Reflections of Women & Wealth Conference: Part 2

Reflections on Women & Wealth:  Women Investors (Part 2)


Women are smart, capable and prudent investors.  It is imperative that they participate and feel they have ownership of their finances and not abdicate responsibility.  Husbands, if you love your wives, make sure they have an active seat at the table for all financial planning.  Take the time and make it a safe place for them to ask questions and get answers.  Women are natural planners and their input and questions will likely make the entire plan better and what is the downside of that?  The same thing goes for fathers who love their daughters.  Encourage them to stick with it – maybe start a very small account for them to invest.  Preparing your loved ones now will make a sudden life event more manageable.  There are great resources out there like Kahn Academy and The Motley Fool has some of the best non-tech-speak documents around.

Studies have considered the barriers to women investing:

Jargon:  Making jargon less technical helps everyone, including young people, get up to speed.  In my own experience, teaching thru metaphors is great – what is this like that they know.  Jargon has always been a challenge when I study financial exam materials.  I am not sure the terms could be more difficult to connect to-Greek, really?

Various Options:  Understanding the differences in all the ways to make your money work for you is hard for anyone and many people “fake it” to avoid embarrassment.  Education is a necessary evil but doing so without the JARGON.  When it all comes down to it, investing can make a difference not only for sustaining a future lifestyle but also the way you invest can positively impact the world when done according to your values.  You may have to learn and re-learn concepts, but that’s ok.

Don’t feel understood.  Active listening by advisors who set aside assumptions is fundamental.  During a presentation about advising someone in transition a useful strategy was introduced, that is:  As a leader/facilitator, ask someone you’re working with how it will look when they check out of a conversation and follow that with a request for permission to check in with them if it happens.  What a terrific way to show the value your place on someone’s active presence.  This comes in handy as you educate on the VARIOUS OPTIONS with less JARGON.

A note to all with wisdom from the speakers:

  1. A husband is not a financial plan. It may seem like this for a season, but at some point, you’re going to have to pay attention.  Pay attention before you’re in a crisis.
  2. Write a love letter to your family telling them how you feel and giving them information about all your finances to make that final transition easier. I had no idea you could bequeath your frequent flier miles.
  3. We need to experience change and not expedite change.
  4. Don’t look at your life as balancing personal and work. Look at it as a problem of integrating your life and living one life.
  5. Remember “Your own oxygen mask first.”

Reflections on Women & Wealth:  Women in Finance Professions

At the Women & Wealth conference, we considered the question of why there aren’t more women advisors or women in finance-related careers.  Young girls start out excelling in math and science in elementary school.  A fantastic explanation was offered and it was:  we haven’t adequately framed these careers as being helping careers that make use of relationship skills.  You can help people achieve their dreams and build many trusting relationships thru careers such as these.

It was intriguing to hear about the funds being created with the Gender Lens (The Rise of Gender Capitalism, By Sarah Kaplan & Jackie VanderBrug). Investment vehicles created with a gender lens do not sacrifice return but invest in such a way to further the gains in diversity in business and get capital to those firms with better diversity at the leadership level.  Did you know that 50% of the small businesses created in the US are created by women, and they only have access to 20% of the available capital?  We learned of a firm called Golden Seeds that does early-stage investment focused on women leaders.

Why do young girls and young women lose their voices around the junior high age?  A speaker relayed an experiment that was done with a mixed-gender group.  During the question and answer period, not a single female raised their hands.  We have come a long way, but we still have a distance to travel with changing the sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle, messages that are communicated to women.  Are we expecting them to succeed and advance?  Are they mentored as much as men? It has gone beyond women changing to fit in and keeping things status quo. See Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant’s article here Speaking while Female.

Life skill education at an early age is urgently needed.  An organization in New York, The Financial Women’s Association, uses a “Financial Backpack” as a metaphor lesson in investing with girls in senior high that has been successful.

There were speakers who were first-generation immigrants to the US.  They noted a difference in the ability to take the long-view between young people in the US and that of other cultures which impact the level of investing.  Also, the women in those cultures are more likely to invest and discuss money because it is not taboo.

“If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.”–African Proverb.

This quote is displayed before the credits of “The Good Lie” which was showing on my return flight home.  There is a challenge in this discussion of women and wealth that goes out to all.  If we are going to go far, we need to go together.  Don’t give up young people, lean in.  Everyone can make room at the table for additional perspectives.  We will all be the better for it and go further together.  Be courageous and be prepared.

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