Women & Wealth

Note to Financial Advisors: 5 Powerful Insights into How Women Think

I truly believe the best way for women to create wealth is by working with financial professionals. But, according to the Wall Street Journal, “fewer than one in five women currently has an advisor.”

Why? Because women can’t find anyone who understands them.

Advisors are talking to women just like they do men.  Big mistake.  True, money knows no gender. Women, however, are very different from men. Yet the financial world is based on the male model of communication.

Here are 5 powerful insights into how women think:

1) Women are all about relationships. Women are ‘other’ oriented; men are transaction oriented. Women communicate to create relationships and make connections. Men communicate to obtain information, establish status, and show independence.  These are 2 very different conversations.  The message women want to hear: “I care about you. I understand you. I’m here to support you.” How? Ask lots of questions about her goals, dreams, time frames, life style, opinions, her life in general. Listen more than talk. Find out what she needs, not what you think she needs.

2) Women can be very emotional when it comes to money. But in the financial world, conversations about emotions are considered taboo, too touchy-feely, not part of the financial planning process.  Really big mistake. You don’t need a degree in psychology. But you do need to invite her to discuss her fears, her beliefs and her family’s attitudes toward money. Often by simply listening her issues, addressing her qualms while explaining her options can be enough to get her past her emotional blocks.

3) Women want to be educated. Men like to learn through trial and error. Women like to be taught. In a study by Deloitte Touche,  90% of the women expected their financial advisor to educate them. They even rated service, advice and education far ahead of performance.  What’s one of the best ways to educate women? Seminars. Why?  According to an Emory University study, “the pleasure and reward centers of their brain light up if they can work towards their financial goals in a cooperative way with other women.”

4) Women define success differently than men. Men define success as being in control; women as how well they can help others. The financial media, and the industry itself, seem to believe that scary statistics, alarming statements, and worse case scenarios will actually motivate women.  But clearly fear tactics haven’t worked. Instead, talk to her about how investing allows her to experience the joys of philanthropy, the thrill of leaving a legacy, the satisfaction of helping people she loves and causes she’s passionate about.

5) Women clients tend to be more time consuming, especially at the beginning. Women expect more service, ask more questions. But she’ll be your client for life if she knows you are there for her, as her partner, a part of her team, an advisor she can trust. In my 1st appointment with Eileen, my long time advisor, she told me: “My job is to see your needs are met. It’ll take time but I need to find about your goals and level of risk.” And she did. Then she gave me choices. “I see myself in partnership with you. Here are your choices. Let’s discuss each of them and figure out what is best for you.”

I participated in a tele-seminar discussing these very points at length. I believe you’ll find it exciting and informative. Click here to listen.

Time to Have a Love Affair with Your Money

“It’s amazing what you can do with money!” my daughter said to me the other day.

Her husband, a film maker, is directing a documentary funded by a generous sponsor with very deep pockets. Normally, he’s working on a shoestring. This time, he gets pretty much free rein to do fun things, like travel to far-off places and hire helicopters for various shots.

Yes, it is amazing what you can do with money.  What’s puzzling is why are countless women ignoring their finances?

I’m beginning to think its fear of relationship.

In my mind, money is like a Perfect Lover. All it wants to do is serve you and support you. All it requires, in return, is to be respected and appreciated.

In other words, just like a man, money needs your attention; it needs to feel understood, cared about, and valued. Otherwise, it’s not likely to stick around for the long haul.

As in all relationships, there are good times and bad times.  Right now, it’s one of those bad times for many.  If you’re in that spot, this is not the time to turn your back, throw in the towel or ignore your money. At least not if you want money to be there for your old age.

Now is the time to work on creating more intimacy with your money. Get to know it better. Learn what it needs and how to best care for it. Make sure it feels the love. (The “love of money” is NOT the root of all evil! Deprivation and destitution is.)

