Women tend to face financial challenges that men often do not. What these hurdles are and how to deal with them are important questions that Lewis Walker, a financial planning and investment strategist at Capital Insight Group in Peachtree Corners, Ga., answers:
Fortune magazine, in its Oct. 1 issue, profiled “The 50 Most Powerful Women” in American business. No. 2 on the prestigious list is Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo. Dubbed “The Queen of Pop,” Nooyi was asked, “What advice would you give women entering the workforce today?” Her answer has implications for both the deployment of personal human capital as well as issues surrounding financial and estate planning
She said everyone, men and women alike, entering the workforce must be prepared for a long journey. But, she counsels, the journey is tougher for women because they “have so many other priorities to worry about.” Compared to men, “women were born with an extra gene that makes us worry about … things just a little bit more.”
Nooyi does not know if it is “societal or genetic, but we worry about the family, the husband, evening’s dinner, yesterday morning’s breakfast, aging parents.” Whether working outside the home or as a stay-at-home mom, the list of things to do and chase around is endless — kids, errands, pets, medical appointments, domicile and yard maintenance, work, volunteering, caregiving, etc.
A U.S. Department of Labor report noted in March that 74.6 million women are in the civilian labor force; 47% of workers are female; women own almost 10 million businesses with $1.4 trillion in annual receipts; 70% of mothers with children under 18 participate in the labor force, with over 75% employed full-time; mothers are the primary or sole earners for 40% of households with children under 18 today, compared with 11% in 1960; women are more likely to have earned a bachelor’s degree by age 29 than men.
All human beings crave safety, women especially. Money, personal health and family issues top the list of stressors. Per the Family Caregiver Alliance, 66% of caregivers are female. The average caregiver is age 49, female, married, employed and caring for a mother who does not live with her. Men may assist but women spend 50% more time providing care than do men.
Financial advisors are called upon to help create a family care plan that may encompass aging parents and, perhaps, special-needs children or adults. More than people suppose, grandparents are raising grandchildren.
Women live longer than men. In 2005, 48% of women 75-plus were living alone, versus 22% of men. Regardless of marital status, women want to achieve and maintain financial independence. Women love their family but they do not want to be a burden on anyone. A long-term care plan is foundational to older age security. In 2005, one in five women age 84-plus needed assistance with daily activities.
A women turning 50 in 2018 may be confronted with children still in the nest with burgeoning educational expenses and full retirement age under Social Security only a short 17 years away at age 67. How much money will you (and spouse, if applicable) need to maintain an independent lifestyle, now and post-retirement? A financial probability study can provide the basis for future planning, and effective strategies for employing both human and financial capital.
We see many errors, especially regarding living and testamentary estate planning. The plan you actually have may not be the one you think you have. When is the last time you audited wills, trusts, powers of attorney for health care and assets, beneficiary designations, insurance of all stripes — group, personal, life, disability, liability? Women tend to worry about “what if?” more than men.
No matter what choices you make on your journey, regrets about one path versus another are bound to crop up. India-born Nooyi, one of the most powerful businesswomen in the world, told The Hindu BusinessLine in April that “managing her family life and work was ‘not easy’ and while she does not regret pursuing her career, she is filled with ‘heartaches’ for not spending as much time with her daughters when they were growing up.”
Life is a series of trade-offs, and purpose and passion play a role in our choices, which should be plan driven. Indra Nooyi learned early to prioritize and compartmentalize. Know your talents and strengths and focus on those.
Dan Sullivan, known as the Strategic Coach, advises entrepreneurs to focus on one’s unique abilities, and outsource everything else. Good advice for everyone. How can you as a busy person surround yourself with effective and engaged teams, in the home, workplace, in community and spiritual pursuits?
When you work from strength and not weakness, you are likely to live a healthier and longer life, meeting personal and financial goals. It’s about choices, planning, execution and learning from mistakes.