Women’s movements have made their way back into media discussions within the last few years due to politics, the gender wage gap and now the #metoo movements that were born out of Hollywood scandals. Another movement that has been occurring, yet receiving less public attention, is that of the financial planning world and the shift in services for women. From the outside, skepticism regarding the need for a differentiation in service based on gender still exists. As an insider with years of experience working with clients I can attest the shift is needed and long overdue. Anyone, male or female, that enters the office of a financial planner that has been proactive about the need for change, will benefit tremendously from the services they receive.
Our society has made great strides towards gender equality yet most women still face life events that create a lag and a need for better understanding of their specific financial issues. Women are earning more money and inheriting more wealth than ever before. In fact, more than half of the personal wealth in the US is controlled by women and this will continue to increase over time. With great power and control comes great responsibility, yet our education systems are still lacking basic financial education. Women hold more degrees than ever before but the pre-requisites for degrees rarely include personal finance. The adult women of today were often left out of the household financial decisions and many modern families shy away from healthy money discussions. So, the equation does not balance out, more control plus a lack of financial education does not equal a high probability of financial confidence.
Women face other factors that greatly affect their financial well-being. As you may know women still have longer life expectancies than men which means their money has to last. They often report less money to social security due to several factors: time away from work for motherhood, caring for an ill child, caring for aging parents and the infamous wage gap. This means that females may control more but they still need to rely on income created by their spouses for social benefits. As mentioned before, women are receiving more and more degrees but those degrees often come with hefty student loan debt attached. In fact, single mothers are the target demographic of for-profit schools, which happen to have some of the highest price tags for attendance.
Female baby boomers are staring these issues in the face. They are watching their mothers experience widowhood, aging, moving into senior living, hospice, and they are handling their estates once they pass. They are helping their children pay for school and navigate student loans, wading through documents for things their mothers were sold, and tirelessly working on estates that had no trusts or incorrect titling of assets.
How did this happen? Financial matters for the silent generation were mostly run by the man of the house, delivered by male professionals and focused on stock trading instead of well-rounded planning. Now female baby-boomers are dealing with the consequences that come with a generation that never had the chance to experience financial planning services. This is to no fault of the past generations because until the 1980s-2000s it didn’t exist. This timing depends on who you talk to and their definition of real financial planning. The reality is that comprehensive financial planning is still a young and fresh concept, especially planning services that focus on women.
As women control more they realize they want to leave hassle free estates to their children, they want to ensure their money lasts, and they want to know that they can maintain the lifestyles that they have now. The women of today do not want to leave this to chance, they want confidence and clear understanding of what they have, how to efficiently utilize the assets they have accumulated, and all with no strings attached.
This has developed a shift in how financial planning is delivered. What once was stock trading, evolved into product sales, and has now evolved into professional financial planning services. Planning that starts with purpose before ever talking about numbers, planning that involves legacy discussions and family. Women have emphasized a need for family involvement in financial discussions, because they often pinpoint family as their purpose for all that they do.
The look of planning has experienced change as well. Offices of the past resembled Wall Street, with ticker symbols scrolling across a kiosk, and bigger was better. Now, it’s about comfort and family feel. Women desire an even playing field, a place where questions can be asked without judgement or else they go unasked. My personal favorite change has been the demand for better service which revolves around proactive communication that focuses on all areas of life, not just the stock market. Planners that work with women have to realize that when she stares at a gorgeous sunset she reflects on her family and her life, not the return she received in her retirement account this year. This means that the discussion needs to go so much deeper than any investment that the market can offer.
The presence of women has greatly improved the industry, and it will continue to do so. We will continue to see an evolution in the financial profession as long as women have specific planning needs, as long as they prefer service over sales, and as long as they continue to control wealth. Every single person that seeks out financial planning benefits from this movement, so it’s a win-win for everyone.
Actions you can take to to keep the movement going:
Ask as many questions as you have, it gets the financial conversation going
Educate the next generation of women about money
Be proactive with your own planning
It takes a village, so encourage your friends and loved ones to be proactive as well
Continue to give professionals feedback because change cannot happen without it
Seek out a female focused financial planning firm that can help you navigate through your concerns and options. Preferably a fee-only firm with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional that works in a fiduciary role.
If money concerns are keeping you from living a confident and fulfilled life, please do not hesitate to reach out. CLICK HERE TO CONTACT WEALTH OF CONFIDENCE.
About WOC and Breanna Reish
Breanna Reish, CFP® is the Founder of Wealth of Confidence, a fee-only women focused wealth firm in Riverside, CA. After working with clients for 9 years she decided to build a firm in order to create an inviting environment where women are encouraged to discuss their money without judgment, to learn about their investments in a way they enjoy, and to become more comfortable managing their money with confidence.
Wealth of Confidence, LLC is a Registered Investment Advisor with the state of California.