There Is A Case For Doing It Differently

I have just returned from four days of learning, two of which were spent at the ‘Invest in Women’ conference held in Dallas.  It was an inspiring, thought provoking and incredibly dynamic few days.  I was surrounded by 400 other people (mostly, but not all women) whom were there to learn how to better serve their female clients.  It absolutely one hundred percent affirmed for me that, when it comes to women, there is a case for doing it differently.  And here are five really good reasons why.

For women, there is always something else going on.

For us it is not just about solving the problem, it is about connecting emotionally.  There was one story told where an advisor sat with a couple.  The woman was very stressed.  Her job was tough, family life was demanding.  The advisor looked through their finances and asked her the question ‘do you really need to work?  There is enough money coming in here’.  Where was the empathy?  The counselling?  Perhaps I would have looked through the finances and suggested there was room for some extra help around the house.  Or focused on career objectives and values, and whether those were being met.  It is not all just about the numbers.  There is always something else going on.

It's not all just about the numbers.

Women feel guilt.

For women, despite knowing it’s importance, financial planning falls low on the priority list.  And this is simply due to a lack of time.  We are juggling a career with running a home, some days we barely breath, let alone have a chance to sit down and focus on our long-term financial health.  It stresses us out and we feel guilty – guilty that we have let our financial life be ignored and disorganised.  I have women sit with me all the time and apologise.  Apologise because they don’t know what is in their pension pot, apologise because they don’t know what last year’s bonus was, apologise because they have no idea how much cash is in their bank account.  The apologies need to stop!

Guilt is never a healthy emotion

They come from guilt and guilt is never a healthy emotion.  If you are sitting with me then you have already made the decision to take care of yourself financially and to stand on your own two feet.  A huge burden will be lifted off you as you go through life-changing events, of which there are many.  Whilst we all want to believe that things like divorce will not happen to us, we only have to look around us to see that it does happen to people just like us.

Women often feel that looking after others is more important than looking after themselves.

We are the caregivers and we always want to make sure everyone else around us is taken care of.  It could be setting up a trust fund for our kids, or paying a sibling’s mortgage or school fees for a niece/nephew.  All these things are important and need to feature on our ‘goals’ list, but they have to come after we have secured our own financial independence.

It is not selfish; it is just smart

What use is a trust fund for our kids if they will be using it to look after us in old age?  Perhaps we are more inclined to feel that it is selfish to put our need ahead of others.  It is not selfish; it is just smart.

Women don’t see themselves as investors.

Lots of people have brokerage accounts that they use to make their own investments, and I find it is almost always men.  After my seminars, several women told me that they ‘never saw themselves as an investor’.  This has to change.  And it will only change through education.  Women are not going to become successful investors, and therefore financially independent, whilst the old fashioned advisor philosophy of ‘don’t worry, I will look after you’ stands.  Women don’t want to be ‘looked after’, they want to be educated and informed so that they are able to make smart financial decisions themselves.  (And by the way, a smart financial decision almost always involves seeking the help and guidance of a professional.)

We find it easy to believe that our other half has got it covered.

There are not enough words that can help me explain how dangerous this can be.  Have you ever been passed a document by your husband, and signed it blindly?  Have you given up your job to raise a family and now rely entirely on his earnings?  If so, you need to have a conversation now.  And you need to repeat that conversation regularly (set a monthly or quarterly date).  Keeping a running account of your net worth (all your household/family assets minus your debts) will help.  Most women know exactly where all the money goes every month (they tend to be responsible for the school fees, food shopping and all other household expenses) but do you know what comes in every month?  It is no good just continuing, oblivious, because all the expenses seem to keep being met.  I know you are busy and the feeling is, ‘that is just not something I need to worry about’ but if you are living in a household then you are accountable.  And if things fall apart (heaven forbid) then you will be very grateful that you took this advice.