Clearly, the caution signs are there, but the good news is that you can start doing something about it now. If you don’t know much about retirement planning or investing, purchase a beginner’s book, join an investment club, or find a financial advisor that you trust who can teach you more about the topic. It is never too late to start planning and increasing your financial literacy. The statistics concerning women and investing show that we need to do something, and the earlier we start, the better.
This is really important. The investment gap and the pay gap are closely related. A lot of us know about the pay gap—that women make about eighty cents on the dollar compared to men with the same job and experience. And investing amplifies that difference, thanks to what Albert Einstein once called the eighth wonder of the world: compounding. Which means that, over time, the difference between investing a little and investing a little more becomes profound. Basically, if you don’t invest much, and you don’t start early enough, you’ll end up with a lot less when it’s time to retire. Once you stop working, your retirement savings becomes your income. And more income means more choices: the choice to take time off for family, change jobs for something you love but that may not pay as well, leave a bad relationship, travel the world…money equals choices.
Fidelity research among professional women across the country shows there's no shortage of interest in learning more about financial management and investment choices, with over 90 percent saying they want to learn more about financial planning8. For many, this stems from a need to play ‘catch up,' with a majority reporting a lack of opportunity to learn financial skills earlier in life.
MS. SARR: For me, it's funny because the most, the most impactful mentor I ever had was an American gentleman by the name of David from Texas, had he's been my biggest supporter, and he died in a plane crash in Texas two years ago, but he's been following me and even sometimes when I didn't believe in myself he gave me huge responsibilities as a CFO of a multi-million-dollar business. That was way before I joined the World Bank or the UN. But so, mentoring is extremely important. So, my ask tonight is for the men to really be our champions. We want them to be our he for she and say to other men I stand by my sister, I stand by my wife, I stand by my daughter. That's my first ask. My second ask is for the other women, you know, we tend to shy away sometimes from the activism but you just have to realize that you have a mandate. If every woman voted for a woman we will have plenty of women presidents around the world. So, you really, you really have a mandate to represent and to know that you are really, when you're sitting on that board meeting, when you're about to make, click that button that you're doing that on behalf of millions and billions of women around the world. They say that if every woman made a jump today we will have an earthquake. So, that's how powerful we are.
WIN is a forum for full-time MBA women from top business schools around the country and investment professionals from sponsoring firms to gather, network, hear perspectives on investment careers and related topics from industry representatives, learn from distinguished women and men in the industry; and showcase their stock-picking skills in front of judges from sponsoring firms and obtain feedback on their pitches. More than 60 women MBA students from top business schools and 65 representatives from top-tier investment management firms are expected to attend.
So how do women break the investment barrier in ways that can lead to lifelong financial independence? Sabbia has three key suggestions: learn the basics, define your goals, and invest in yourself. For more advanced investors, Sabbia suggests being a mentor that can help break the silence around talking about money. Doing so could accelerate the close of that wealth gap for all women. Let's examine each recommendation in closer detail.
Today, gender equality is in the spotlight like never before. The #MeToo movement has encouraged countless women to share their stories about being harassed at work—myself included. Powerful men have lost their power, while powerful women (hi, Oprah) are putting their platforms and their money into stopping workplace harassment and abuse. It’s been incredible. And it’s just the beginning.
Top GWI Takeaway: “An important thing to realize is that there are certain types of financial firms and investment strategies focused on doing some sort of social good. We’ve been learning about ESG investing, which is Environmental, Social and Governance Investing [which refers to three central factors in measuring the sustainability and ethical impact of in investment in a business]. That is something directly designed to make things better, but through the use of financial tools. We also found out about foundations and investing for not-for-profits. All of that combined has shown me that there is still a way to be in finance and pursue some form of public service. I was very interested in law and politics from the social-good perspective, and I’m seeing those worlds align with finance.”
