By Caroline Galbraith, CFP, Financial Advisor with HawsGoodwin Financial
March 31, 2016
In 2015, Fidelity Investments produced a study that stated that 47% of women are uncomfortable discussing money in a professional investment setting. That is a significant statistic when you consider that 90% of women at some point are going to be solely responsible for their financial future.
On a more positive note, 92% of women expressed a sincere desire to understand more about investment dynamics and strategy, and 74% are proactively saving for retirement in some capacity. At the same time, 60% of the women participating in the study expressed concern that they would not have enough money to carry them through their retirement years.
Looking at these collective stats, you might think you were looking back to 1950 when the roles of men and women were more rigid and driven in large part by stereotypes. Yet here we are in 2016 and statistically, a large percentage of women remain uncertain when it comes to engaging in their financial future.
If you are one of the 92% of women eager to establish more financial independence, here are some thoughts and tips on how you can make that happen.
Researching an Advisor
Start with research. Like any unfamiliar activity, gaining a better understanding of the landscape will make you feel more comfortable and confident. Look for financial advisory firms that value diversity in their workplace. This does not mean that you necessarily have to work with only female advisors, but a firm that makes the effort to diversify its professional structure will more than likely feel less intimidating for women who are new to the investment industry.
Planning Your Investment Strategy with an Advisor
Whether you are a single woman just out of college, a working mother, or an empty nester, you have a responsibility to assert control over your financial situation for both the short- and long-term. Once you have undertaken your research and selected an advisor, it’s time to make a plan. That means identifying your financial needs and objectives, assessing your current assets and investments, and mapping out financial milestones. This process will help you evaluate risk, produce timelines for items such as retirement or paying off your mortgage, and prepare for a child’s education, among many other things.
Also, note that your plan should be an organic document, meaning you need to re-visit it each year with your advisor to make sure you are on track to make necessary adjustments based on your life circumstances.
Ask Questions and Clarify
In addition to your plan, make note of all questions that you have. If you are brand new to this, seek out someone you know and trust to help you pull together specific questions that ensure your needs are being addressed. And most importantly, if you are unclear about any topics that arise, make sure you get the clarification that you need. A good advisor should understand that educating you on investment strategy is an essential component for a trusting and sustained relationship.
Finally, be confident. You don’t have to be an expert in the financial services industry to recognize the need to save for your future; the same way you don’t need an M.D. to know that maintaining your health is important. Good advisors are in place to help you along the way. Put them to work for you and insist on responsiveness and accountability in all of your communications.
The statistics mentioned earlier in the column are somewhat disconcerting. Women should respond to the Fidelity study by proactively engaging in their financial well being. Otherwise our financial role will remain relegated to a 20th century stereotype.