Helping Women Navigate their Financial Planning Journeys
To help independent women create solid financial plans, we need to not only understand their personal goals and financial situations, but we also must take into account the unique life circumstances women face. Discover tips financial professionals can do to help women develop strong financial plans.
Helping Women Navigate their Financial Planning Journeys By Delynn Dolan Alexander
The steps outlined in this article will help you develop strong financial plans for your female clients.
As financial professionals, we equip our clients with the knowledge and tools they need to achieve their goals. However, when providing financial guidance, it’s important to remember that how they interpret and respond to our advice will vary greatly between female and male clients, as well as between married and single women.
To help independent women create solid financial plans, we need to not only understand their personal goals and financial situations, but we also must take into account the unique life circumstances women face.
These include factors such as longevity, the wage gap, caregiving responsibilities, maternity leave (if applicable) and how women define financial success. A recent survey by Northwestern Mutual found six in ten single women say peace of mind from financial obligations is their top priority, compared with single men, who are more focused on professional success as an attribute of the American Dream.
So what can financial professionals do to help women develop strong financial plans?
Address Financial Anxiety
Northwestern Mutual research found that 91 percent of single women say they feel some level of financial anxiety in their lives, and 72 percent say their anxiety has a negative impact on their health or physical well-being.
We have the opportunity to help women identify the source of financial anxiety in their lives and build a plan to address it. Don’t just ask the money questions. Truly get to know your female clients. Learn about their goals and dreams so that you can help them build a plan to achieve them.
Look at the Whole Picture
True financial security includes both protecting your income and growing your wealth. A strong financial plan balances these priorities with a combination of risk products like life, disability and long-term-care insurance, saving for retirement and investment strategies.
A personalized financial plan will be as unique as each woman’s situation and goals. Does she want to (or already have) a family? Does she plan to buy a home? At what age does she want to retire? Does she want to spend her retirement traveling? With these insights, you can then showcase how various scenarios can help her achieve her goals.
Instill a "Saving" Mindset
There are several factors such as longer life expectancies, the gender pay gap and family leave that can place women at a higher disadvantage than men when it comes to saving for retirement. The result? Women usually end up with less in savings to get them through their retirement years.
For this reason, it’s essential to encourage female clients to start saving as early and as much as they can, and to actively commend women for the initial steps they have taken towards saving — usually in a company matched 401(k) or savings account.
Young women especially may feel overwhelmed by the thought of paying down debt from student loans or credit cards while also trying to save money for the future. This is when having a written, long-term financial plan is invaluable to helping women visualize what they’re striving to accomplish. As their financial situations change, let your clients know to regularly check in to discuss how they can save more and build their wealth.
Although women may have different financial challenges from men, financial professionals have the ability to help female clients turn obstacles into opportunities. By understanding the unique situations women face, we can give them the best guidance to accomplish their goals and realize successful financial futures.
Delynn Dolan Alexander began her Northwestern Mutual career as an intern. In 1996, she was appointed managing director in Chapel Hill, where she ran a top office and recruited her business partner Reena Patel Bland. She recently became the first woman in Northwestern Mutual to achieve the "$1 million/$1 million" distinction for insurance and investment sales. Contact her at 919-401-0321 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared in Advisor Today.