Since we’re getting all personal here, I want to start by revealing a huge pet peeve of mine. Let me set the stage with a few examples:
While studying for a finance exam recently, the instructor in my course said, “Women have unique challenges when it comes to saving for retirement. However, one positive thing to note is that they take advice from financial advisors better than men!”
While driving in the car, a commercial came on for a bank. “Women are more risk averse than men. Their investments generally are too conservative to earn the rate of investment return they need to save for retirement.”
While listening to a podcast, I came across this gem: “If you are an advisor that works with women, keep in mind that they want you to treat them differently than you might treat a man. Speak to them instead of their husbands. Explain it in a way they understand. Don’t use too much jargon. Look them in the eye, focus on behaviors, and show empathy.”
An article recently came across my desk from a finance writer titled, “What Women Want.” Enough already! I immediately put it in the trash.
UMMMMMMM. HELLLOOOOOOOOOO. Am I losing my mind??!?!!? When is the last time we heard commercials, read articles, or listened to instructors talk about men like this? If men get to be individuals, with individual goals, needs and behaviors, why can’t women be unique individuals too? Dang. And who is writing this crazy offensive content?! Boo hiss!!!
My managing partner asked me not too long ago if I’d be interested in writing an article to send out to clients. I thought, “Maybe I should speak to our women clients?” However, when I sat down to write it I started to get frustrated. I kept thinking about all of these experiences I’ve shared with you here and finally just wrote one sentence: “Women are individuals who each desire unique things from their financial advisor/investment manager based on their own situation, goals and feelings.” I couldn’t get past this sentence so I gave up.
So, here is my PSA: If you are working with an advisor, find one that helps you because you. are. you. Not because you are a woman and he/she thinks she already knows what you want. Not because you “take direction well” or need to be coddled. Ask them questions about the ways in which they are compensated (I will share some guidance on this in a later post). Figure out if they know how to incorporate your personal needs into a plan of action rather than just telling you what they think you should do (AKA, a canned plan) without getting to know you. Find someone who respects you, regardless of your sex or whether you are the primary breadwinner in your household or not. Women have been running the show for quite some time now. (Actually, I heard recently that women control finances in 51% of households now so HELL YEA TO THAT!) It’s just that now women are starting to stand up and admit they run the show instead of allowing others to feel like they are all-powerful and the women can just “leave the money management to the men.”
To that point, I have one more story I’d like to share. While at a finance conference, I sat down for the keynote session at a table near the front (Yes, I am one of those people who always sits in the front. It’s a survival habit from my elementary school days before I admitted I needed glasses). The man sitting next to me turned to me and said, “Oh hi! You must be one of the TD girls!” Uhmmm, excuse me? “No sir, I am an advisor, like you.” Cue the mortified silence from him. And I have to say, I am glad he was mortified. At least he showed some remorse for A) calling me a girl when I’m clearly a grown woman and B) assuming I must work for the bank as a conference hospitality rep instead of possibly being a financial advisor like him. Maybe that embarrassment is progress? Since I am trying this new thing where I assume positive intent from everyone I encounter, I have chosen to take the potential complement – he thought I looked young enough to be considered a “girl”. However, this sheds a light on a major problem in the world of finance that still exists to this day – the fact that the majority of people think “it’s a man’s world and we are all living in it”.
Well, I hate to break it to you world, but this woman (and many advisors like me) won’t let that stand for too much longer. And, let it be known, I treat all of my clients with respect and as individuals, whether they are man, woman, in the green, in the red, rich, older, younger or brand spanking new to starting this whole “saving” thing.
Don’t let anyone tell you what you (should) want or how you behave.