Some suggestions for improving your relation$hip:

1.       Talk to a professional. Make an appointment with a financial advisor.  (Try my book Finding a Financial Advisor You Can Trust)

2.       Give it attention. Read something every day about money, even if it’s just a paragraph. (Try the Wall Street Journal)

3.       Talk to others. Ask friends and colleagues who are smart with money for advice

4.       Be wary of hype, rumors and scare tactics. Bad news can be seductive, but it’s usuallyskewed.

I honestly think it’s time we all start having a love affair with our money.  You’ll be amazed at what you’ll be able to do together as a result .

Women are Not Men! (Part I)

Excuse me while I climb up on my favorite soapbox.

I can’t help myself. Dailyworth posed a question that got me all worked up.

What would you tell the financial industry about how, specifically, they can better serve women?

Oh boy. So much to tell. So little space.

But I’d start with this: Women are not men!

Obvious, right? But clearly, the financial industry hasn’t gotten that memo.

I’m a big fan of financial professionals. I’ve had the same advisor for 11 years (after going through nine others that didn’t get the memo either). I even wrote a booklet, “Finding a Financial Advisor You Can Trust.

Sadly, the bulk of advisors (I’m including both sexes here) still live in the dark ages when it comes to female clients.

So, inspired by DailyWorth, here are my suggestion for how the financial industry can shape up and better serve women. I call it:

What Women Wish You Knew Before They Walk into Your Office, Part I

1. Women are all about relationships. Men are transaction oriented. Men communicate to obtain info, establish status, and show independence. Women are ‘other’ oriented. Women communicate to create relationships and make connections. So when dealing with women, think in terms of ‘connecting with’ rather than ‘selling to.’

2. Inspire rather than frighten. The industry seems to think the best way to motivate women is with scary statistics and worst case scenarios. But fear produces paralysis in most women. If you want to motivate a woman, speak to what inspires her, NOT what scares her. While men define success as being in control, women define success is how well they can help others (it’s that relationship thing!). So, instead of filling her with fear, show her how informed investing allows her to help people she loves and causes she’s passionate about.

More pointers coming in Part II. Meanwhile, feel free to send this list to any advisor you know. You’ll be doing them a big favor.

Women are Not Men! (Part II)

Not long ago, I responded to the DailyWorth question: What would you tell the financial industry about how, specifically, they can better serve women?

And, Lord knows, they sure do need help serving women. Smart Money reports that over 70% of women feel under served and dissatisfied with the financial-planning services they receive.

So listen up, all you financial pros. I offered 2 pointers in the first part of this blog. Here are 4 more.

What Women Wish You Knew Before They Walk into Your Office, Part II

1. Educate her. While men prefer to learn through trial and error, women want to be taught.  A study by Deloitte & Touche found that 90% of women expected their advisor to provide education and guidance rather than “sell them on effective investment practices.” And never assume just because a woman wears a designer suit or has an executive title,  she’s savvy with her own money.

2. Think seminars. Women enjoy  seminars because they get to gather in groups, talk among themselves, network, exchange views, learn they’re not alone.   But make sure the seminar you’re offering is really designed for women  and not just a generic clone. Women have distinct issues around  money, different from men, due to their upbringing, cultural conditioning, and  emotional blocks.  Address, don’t avoid, those issues. (Shameless plug:  I offer two turn-key seminars designed specifically for women to be given by financial advisors.)

3. Show respect. Treat women as intelligent adults.  I’m aghast at how many advisors still tend to patronize women, address only the  husband,  or speak ‘financialese’. Being treated with dignity is a big deal for women. We  do not want to be sold to or pressured in any way. We want to feel listened to, understood,  given  choices and time to make our decisions. When we say “I’ll think about it” it doesn’t mean ‘no’…it usually means we’re going to kick around the ideas with  others, which is what we do!

4. Address her emotions. This is a tough one for  advisors, to whom talk of emotions is too touchy feely.  But like it or not, money is a highly  emotional topic for most women.  It’s been our forbidden fruit. You don’t have to be a shrink (though many advisors now partner with therapists or coaches). Ask her  questions,  allow her to talk about her fear, listen to her feelings, slowly educate her, and focus on inspiring rather than scaring her.

