“Numbers never lie, after all; they simply tell different stories depending on the math of the...
Women face unique challenges in regards to financial planning that can be overcome if proactively addressed. At Virtus Wealth Management, we help our female clients build confidence, visualize their future, establish financial goals, and take the actions required to pursue those goals.
Financial instability for women can be a gender-wide problem not specific to geography, culture, or even economic background. There are a multitude of reasons that women face significantly stronger headwinds in saving for retirement and preparing for the future than men. Understanding these challenges and addressing them can help alleviate the financial stress that many women face and will allow them to pursue a healthy financial future.
Here are just a few statistics that demonstrate these unique challenges.
- Confidence – According to a 2014-2015 study by Prudential Insurance, Financial Experience & Behaviors Among Women, “only 20% of women surveyed felt prepared to make wise financial decisions.” Women are less likely to study courses leading to finance careers. For example, men study economics at an almost 2:1 ratio compared to women.
- Longevity – In America, about 80% of women outlive their husbands. Women have a longer life expectancy than men, outliving men by five years, on average. The average American woman will experience widowhood by the age of 56. (US Census Bureau, 2020)
- Gender Pay Gap – On average in 2019, women were pad 22.6% less than men, after controlling for race and ethnicity, education, age, and geographic division.1 Five times more women than men live paycheck to paycheck.2 Due to the gender pay gap, women on average stand to lose $900,000 over a 40-year career.3
We refer to this as the Retirement Triple Threat for women. Clearly, there are issues to overcome, but the triple threat can be addressed with a focus on the end in mind. At Virtus Wealth Management, we partner with our clients to develop a personalized financial strategy to give our clients a better sense of security knowing that these issues have been fully addressed.
Here are four actions that we emphasize to help you overcome the retirement triple threat.
1. Harness the Power of Your Behavioral Tendencies
Women and men are different and inherently, they have different strengths and weakness. Awareness of these tendencies can help women advance their financial freedom. Women can be great investors, but all too often, we see women under-estimating their abilities, inhibited by tendencies that hold them back from achieving financial success. We also see consistent characteristics in women, that, when harnessed, can empower and catapult them and their families to financial freedom.
Strengths / Opportunities
- Save More – Women save 9% of their annual salary, compared with men, who save 8.6%.4
- React Less – Women trade shares nearly half (49 per cent) as frequently as men.4
- Goals – Women target long-term financial security, independence, and lifestyle improvements.
- Focus – Women tend to hold investments for longer, riding out the ups and downs.
- Research – Women research investment options and adopt a consultative approach.
- Life – Women live longer, and if invested early enough, compounding has more time to work its magic.
Weaknesses / Threats
- Risk Appetite – Only 37% of women are willing to take a financial risk, versus 58% of men.5
- Investment Approach – Women are more like to invest conservatively.
- Missed Opportunities – Women stick to tried-and-trusted, recognizable names.
- Loyalty – Women tend to hold losing investments too long out of loyalty.
- Fear – Women can lack confidence, experience, and comfort level in investing.
- Indecision – Women can be fearful of making the wrong investment decision and do nothing.
What’s a girl to do? The answer is simple. The first step is for women to be aware of their behavioral tendencies, and the next step is to capitalize on those behavioral strengths to overpower the behavioral weaknesses. Let’s do it!
2. Educate, Educate, Educate
Women’s wealth in the U.S. and around the world is increasing. With that, so is women’s impact on the economy. In fact, women now control a third of U.S. household financial assets — more than $10 trillion.6 And by 2030, a massive wealth transfer is expected: American women are projected to be the recipients of the majority of $30 trillion in financial assets from baby boomers.6
At Virtus Wealth Management we partner with our clients to pursue their financial goals and focus on education along the way. We believe education builds confidence, and from there, intentionally investing with confidence is one of the best ways to build savings and strive toward your financial goals.
First, we work together to develop financial goals by discussing time horizon, investment risk tolerance (the ability to ride out short-term market volatility for potential long-term gains), spending targets, and goals such as retirement, travel, home improvement and college saving.
Next, we work together to develop a financial plan and an investment strategy considering the items above. Throughout this process we continually educate our clients on items like:
- Gaining an understanding of the household’s overall finances.
