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How Women are Taking Charge of Their Finances

Written by Kelley Keehn

Friday, December 1st, 2017

Did you know it's estimated that at some point in their lives, 90% of women will have total control of their finances? Yet the financial industry (and that of accounting, law, banking and more) still primarily focuses on men.

Women Are a Big Deal

By the end of 2024, it's estimated Canadian women will control approximately $3 trillion, or 46%, of total personal wealth, up from 33% from today.1 But when women do reach out for help, 73% of them report being "unhappy" with the financial services industry.2

Judy Paradi and Paulette Filion from Strategy Marketing have been studying women investors for more than 20 years each, and are frustrated with the financial industry's lack of understanding when it comes to women's specific concerns. They recently published a white paper entitled Financial Advisors Are Failing Women.

What Do Women Want?

It's a well-known fact among the advisory community, when a woman's spouse dies, 70% of the time, she leaves that advisor.

According to Paradi, women "want to be listened to, want respect, want someone who knows how to speak their language and want someone who will boost their confidence and rise to their high expectations of themselves and the people who want their business."

Empowering and Educating

Edmonton city councillor Bev Esslinger has spearheaded a project in her city called Women and Money, which grew out of a desire to help educate women to take charge of their money though social media, videos, events and activities, addressing a variety of financial topics – everything from holiday spending to mortgages to wills and estate planning.

"Women are often surprised when faced with some financial circumstances about things they just didn't know. For example, when they don't have a credit rating after a divorce because she didn't even have a credit card in her name," says Esslinger.

Things are Changing

Esslinger sees women taking steps to positively affect their financial futures by "trying to take charge of their money and are educating themselves about their options. They don't necessarily see it as men do and want to make choices that fit them."

Shannon Lee Simmons, Certified Financial Planner from the New School of Finance says: "It's your money and you have a right to feel comfortable and heard."

Three Action Steps You Can Take Now

Simmons suggests this three-step process to greater financial empowerment:

1. Be Involved in the Household Finances

"Whether daily banking or how to invest your retirement savings, be involved in the process and implementation. Having your finger on the pulse of what's happening in your financial life will help empower you to continue to take charge of your finances."

2. Ask Questions

"They didn't teach this stuff in school. Ask, if you don't understand something. There are no stupid questions. Fully understanding why you're putting money into one type of account, paying debt or investing in a specific asset mix is imperative for you to feel in control of your money. If you understand why, you can make decisions now and in the future without the worry."

3. Talk About Money with Friends

Make finances a normal part of conversation with other women in your peer group. Ensure it's a safe, non-judgmental group that you trust. This way, you can learn from others, help share your knowledge with someone who may not know and validate strategies you may be using with others who aren't trying to sell you anything and may be in the same financial place as you.

The Financial Planning Standards Council has an interesting series about women and money which offers simple tips that anyone can use to build their financial self-confidence.

1 Source: Household Balance Sheet Report 2015.

2 Source: The Boston Consulting Group, Women Want More (In Financial Services), October 2009


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