Men and women manage finances differently, but doesn’t everybody? What works for one person doesn’t for another. Why do we constantly associate our preferences or capabilities with gender?
As a female financial advisor, I’ve heard all types of tropes “women are wired this way and men are wired that way” or “men tend to be more open to risky financial decisions, while women prefer a more cautious and secure investment approach.” If I could just develop a one-size-fits-all “financial advice for men” and “financial advice for women”, my job would be a lot easier. These patronizing stereotypes aim to put genders into neat, tidy boxes, but it isn’t that simple.
In my lifetime alone, women have made an astounding amount of progress, but we still have a way to go. This sentiment is true when it comes to managing wealth for women, we still have a way to go. Women, on average, live six to eight years longer than men. 90% of households will, at one point, have a woman at the helm of the family pocketbook. Women, on average, control 80% of the purchase decisions in their household, yet only 9% of women think they can invest as well as men. Why?
Women too often put off their own financial needs to take care of others. The presence of fear and lack of confidence when it comes to prioritizing themselves is all too real. Often, they do not realize until it’s too late that they don’t have enough saved for retirement, medical costs, or long-term care. Time, and time again I watch my female clients lack confidence and participate in self-deprecating ideals of not being a capable investor and thinking that they need a partner or spouse to help guide them through their financial journey. I can’t help but think of the entrenched gender roles that made them feel that way in the first place.
What can we do about it? The more conscious we become of unconscious mapping and related behaviors, the more we can move toward a path of making a change to our thinking.
Steps to Help Move Us in the Right Direction:
Point it out
Magazines, TV, film, and the Internet are full of negative gender stereotypes. Sometimes these stereotypes are hard for people to see unless they’re pointed out. Be that person! Talk with friends and family about stereotypes you see and help others understand how sexism and gender stereotypes can be hurtful.
Be a living example
Be a role model for friends and family. Respect people regardless of their gender identity. Create a safe space for them to express themselves regardless of what society’s gender stereotypes and expectations are.
Change your mindset
Achieving your lofty aspirations is never a walk in the park. Those who push forward get rewarded. Consider making a list of five things you must do today that may be uncomfortable but will get you closer to great wealth.
One of the most fulfilling aspects of being a financial advisor is coaching women to trust that their goals and plans are just as important as their children, spouse, and family. Whether you identify as male, female or gender-neutral tells me remarkably little about the best financial strategy for your life.
If you have questions about investing, we would love to speak with you. Please feel free to reach out and schedule a call.
- Financial Facts for Women’s History Month – Shurwest Financial Group, 2018
- Fidelity's Women and Money Survey; results of this survey are based on an online omnibus conducted among a demographically representative US sample of 2,995 adults comprising 1,496 men and 1,499 women 18 years of age and older. The survey was completed during the period December 1-11, 2016 by ORC International, an independent research firm. The results of this survey may not be representative of all adults meeting the same criteria as those surveyed for this study.