Encouraging Women to Get Engaged with Financial Planning
As a female professional in the financial planning field, there’s something unfortunate I’ve seen too frequently. For a variety of reasons, the female spouse is often absent from our meetings. Additionally, we’ve had only a small number of single female clients seek our advice. This weighs on me.
A recent Fidelity Investments study showed that 92 percent of women surveyed want to learn more about financial planning. Eighty-three percent want to be more involved in their finances, yet only 47 percent say they would be comfortable talking to a financial professional. Does this mean women have poor money instincts as compared to men? Actually, studies show the opposite! While men tend to be more comfortable talking about finances, women are better savers and are better long-term investors compared to men.
So why are women hesitant to engage? I believe it’s because the industry has been slow to change. I’ve been in this field for almost 10 years, yet when I think of the financial industry, I still picture a man in a suit behind a big desk. As a woman, that’s not appealing to me. And beyond that, the industry focus for far too long has been on investments. Not to be flippant, but who cares? Are investments necessary to fuel any financial plan? Of course! But, most people don’t really care about the stocks in their portfolio. What people care about is if their families will be okay if something happens to them, if they will be able to pay for college, and if they can ever stop working.
Thankfully, the financial industry is changing, but too slowly. Many firms now say they’re focused on you, not only on your stocks and bonds. Yet, the conversation still seems to center around investments, and women are still largely absent from the conversation. The industry needs to do better. Women also need to get involved to make it so.
The harsh reality is that a husband will likely pass before a wife. If he is the one who handled the finances, an already heart-wrenching transition becomes even more burdensome. I hope to make a difference in this field by creating a space and an experience that is inviting to women. But, those of us in the industry need your help.
If it’s going to take the industry and female clients to fix this problem, what should women specifically do? I believe they should trust their intuition. When you find the right financial adviser, they will help you address your insecurities and will journey with you to a place of peace surrounding your finances. It may not be a quick journey, and just like any relationship, you may not find the right partner on the first shot. If you meet with an adviser and it doesn’t feel right—it’s not you! You wouldn’t choose someone to babysit your child if it didn’t feel right. Similarly, the financial adviser you choose will be there to help steward your family’s well-being, so don’t settle. Keep looking until you find one that makes you feel comfortable, whose financial planning process speaks to you, and who you can sense truly cares about what’s important to you.
Corny though it may sound, we can fix this problem together. Those of us in the industry can’t do it on our own if women aren’t willing to give us another try. Similarly, female clients can’t be expected to engage if the industry isn’t a welcoming environment. So, let’s tackle this together—for the betterment of ourselves, and for the generations of women to come.