Did you know that women now control over 50% of the private wealth and investable assets in this country? As women business owners and entrepreneurs, I hope your achievements can be included in this figure or that you are well on your way and enjoying the journey that accumulating wealth and achieving financial freedom and business success brings to you and your family.
Thrilling, but not surprising to learn how we arrived at this in shift women’s wealth. According to a Boston Consulting Group research survey, three long-term trends have fueled the growth of women-controlled wealth:
- Women are increasingly beating the odds by not only shattering that glass ceiling, but we’re on course for obliterating limitations by taking advantage of access to professional development and educational opportunities. This segment of wealth was entirely self-earned by woman commanding higher salaries and bonuses.
- Second, as a result of higher-learning and C-suite responsibilities in the workplace, women have gained both the confidence and experience to take the leadership role in the family finances, and have come to play an increasingly important role in managing their family’s money.
- Third, more women are inheriting wealth. Women are more likely to assume control over lump sums of wealth as an inheritance – from first their parents then their spouse, often as a result of women’s increased longevity.
Yet, despite our growing success in the skillful development and growth of our businesses managing our company’s balance sheet and P&L’s, we are reluctant to parlay our leadership attribute and actually take charge of our own personal finance. This behavior is due, in part, to what is critically perceived as being underserved in the financial services industry. That BCG survey revealed, “Women told us, in no uncertain terms, that they want a level playing field – they want the same attention, advice, and terms and deals that affluent men get – with advisors providing clear and objective recommendations based on their goals and values – now and in retirement.” Other data suggests that women absorb financial information differently from men. We value being educated on financial terms and concepts, and we require full transparency and patience when selecting appropriate products and services.
And that could be why – in a separate survey and report (February 2012) by State Farm Center for Women & Financial Services entitled Financial Goals, Concerns and Actions of Women Business Owners 61 percent of women business owners were found to prefer working with a female financial planner. But what women are up against here is that about 70 percent of financial advisors are men, who have built their careers on serving mostly male clients, who are accustomed to talking to men the way men absorb information about financial topics and stock market performance.
While there are a number of extraordinary male financial professionals, some of the best financial planners are women. Many female advisors have a gender-specific ability to think from the middle of their brains. We draw from the linear, logical left-brain thinking for financial analysis and strategy, as well as the right brain which emphasizes the equally important goals, values and feelings that need to be integrated into an effective financial plan. A well-qualified female advisor can work with women’s unique financial circumstances, as well as their learning and communication style. But don’t expect to be coddled – if you are working with a financial planner who is also a registered investment advisor representative, she is licensed as a fiduciary and is required by law to provide the bad news as well as the good. And make sure that she is not just a “salesperson” focused on moving you toward making a transaction for the benefit of a commissioned sale. Aspire to have an ongoing relationship with your advisor with whom you can engage as a “go-to” resource when making important financial decisions (e.g. buying investment property, should I lease or buy a car, adopting a child). Picture the advisor you interview as an advocate for your enduring financial well-being, whom you feel you can trust, and will be available to meet with on an agreed-to basis for reviews. The advisor should be skilled in the area of collaborating effectively with your other advisors (accountant/CPA and attorney) with you or on your behalf. (Report on What You Need to Know Hiring About a Financial Advisor and How Financial Advisors Are Paid available on www.WomensWealthAndWisdom.com )
Women need to recognize how vital financial planning is to protecting, preserving and growing their money. Start by studying about financial terms and concepts on your own learning through whatever methods suit you: books, the internet (www.investopeia.com provides great technical info), seminars or your accountant. And then don’t stop; tax laws, economic conditions and financial products change and evolve so continuing education is key. Then define what’s important about money to you – including you and your family’s goals and objectives – how will you know what to plan for if you don’t identify your projected lifestyle? Be prepared and commit to what will initially be a time consuming and focused learning curve. And then be prepared to be empowered and take charge of you and your family’s financial well-being.
Guest Writer-Victoria Wilk
Victoria Wilk, CWS® is a Certified Wealth Strategist, Registered Investor Advisor Representative and founder of Women’s Wealth and Wisdom (www.WomensWealthAndWisdom.com) Her practice focuses on the unique planning requirements of women. She is active in her community as an adult school educator, workshop leader and contributor to the media on the importance of and advocacy for women and personal financial planning literacy.