes to managing our financial plans in accordance with our long-term goals.
Why Women Should Be Involved and Active in their Financial Plan
From the inception of the plan to the ongoing management and review, there are many reasons why women should play an active role:
1. We’re good at it.
In my experience, observations and research on the subject, I’ve found that women are very good at goals planning, including their retirement planning.
A woman is likely to:
- Stick to the long-term goals set forth in a plan and less likely to change course based upon short-term events that may occur, like market volatility, She will carefully weigh the various scenarios and options to determine the best course of action for the long-term. She has the patience and the discipline to make decisions that will help her reach her goals.
- Consider the various life circumstances that she may be faced with, issues such as what she’ll do if faced with a major medical challenge or how she might want to give financially to her children.
- Be more detail-oriented and dig more deeply into how each detail and decision will impact her financial plan.
2. It ensures your wishes are incorporated into the plan.
Planning for your financial future in retirement is one of the most important things you’ll do for yourself and for your family. In the case of a married couple, it is something that should be collaborative with your spouse. When going through the process of developing the plan and managing it on a regular basis, it’s imperative that your wishes, goals and needs are expressed and taken into consideration. That only happens if you speak up. Don’t be shy or feel selfish, and please never feel that you’re asking a stupid question because whether it planning with your spouse or for yourself and your family, as the old saying goes, there is never a question that should go unanswered. There is nothing in our DNA that says we cannot do a financial plan well, and in fact, I’ve already described above why we’re great at it. After all, you want (and deserve) the plan that you’re creating or assisting in creating to get you to retirement to encompass your wants and concerns.
3. We need to be prepared if a tragedy or unexpected event happens.
Sadly, I’ve encountered more situations than I’d like in which a woman is not knowledgeable about the details of her family’s financial plan when tragedy strikes. Whether it’s a case of divorce, severe disability or death of a spouse, she’s left in the dark and doesn’t know where to begin. Sure, it’s nice to think that you need not worry about the “burden” of managing finances and that it’s much easier to leave investing to the man in your life. However, it is important to address these issues head on so that in the event, unlikely or not, that you have to take financial responsibility for yourself and your family, you are prepared. Consider these scenarios if the tragedy strikes:
- It’s not only important to know what you have and have access to your daily finances such as bank accounts, but you must also understand how your portfolio is structured. What short-term and long-term investments are included? Is there life insurance? Who are the beneficiaries? Are there trusts? Who has power of attorney to make decisions? These are just a few of the questions you’ll have to face.
- If you don’t have experience making financial decisions, you face a challenging road ahead if you’re then charged with doing so under a plan and set of financial situations you’ve never been a part of.
- In the case of death or severe disability of your spouse, you may have assumed certain things were in place – things important to you such as life insurance or college funds for the kids – but you find that these items haven’t been considered and now it’s too late.
Only YOU can ensure your wishes and needs are included in your plan and despite what you may think, you’re good at managing that plan in a way that will help you reach your goals.
What Advisors Can Do to Involve Women in the Planning Process
Because I work with so many women in my practice at Krilogy, I’ve learned that there are many ways to look for subtle cues and not only involve a woman in the process but also get them excited about what we’re doing:
- Tell stories. When I find a woman being very quiet and not participating in the discussion, I often tell stories about women who were hesitant at first, but who have successfully taken the driver’s seat when it comes to their finances. This provides a sense of empathy and the knowledge that she is not alone, while inspiring her to know that she can do this too.
- Explain everything to both the man and woman. I never assume that either party is fully knowledgeable about the details of what we’re discussing. I put everything in laymen’s terms and address both parties. Explanations are never directed just to the woman. I speak from a firm belief that both have equal knowledge or need an equal amount of additional information.
- Help them dream. In my experience, women are more people and dream-oriented when it comes to their vision for retirement. Men focus on the bottom line, yet that bottom line may not include his wife’s ideal life in retirement. By helping her dream and valuing her vision, we help her arrive at a plan that incorporates everyone’s goals.
Don’t be afraid to let your voice be heard in your financial plan. If you haven’t already been actively involved in these discussions, I encourage you to do so sooner rather than later. The longer you wait, the less time you have to work towards YOUR goals and the more chance you have for a tragedy to occur. Seek the advice and support of someone you trust, who values what you’re trying to achieve and takes the time to work with you to incorporate this into your plan. And always remember, you’re better at this than you think, so don’t delay the start of your journey towards accomplishment.