A raft of surveys indicate that women do more research, are better at matching their investments to their goals, trade less and remain calmer during market upheavals. If you’re unsettled by this year’s stock market swoon, you may be interested to know that, on average, the portfolios of female investors hold up better than those of their male counterparts during a downturn. An analysis of the 60,000 users of Openfolio, an online investment-sharing platform, found that in 2014, a stellar year for the markets, the women investors it tracks outpaced their male peers by an average of 0.4 percentage point. In 2015, a poor year for markets, women lost an average of 2.5%, compared with a loss of 3.8% for men. In both years, women on average achieved their results with smaller swings than men had, adding luster to their already impressive achievements.
Investing itself, we’re in favor of. (You might have picked up on that, since we’re a company named Ellevest.) Especially investing in low-cost, well-diversified investment portfolios. That’s because — we’ve said it before, and we’ll keep saying it — we really, really need to fix the gender investing gap. Women don’t invest as much as men — we keep 71% of our money in cash (in other words, out of the market). This is part of the reason that we retire with two-thirds the money of men (even though we live longer).
Bostic also serves as a board member of Freddie Mac, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Abode Communities. He is a fellow of the National Association of Public Administration, vice president of the Association of Public Policy and Management, a member of the board of trustees of Enterprise Community Partners, and a research advisory board member of the Reinvestment Fund.
MS. VERVEER: But she's really brought extraordinary leadership, certainly to the United States Cabinet as the Secretary of Education, to now be here in North Carolina running the university system in terms of what this state represents in the full-flowering of the university system, which is well-known. But also, the work you've done with President George Bush both in terms of policy work, political work, etc. So, by any definition Margaret is a leader, and that's what we're going to discuss—leadership. And I think today more than ever women are in a pivotal position. Just look at all of you, the kinds of positions we probably wouldn't have been in ten years ago. The difference we can make, the data that shows that we're growing economies, it's critical. Driving social progress. Why is it so crucial in your eyes that we push this forward as best as we can?
As a female Baby Boomer, I'll admit that this realization was a little scary. We all see the statistics on the number of Baby Boomers retiring every day – shouldn't I be ready to join that movement any day now? But I quickly discovered I was not alone in my fears. Talking with my close friends, I was amazed to find that many of us were in the same boat. Of course, when you consider the many unique challenges women face in retirement planning, it's not surprising that my female friends shared my same fears and difficulties.
MS. SPELLINGS: What we're doing right is focusing on reading. Here in North Carolina there's been a major emphasis around early literacy. If people can't read and cipher at high levels very early then you're on a track for failure. So, you know, we're out of denial about that. A key part of that, certainly for the university, is making sure that our teachers are prepared to be effective in teaching reading, but teaching reading in disadvantaged communities, rural communities, urban communities, poor communities, etcetera, and I think we, and one of the things that I'm challenging myself to do since we run 14 teacher preparation programs, is understand how well we're doing that. You know, when the, when we have the reading results that we have in this state, which are not terribly encouraging, it tells me those well-intended, high-energy young people that are teaching in our schools don't have the best tools available or we'd have better results. So, that's, we have accountability for that in the university.
Managing your checking account, saving up for vacation, paying your bills on time and making sure your credit score is on point can be stressful. As for choosing the best financial app that works for you, you want to make sure that it’s not only aesthetically pleasing and provides content to help you grow your financial literacy, but most importantly that it assists you in setting and achieving those financial goals of yours.
The only reason I would say no is b/c finance is by far the major white-collar industry of NYC. In the manhattan neighborhood I lived in, I was intrigued whenever I met a person who didn't work in finance. I mean there's finance, real estate (which might also be considered finance) and law. However there's also random consulting companies and some large corporate HQ that are still in NYC. In the end though finance can be pretty broad pay-wise and workweek-wise.
2. Make “friends” with risk. Women prefer to preserve wealth even if it means giving up higher returns. Take a 51-year-old attorney (who preferred not to give her name) as an example; she has consistently contributed the maximum allowed by her law firm’s retirement plan. “I know I should be investing in stocks, but I don’t want a repeat of 2008. My money is parked in a money market fund, where I know it’s safe.”