Reflections of Women and Wealth Conference: Part 1

The Rise of Women in Business

I had the privilege of attending the first Women & Wealth conference hosted by Financial Research Associates, LLC and the time was wisely spent. Study after study from notable research organizations like Dow Jones, Stanford, McKinsey, Credit Suisse, to name just a few, reveal the immense wealth women around the world have and the emerging positive influence they are having at all levels of the global and US Economy. In fact, women are their own economy when you consider that money controlled by women, worldwide, is greater than the combined GDP of China and India.

The studies also show slow growth in the inclusion of women at all levels of business. This is not just as a gesture, but because it makes good bottom and top-line business sense. One of my favorite new terms is ‘Gender Lens’. It is inclusive, addresses both men and women, but it is a type of view you can take of a business, an investment, or a team. With that lens, you can evaluate the opportunity, address gaps and create more business!

It is a very exciting and interesting time to be working and to be an influencer of the workforce in businesses wanting to reduce risk and grow profitably.

Businesses that have more diversity in all teams including the management and boards have:

  1. Better risk mitigation because different perspectives ask different questions.
  2. Better performance (revenue, customer satisfaction, market share, profits).
  3. Well-diversified teams score better at reading the reactions of others in negotiations and corporate change initiatives.  “Reading the Mind of the Eye”
  4. Individuals who know they are presenting to a diverse audience prepare better and leave fewer unaddressed assumptions.

Businesses that gear their marketing material to include a female “voice” will appeal to get more business. There is more to uncover with that idea in “The Daring Book for Boys in Business : Solving the Problem of Marketing and Branding to Women”.   We are not talking about selling make-up, remember women are buying services and products in every business.

The best two Business tips from this book are:

  1. If you enter a room full of mixed-gender people that you don’t know, start out gender neutral and do not assume there is a male leader.
  2. Do not ‘pink-wash’ everything in an attempt to address diversity.

Women Investors (Part 1)

Over the past 40 years, the number of women who are primary breadwinners has tripled, though many women downplay this reality– often feeling guilty about it.

Women control 11.2 Trillion dollars. Yet most of these women are under-saving and not confident they will have enough money to retire. They will live longer, they may have taken career breaks which negatively impacted their savings (2 year break=$342,000 hit) and by their very nature, they will tend to take care of others instead of themselves. A phrase that stuck with me that is universal for all parents (dad and mom) comes from the airlines. You’ve heard it – “Put your own oxygen mask on first before helping children and others.” If we don’t take care of ourselves, the problem will compound to future generations.

Change is slow when it comes to uncovering biases. And, it’s not just a matter of us uncovering bias, we need to clearly state that we’re all trying to move past bias and not have that impact decision making. See the article by Sheryl Sandberg and Andy Grant on addressing bias here. There is something for everyone to work on.

Thoughts on choosing an advisor:

  1. Advisors are ‘thinking partners’ as well as ‘trusted partners’.   It was noted that women must trust you first and often want to pay a flat consulting fee until all their questions are answered and then may get into a long-term relationship.
  2. Look for an advisor that has a process to guide you and a risk assessment that is more than 1 page and 5 questions.
  3. Advisors provide a time and a place for people to reflect. People are so busy they don’t often practice reflection.  Having a place conducive for reflection would be a good idea and something to look for.
  4. There are two seats at the table of any investment discussion, the investor can be a pilot or a co-pilot, but they cannot be a passenger.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Reflections on Women and Wealth

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