This is, by no means, a definitive list. What you would add? Tell me in the comments below. And I’ll pass them on to the wonderful folks at Daily Worth.

While you’re at it, you might want to subscribe. It’s free!

Fear & Resistance: Cracking the Code

I did it!  I actually did it!  I showed My Man my financials…and he did the same.

And you know the biggest lesson I learned (yet again) from all this?  The fear of doing is always worse than the actual doing! Now, in hindsight, I wonder, “what the hell was the big deal anyway??”

The second biggest lesson: resistance wanes the closer you get to the root of it. The moment I realized it was my childhood fear of feeling different and not being accepted, those old demons didn’t seem nearly so threatening.

So here’s what happened:

We were sitting around the kitchen table. He had just made me eggs.  (Gotta love a man who cooks!!)  I showed him the recent blog about my old journal and my epiphany. (My Man…My Money…and Me)

He read it thoughtfully, then looked up at me and said, ever so gently:  “I totally understand.”

Without even thinking, I walked to the stack of mail on the kitchen counter and tore open an over-sized envelope. How perfect that my August financial statements had just arrived the day before. I pushed aside the dishes, spread out the papers, and said, “This is what I have.”

He listened, asked a few questions, and told me he was proud of the way I managed my money, especially given my history. Then, he described what he had in each of his accounts, I asked a few questions, and praised him for being so responsible.

I got up, washed the dishes, and we took a walk. That was it. It was a non-event.

But at the same time, it was clearly a turning point. We each realized, without saying a word, we’d taken our relationship to a new level of intimacy and trust.  And it felt really good!


An Amazing Secret For Creating Abundance

image-sunflowers I made a fascinating discovery in my interviews with women who made millions.  They had a very high capacity to receive… in stark contrast to underearners!  That’s when I realized: There’s a direct correlation between our level of abundance and our ability to receive

…which got me thinking about my own ability to receive — something I’d never really given much thought to.

As a result, I started a “Receiving Journal”.  I actually conceived the idea of a Receiving Journal for the High Earner Intensive tele-seminar (which evolved into Sacred Success).  I assigned it as homework, and decided to try it myself.  OMG, what an eye-opener.

Keeping a Receiving Journal serves the same purpose as tracking your spending.  Both are consciousness raising tools.  But instead of increasing your awareness of money going out, a Receiving Journal forces you to face all the abundance flowing in.

As A Course of Miracles tells us: “Every day a thousand treasures come to me with every passing moment.”   The problem, however, is that the distractions of daily life keep us from noticing those treasures.  Ignoring treasures that flow in is, essentially, an act of pushing them away, of saying ‘no’ to abundance (whatever form it may take).

To fully access the power of a Receiving Journal, you have to understand this: everything that happens holds a gift for the receiver, regardless of whether you judge the event as ‘good’ or  ‘bad’.

Here’s how it works: in your Receiving Journal, write down everything you are given throughout the day:  from a word of praise to a kiss on the cheek, from a muscle spasm in your back to a reprimand from your boss.  The challenge, of course, is to find the treasure  in what may seem awful.  But even the good stuff can be challenging to accept.

For example:  I started noticing how often I’d gloss over expressions of praise or appreciation for my work, without really taking the words in and owning them fully.  So I started listing, in my journal, every compliment, every appreciative email I got.  And when I had a fight with my boyfriend, I actually stopped to figure out the gift (after my short bout with self pity) and discovered I was repeating a pattern that had messed up other relationships. That insight went in my journal too.

I love the impact this is having on my bottom line.  But even more, I’ve never felt so good about myself.  And as I learned from interviews with former underearners, the moment they began raising their self esteem, their income went up almost immediately.   Maybe that’s what a Receiving Journal is all about… not just expanding your ability to receive, but actually learning to love yourself, in a much bigger way. I’ll tell you this… it’s working!!!!