- Setting a realistic budget.
- Maximizing savings.
- Understanding and managing debt.
- Taking advantage of employer sponsored plans and benefits.
- Exploring the use of spousal IRA’s.
- Establishing your long-term goals (future income needs, time horizon, etc.)
- Understanding future income options.
- Building savings buckets (pre-tax, post-tax, tax free).
- Importance of monitoring progress on a regular basis and updating with life changes along the way.
Finally, we implement the plan and continue to use every opportunity to educate our clients along the way a monitor progress and a regular basis and update with life changes as we go.
3. Prepare to Live Longer
Women live an average of five years longer than men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.7 With more time in retirement, savings will need to last longer to cover living and healthcare expenses. Planning for a longer retirement is key.
This goes back to the Education section above. It’s important to use, maximize and understand the techniques and financial vehicles available to stretch retirement savings in anticipation of a longer life. This is part of why working with an advisor is key.
We use all kinds of strategies to help our client pursue their goals including:
- Income Sources – Social Security, Pensions, Annuities with Guarantees, Permanent Life Insurance
- Tax Efficient – Pre-Tax, Post-Tax, Tax Free
- Investment – Traditional Assets, Alternative Assets, Annuities (Variable, Indexed, Fixed)
- Long-Term Care – Insurance, Annuities, Hybrid Products
4. Adjust for the Pay Gap
Despite advancements, the gender pay gap remains a reality. Women who work full-time earn an average of 81.6 cents to every dollar that full-time, working men earn. (US Census Bureau, 2020) This discrepancy can be costly, but there are things we can do about it.
We encourage our clients to:
- Regularly save a greater percentage of their income than the average man. This is a behavioral strength for women noted above. Capitalize on it.
- Where appropriate, negotiate for a higher salary.
- Partner with a financial advisor early. This can help women develop an investment strategy personalized to their goals and help them reap the benefits of having savings grow more over the long-term.
- Be mindful of financial and/or career progress. Women often juggle multiple responsibilities and are more likely to face career interruptions due to childcare, caring for aging parents or providing other family assistance. The COVID-19 pandemic made this discrepancy even more apparent. Women ages 25-44 were three times more likely than men to not be working during the height of the pandemic due to childcare demands.6Time away from the workforce — pandemic-related or not — can impact financial and career progress. Balancing work, family, and children can be tough, but taking charge and being intentional about career goals can ensure progress and the probability of success.
Women Helping Women
All of our advisors here at Virtus Wealth Management understand the unique challenges women face and have experience in implementing the steps above to help our clients thrive. If you feel intimidated or don’t know where to start, connect with us today. We are proud to have a female advisor on our team and female support staff to help you every step of the way.
Karen Spence has been with our firm since 2006. With her L.E.A.R.N program (“Ladies Economic Awareness Resource Network”) and her Ladies’ Finance & Fun events, Karen has built a community of women who have become educated, empowered, and involved in the planning of their financial futures. As a Wealth Advisor, Karen can help you too grow confident in investing. All it takes to get started is calling our office to schedule your complimentary consultation.
Action Builds Confidence
The unique circumstances women face highlight the importance of building financial confidence throughout a lifetime.
Take action. Start Today … The Earlier the Better! Taking action is the best way to overcome lack of confidence and become more comfortable. So, do some research, get advice, start small, be consistent, and think long-term. Per Stephen Covey, “Begin with the End in mind!”.
1 Economic Policy Institute analyses of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata. March 30, 2020.
2 MetLife poll of over 8,000 U.S. adults over the age of 18.
3 PayScale’s Gender Pay Gap Report, 2020
4 The female investor is more savvy than the male, The Times, 20185
5 Risk appetite and financial decision making, Willis Owen, 2017
6 Baghai, P., Howard, O., Prakash, L. and Zucker, J., 2020. Women as the next wave of growth in US wealth management. [online] McKinsey & Company. Available at: <https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/financial-services/our-insights/women-as-the-next-wave-of-growth-in-us-wealth-management> [Accessed 28 February 2022].
7 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Mortality in the United States, 2018, NCHS Data Brief No. 355. January 2020.