Many of us grew up in a household where Dad was the breadwinner and Mom was a homemaker. Such was our social culture at the time. Men controlled all the money and gave a household allowance to their wives. But that meant that women had the real power when it came to purchasing decisions.
While many families today have two breadwinning parents, there’s one thing that hasn’t changed – and that’s the household money. Women still hold the purse strings for the family wallet; they decide were the money goes.
However, women have advanced financially in leaps and bounds – far beyond the old days of household allowances. These smart and savvy moms are invested in their family’s financial planning…and why not?
The New “Money Roles” of Modern Moms
The 21st century is a world of shifting paradigms and evolved economies where women have stepped up to be more aggressive in leadership, taking on new roles and becoming top business executives while still being a hands-on mom at home. Women as business owners and investors of capital are creating more and more wealth so it makes sense that they would take their expertise and apply it toward the benefit of their own families.
Beyond social progress, it is also a simple matter of math. Our population has a greater percentage of females than males, and that female population statistically lives longer. These women have been their household’s “CFO” for years and in the coming years, after retirement, they’ll become an even more significant portion of the population with a lot of money to save, spend and invest.
In dealing with my own clients, I know that women are taking more and more of a role in their finances and have a big say (sometimes the final say) in a family’s major financial decisions. Plenty of times, I ‘ve had conversations with male clients and before a final call is made, they’ll close with “All right, let me run all this by my wife.” It’s often one of the last hurdles when meeting a new male client – making sure his wife approves of the person who will be handling her family’s financial security. This is a clear testament to the input and growing power of women.
The Financial Planning “Black Hole” that Most Families Fall Into
Women at the helm of financial planning will only become more commonplace in the future, spurred on by growing knowledge and experience in economics and finances. The recent financial meltdown also served as a clarion call for more women to assert themselves and become more aware of and in charge of their own financial well-being by becoming financially literate and starting a financial plan.
As many women begin to venture further into taking responsibility for their own financial security and that of their family, they also should take the steps necessary to become familiar and knowledgeable about finances. Surveys suggest that while a growing number of women are taking an active role in their finances, few indicate they are as informed about the particulars of their investments or retirement plans as their male counterparts. Further, they demonstrate an aversion to risk and don’t act to maximize the potential for growth in their portfolios.
Working women, and wives especially, should make efforts to sit down with their husbands and financial advisors, if there is one, to talk about plans for retirement. Surveys also indicate that married women often have less knowledge about their retirement preparations than their husbands, and that in many cases, both men and women put off crucial discussions of retirement because it’s either “inconvenient” or still “a long way off.” Women should also ensure they know what kind of insurance benefits they might be entitled to. Women married to executives, for example, often have don’t have a clear understanding about what kind of life insurance they and their families have via their husbands.
Women have taken on roles with greater dimensions, as homemakers and decision-makers, business owners and investors. Equipped with the knowledge and confidence to succeed, they can ensure their families continue to thrive and that their financial needs are met.
Larry Palmer is Managing Director of Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management in Los Angeles.