Every Woman Deserves to Be Heard
Angie is 37 years old, a self-employed graphics designer who had just married her long-time partner. She went independent with her own firm a decade ago and consistently brings in a 6-figure income. Angie’s Dad passed away last year and she has invited her Mom to move in with the new couple. She sold her prior home and her Mom’s house in order for the three of them to buy a much larger home together. After paying cash for the new home, she still netted $83,000, which she and her wife sought professional advice to invest the proceeds. Unable to find a smaller firm that felt welcoming to the LGBTQ couple, they turned to a much larger firm. Angie was surprised to find herself assigned to a junior advisor, despite having the income and net worth to receive a premier level of service. The young man asked a few questions about her feelings on risk, breezed through fees and then jumped right into a technical-laden recommendation for the $83,000 that she felt was fairly boiler-plate. Despite her reservations, she followed his advice and promptly found her account down 7.3% despite the strong bull market. Despite the poor performance, they have not heard from the advisor since this single meeting. Angie was not happy, but with the wedding and household adjustments, she has not had time to look for another alternative.
Angie had been referred to me for her graphic design capabilities. We met at a hip restaurant in the SoBro section of Nashville, a great spot for introductions among Millennial professionals. Among many cups of coffee mixed with pure cane simple syrup, we talked about my firm and the message that I wanted to convey. While she knew that Evozen was focused on the female client/female advisory experience, she also saw that we wanted to ensure that LGBTQ, minority clients and next generation clients like her were were also represented. As we worked through the salient points, she suddenly asked me how I would have handled her financial query. Over the next hour, we did not talk about investments. Instead, we talked about her priorities, goals, fears and, most of all, her dreams for the future.
She grew quiet. I noticed her silence and gently asked about it. She said,
"For the first time I feel heard. I feel valued.”
Even though I have seen the research, her answer continues to remind me of why our work is so needed. Angie’s experience is not the first time I have heard these words. Over the 30+ years that I have been in financial services, I have seen time-and-time again that women have to fight to be heard, especially when it comes to money.
The statistics are impressive for the gains women have made economically:
U.S. Census Bureau reported in Jul 2018 that one in four heterosexual couples have a non-traditional marriage where the wife makes more than her husband. That's up from just 7% in 1970. (1)
In 2015—the year for which the most recent data is available—42% of mothers were sole or primary breadwinners, bringing in at least half of family earnings. (2)
Nearly another one-quarter of mothers—22.4%—were co-breadwinners, bringing home from 25 percent to 49 percent of earnings for their families. (2)
Women make 70% of major financial decisions for themselves and their families, everything from auto, home, and investments. (3)
In the U.S. alone, women control $14 trillion in assets or roughly 60% of personal wealth, which is expected to climb to $22 trillion in 2020. Globally, women control $36 trillion in total wealth. (3)
As of 2015, women collectively represent the second largest economy in the world based on earned income vs GDP.
Money has so many more nuances for women than men. Despite these stellar gains, society has not exactly embraced women holding the power that has traditionally come with increased income. Farnoosh Torabi, a financial expert and the author of “When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women”, describes that breadwinning women are twice as likely to make the financial decisions in the household, but face a higher occurrence of divorce than women in more traditional roles. Even the US Census is not immune; when women were the primary breadwinners, they under-inflated their income by 1.5% and their husbands inflated their salary by 2.9%. Social conversations can quickly become awkward when couples embrace non-traditional roles such as a stay-at-home father. (4)
Now, consider that the average financial planner is an aging, Caucasian, heterosexual male and their ideal client mirrors them well. The financial community typically embraces planners working for their entire lives, meaning that many senior planners are easily in their 60’s, 70’s and even 80’s; men who grew up in a very different time and age for gender roles and expectations. Over time, these men have ably performed their profession, but many have failed to evolve to the new landscape. As a result, the entire industry has suffered as their target market continues to shrink. My own research shows that too many men are chasing just 15.84% of the high net worth (HNW) marketplace. At an average male life expectancy of 81.2 years, both planner and client will disappear in less than 28 years. Yet, female financial advisors have struggled mightily to break through the 15.7% representation in the field - a number that has been resilient for almost a decade. Part of this struggle is being routinely assigned support roles and customer service duties, rather than the more lucrative and valuable rainmaking role.
So … what does this mean for many women today?
Angie ends up with an experience that is considered acceptable, but leaves her sorely lacking. Because her current advisor did not fully engage with her, she is in an investment portfolio that she does not fully understand, is uncertain how she is paying for it and may even be ill-suited for her risk tolerance. Most egregiously, the advisor did not go far enough to understand her overall picture. Angie knows instinctively that she has not even begun addressing several major life events coming in her life, especially those that involve her mother’s health and longevity, that can financially disrupt her long term goals. But, she also had not - until our meeting - known that a better experience existed.
Evozen understands that the first ingredient to an enduring relationship is to be heard. Let’s start a conversation.
If you would like to learn more about the work we do, please visit us at www.evozen.com. (1) https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2018/07/wives-earning-more-than-husbands.html