Marisa Facciolo is passionate about helping women with finances. So it’s not unusual for people to say to her, “I told my friend to call you. She really needs your help.” But sometimes, they don’t call. Facciolo thinks it’s because they feel like they don’t know enough about finances to even make the first call. “I think they’re intimidated,” says Facciolo, managing director and senior wealth advisor at Truist Wealth.
Women’s wealth will triple by 2030
Some women feel intimidated by finances, and that needs to be addressed because women are gaining financial power. Today, women control a third of the household financial assets in the U.S.1—that’s about $10 trillion. By 2030, women are expected to control much of the $30 trillion in financial assets that baby boomers will possess.2
This is an unprecedented change. And it’s a reason why now, more than ever, women need to be heard during family financial conversations—a topic from which they’ve historically been excluded.
There are myriad reasons for this; among them is an outdated attitude. Margaret Wright, managing director and senior wealth advisor at Truist, notes that historically, men often have built the family’s wealth. As a result, wealth managers have a habit of acknowledging only them. And in the past, “sons would get the assets outright, and the daughters’ money would go into a trust. The perception was that the men could handle the financial responsibility and women could not,” notes Wright. Some of her female clients even told her that previous financial planners hadn’t looked at them, much less talked to them, when meeting with them and their husbands.
It’s telling that 70% of women change advisors within a year after their spouse dies.2
Because they are often left out, it’s no surprise that women might lack confidence about making financial decisions. Recent world events have empowered them, however. “The world has changed a lot,” says Wright. “There’s been a shift in how people view all sorts of stereotypes.” That shift includes how women are feeling about managing their finances.
Four ways to get more comfortable with finances
That trend is encouraging, but many women are still behind in financial planning and confidence. Facciolo says that they may not know where to even begin. “When we don’t understand something, we avoid it,” she says. To get past this challenge, both Facciolo and Wright off er solutions for women to get more involved in financial planning.
1. Set goals for your future.
Men and women tend to invest differently. Men often want to get to a certain dollar figure, whereas women are often motivated by a goal, such as effecting change. “Women are very much big picture,” says Wright. “They think about goals and wants. They’ll say, ‘I just want my kids to be happy.’ Men are more about the bottom line.”
One way to get more excited about your financial future is to get a clearer picture of your core values.
Below is a list of some potential core values. Which five stand out to you?
Do your choices differ from your partner’s? Does your family know these values are important to you? How do you want to communicate those values to future generations? What is your purpose?
“You can be the richest person in the world, but if you don’t have a reason to get up in the morning, it’s irrelevant,” says Wright.
2. Find a financial advisor who makes you feel safe.
“I think some clients feel like they can’t ask questions,” Wright says. “They feel like they aren’t smart enough.” She assures her clients they’re in a safe space, and that there are no dumb questions.
In Atlanta, Wright has created a safe space for female clients to connect with one another. Her Women and Wealth series, which meets both in person and online, helps them form their own community.
Although they live a life of wonderful privileges, “women in wealth can struggle,” says Wright. She notes that women of means often don’t want to talk about it with their friends. And sometimes their family members are in a different financial situation. “You find yourself isolated, and it’s not expected to bring up these topics socially,” she adds.
When her group meets, Wright sees 70-year-old clients giving advice to the 20-year-olds on topics like how to handle family resentments and how to give generously to friends without making it awkward. “Sometimes the best advice doesn’t come from us, but from our other clients,” she says. “Truist supports them by having this network for them to lean on.”
Facciolo wants the women she works with to know she’s a partner they can trust. She spends a lot of time building relationships, showing she’s someone to be counted on.
“What’s different about Truist is how we emphasize the importance of planning along with developing the relationship,” she says. She added that while men tend to want to see the data and performance, “I see women prioritizing the trust with their financial advisor. She knows Truist is going to have her back. We’ve got it. We’ll manage it,” says Facciolo.
3. Know your finances before you have to.
Women may look at goals differently, but don’t be taken in by the stereotype that women just aren’t interested in the details of financial planning. That alleged lack of interest is “the biggest misconception,” says Wright. “Women do want to know and be prepared, because they’re seeing what happens when they aren’t.
Not long ago, Facciolo heard that familiar statement: “I have a friend who needs your help, and she’s going to call you.”
But this time, the woman did call. Her husband had died suddenly, and without a will. “There was no one she could rely on for guidance,” says Facciolo, “and she didn’t understand anything that was going on.”
Says Wright: “Studies show that women are outliving men, and women will need to be responsible for [their money] at some juncture. If we’re not homing in on that, we’re doing women a disservice.”
4. Talk to your partner.
The time to get a handle on your finances is now, and not when there’s no choice—and you’re coping with loss.
Have an open dialog with your husband or partner about your financial future. Do you both want the same things? What is your hierarchy of needs, wants, and wishes? Are there preparations in place for when one of you is gone? And have you sat with your financial advisor together? “I constantly push my male clients who have not introduced me to their wives,” says Wright. “I make it clear this is not a one-spouse relationship.” That said, she wants her female clients to feel confident enough to meet with her one-on-one from time to time.
Gaining confidence, understanding–and financial power
Women are coming into more money, and they’re likely to have sole responsibility for that wealth at some point. They need to empower themselves to feel confident making financial decisions—and find a financial advisor who understands them.