It’s not about money…

A lot of women in my workshops tell me they feel guilty about wanting to make more money, as if a profit motive were something shameful. I understand their conflict. I used to struggle with it myself. But that was before I wrote my book, Secrets of Six-figure Women. Stone archI always asked every woman I interviewed this question: Are you doing what you’re doing for the money? With rare exceptions, every one swore that it wasn’t the money that motivated her success. It was what the money represented, something much deeper, more personal, and very individual. These women were driven more by what they hoped to achieve rather than what they aspired to earn. Each one had a vision for her life based on cherished values like recognition, independence, security, or achievement. These intangible goals rather than hard cash provided the fuel for their financial success.

However, there was an important distinction that made a big impact on me. Granted, these women weren’t in it for the money. But at the same time—this is the key—they darn well wanted to be well compensated because they felt they were worth it. Their financial success didn’t come from the love of money, but love of self…and the value they placed on what they offered.

I have come to see that achieving self love, self worth, self respect are the real secrets to financial success, much more so than working longer hours or seeking multiple streams of income. Would you agree?

Your Feminine Mystique

I’ve been writing books about women and money for over a decade. But it’s only in the past few years that I’ve witnessed a growing trend. Women are coming together for the sole purpose of financial education. And not just in formal investment clubs. Women are forming money book clubs or simply study groups on the subject. They are gathering in person, or through the internet. ( Wife.org offers fantastic money groups).

HandsThis phenomenon sends me right back to the early 70”s when, sparked by Betty Friedan’s book “The Feminine Mystique,” consciousness raising groups began sprouting up. For the first time, women were sharing more than tips on how to catch a man or raise a child. We began searching for meaning and purpose outside the proscribed roles of mother and wife. Those tiny gatherings around kitchen tables sparked perhaps the most dramatic social change in history: the feminist revolution.

But you know what the feminists forgot? Money. Today women make up half the workplace, but financially many of us are still in the dark ages.

I am thrilled with this new dimension of consciousness raising. Women finally understand they need to be financially savvy. And we’re figuring out fast that learning in groups is especially powerful. Women by nature are relationship oriented. We learn best from each other. Combining girl-talk with financial-speak greatly decreases intimidation levels and ups the fun factor exponentially. The result: a growing cadre of economically independent women are reclaiming their power, taking charge of their lives, and having a great time in the process.

In case you missed it, a study group guide is included in the paperback edition of Secrets of Six-Figure Women. I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from women who have followed it.

Have you joined (or started) a money group? I’d love to hear about your experience.

What would you do with a windfall?

Diamond RingHere’s a question for you. If you had a choice—a $25,000 diamond ring or $25,000 in stock—what would you pick?

An Oxygen network survey asked women that very question. And you know what? The whopping majority (almost 80%) went for the stock. On the surface, that sounds like great news. But here’s what I’d like to know. How many of those women, if given a $25,000 check, would actually call their broker and buy the stock? Would you? Sadly, my guess is no.

Every piece of research I’ve read says the same thing: women today know full well they need to protect themselves financially, but they still aren’t doing it. The recognition is there, but the resistance is stronger. For example, in a 2004 Prudential Financial survey, 53% of the women said they expected to save and invest more that year. But in 2006, that same poll found only 11% had actually invested in stocks or mutual funds for the first time; only 14% opened a retirement account.

As I see it, when it comes to money, the more things change, the more they stay the same. There is still a frightening level of financial passivity and ignorance among even the most successful women.

The deeper question I have is: What can be done to motivate more women to take control of their money? Is financial inertia something you’ve seen, or struggled with personally? What has worked (or not worked) for you?

Feel free to leave your comments on this blog. If you want to read the same article I read about this survey: http://savannahnow.com//node/344335

Meet Barbara Huson

When a devastating financial crisis rocked her world, Barbara Huson knew she had to get smart about money… and she did. Now, she wants to empower every women to take charge of their money and take charge of their lives! She’s doing just that with her best-selling books, life changing retreats and private financial coaching.

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