In the #MeToo Era it’s time to say Count $Me Too:
The #Me Too era has changed the world in which we live in many ways except one – financially. Since the movement’s birth in the onset of the horrific allegations against Harvey Weinstein, women have been more vocal than ever about discussing topics like sexual harassment, the glass ceiling, and pay inequity. For all that women are standing up and taking back power in workforce, they are still not taking control of their wallets, building their net worth or planning for their financial security.
Teller Number 1 will see you now
Women represent a unique opportunity for financial companies throughout the country and an incredible niche market for the financial advisor who can engage this client segment. The 2009 book The $14 Trillion Woman by Kay and Di Leonardi highlights the fact that women represent a $14 Trillion opportunity to Wall Street. Women are the driving force for consumer spending in this country and influence 83% of U.S. Consumer Spending according to GenderLeadershipGroup.com video series. Still, after years of having worked in the finances industry, it was alarming to see that it was men virtually every time reaching out and getting help with their financial planning. It was men who were handling the responsibility for the financial decision being made for their family. Many times, the other half of the joint accounts were inexplicably missing in action.
One Half of a whole
I know as a women and mother the demands of work and family can spread us very thin at times. Frequently, we fall in the conventions of letting the men of our lives take care of the money in the same way our fathers and grandfathers did. That, coupled with societal messaging that women are bad at math and too emotional to handle the volatility of the stock market, can lead women to stepping away from the financial table. Yet according to the 2017 National Vital Statistic Report, 8 out of 10 women will at some point in their lives be solely responsible for their finances. Either because we are outliving our partners, divorcing or not marrying at all, women need to be ready to take the wheel and drive the financial picture for themselves and their families. The 2018 UBS Financial Services report, “Own your Worth” found that 59% of clients that were divorced or widowed wished they had been involved in the long-term financial decision making. In addition, 56% of those women discovered some sort of financial surprises after finally becoming involved.
E2 = Education and Empowerment
Many times, when dealing with female clients and prospects, it was surprising that many of them felt that they lacked basic financial education. The “Own Your Worth” report found that 66% of those not engaging in investing believed it to be too complicated. Financial literacy is critical for anyone to feel comfortable with taking the financial reigns. So imperative is this need that the Miami office of the Securities and Exchange Commission began an outreach program for Dade and Broward High School in 2017 designed to teach personal finance to high schoolers.
In the last few years, we have learned that when there is open discussion and education, we can empower ourselves and those around us. The #Me Too moment allowed us to discuss workplace hostility and harassment. It helped educate and reinforce to our communities what is inappropriate conduct towards women and empower women to speak up about what is wrong, and it cast a glaring light on what needs to change. That same spirit of change will hopefully embolden women to discuss finance and money management, seek education, and empower themselves to step on to Wall Street and remember it is not about the size of the wallet but the power of the purse.