At UMB, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the role that women play in the world, particularly as it pertains to wealth. According to The Wall Street Journal‡, women are going to control more than 60% of the wealth in the United States by 2022. And by 2028, it’s estimated that women will control 75% of the discretionary spending worldwide. Still, women across generations, from millennials to baby boomers, tend to let men control the household finances. We want women to feel comfortable taking a more active role in their financial decisions and investment choices.
Women have different interests, concerns and responsibilities, and need to balance all of these considerations to be successful and achieve financial independence. Here are six key financial takeaways that can help women own their financial decisions.
Relationships are key
Get to know your banker or advisor just as you would a friend or co-worker. Your banker should work to gain your trust and get to know what’s important to you, what you value, your goals and your family’s dynamics. Bankers want their clients to trust that they have their individual and family’s best interest at heart with everything they do. Check to see if your banker or adviser is a fiduciary. If they are, that means that they’re legally obligated to act in your best interest and look out for what matters to you.
Don’t be afraid of the “what ifs”
Many women say they they’re nervous to start the planning process because they’re afraid of the “what ifs.” What if I haven’t planned well enough for retirement? What if I haven’t diversified my portfolio enough? It’s important to know that your advisor or banker will help you through these concerns, clarify your financial goals and put an action plan in place for financial independence. The important word here is action: Nothing matters until you act. Your banker or advisor should be asking you the “what ifs” so that you are prepared for anything that may come your way.
Create an open dialogue
Making yourself available helps open a dialogue about financial planning. In addition to forming a relationship with your banker or advisor, you should also open the line of communication with your spouse or partner. Ask your partner to discuss the current budget, the inflows and outflows of money, and the titling of the accounts. You should understand who you need to reach out to should there be a life event and the steps you need to take. An advisor can also help you create customized solutions for you based on your individual needs or values.
Most women will be in control of finances at one point
Ninety percent of women are going to be solely responsible for their own, or the family’s, finances at some point. Divorce and death are common reasons. If this happens to you, you want to surround yourself with a good team that can help you with all elements involved with making a new financial plan, figuring out your cash flow and helping with specific investing strategies. On the path to financial independence, it’s OK to ask for help and it’s OK to be uncomfortable and ask the hard questions.
Women invest differently than men
Women tend to invest differently than men. According to research, 79% of women are interested in making socially responsible investments, and they often turn to ESG strategies to do that. ESG stands for environmental, social and governance, and you can think about investing in companies in these three different buckets. This type of investing gives individuals a chance to align their investment portfolio with causes they’re passionate about. Another upside is that research shows that performance does not have to suffer when you make socially responsible investments.
Think about the whole family – both kids and parents
When it comes to estate planning, women often focus on the caregiving aspect of either their kids or their parents and how that fits into their financial plan. This can become a primary planning issue and very important in the way women manage and approach money. Sometimes, it’s difficult to get the older generation to open up about their financial situation, but a banker can help you have those tough conversations about care so that the whole family knows the full story and money wishes ahead of time. Starting the conversation earlier rather than later is a good rule to follow.
Children also typically mirror their parents’ financial habits. Children benefit from parents integrating positive financial experiences sooner rather than later. It’s important to talk to your kids about savings, investing basics and having financial goals.
Having a conversation about your financial goals with a banker or advisor and your partner builds a solid foundation for financial independence. Know your accounts, your beneficiaries and savings goals – and revisit every year to make adjustments. Understand and voice what’s important to you in both investing and estate planning. With a good team and plan in place, you can be ready to take control of your finances.
You need to earn, grow and plan for the life you want, and beyond. Stay in the know with UMB and learn more about how we support Woman and Wealth.
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