WF wants to know why women often do not discuss their finances – everything from the stock market to retirement. We need to shed some light on this and ignite the conversation!
WF spoke with two incredibly talented, dynamic, young women (who are also sisters!) who have successfully pursued careers in the worlds of finance and accounting. Since they are still part of a rare breed, we wanted to uncover how they got interested in the field and what women today need to consider about their own finances.
SO, let’s talk…MONEY!
WF: Why do you think most women are not comfortable discussing financial matters when they get together with other women?
Sarah: One of the big reasons I think women do not discuss finances is more of a gender-centric issue. For example, research shows that while men are comfortable discussing a topic that they may only know 40% about, women it turns out want to feel like they know something fully i.e. closer to 100% of the topic to feel free to discuss it, be it finances, politics or sports.
And, as it pertains to finances in particular – men share their financial successes very openly and competitively. Anything from salaries, to commissions to stock picks.
Laura: In addition to the gender bias issue, I think this also stems from the discussion that women do not become financially literate at a young age. Over the past 13 years, I typically have dealt only with the male member of the household on taxation issues. Women are often not part of the conversation. So, if women are not being involved in a part of their finances as fundamental as taxation, it is easy to see why women naturally don’t get involved in more complex topics such as investing. And traditionally, men might naturally gravitate toward taking over the financial role in the household – everything from paying household expenses to looking after the taxes and investment decisions.
Sarah: My perspective is a little different than Laura’s. Our research shows that 60% of most women and 84% of high net worth women are responsible for these decisions. While they may not speak up in the actual investment meeting, they know where they want to put their money.
So, I am hoping a shift is coming. One thing that I am delighted to see – is that families are starting to bring their children into investment meetings. In fact, one client brought their 9 year old daughter. It is wonderful to see people trying to help their children learn about investing and financial literacy.
WF: Are women increasingly vulnerable in the time of Covid and how can they better protect themselves?
Laura: As we mentioned, it is really important that women have knowledge of their investments and financial circumstances. One of the most stressful situations that arises, whether in times of COVID or not, is not having an understanding of where things are at when you need to the most, such as losing a partner.
WF: What are they top tips that you would give to your female clients about finances?
Laura: The biggest tip I would give to all my clients is, Just Dive In!! Learning a little bit about something is better than not knowing anything.
Listen to podcasts.
Ask your advisor.
Know your expenses.
Know your passwords.
Understand your tax return.
Sarah: In addition to Laura’s suggestions, keep your finances top of mind.
Make it a habit to check your finances.
Understand the power of compounding. Starting today makes all the difference!
Suggest it as the next book for your book club.
WF: What are some books, websites or podcasts that you would recommend to help women start on their path to financial literacy and freedom?
Secrets of Wealth Women: The Wall Street Journal
How I Built This with Guy Raz
Books and Magazines:
Own It: The Power of Women – Sallie Krawcheck
New York Times
Wall St Journal
WF: For women entrepreneurs like ourselves, are there any resources specifically for women?
Although these are not women targeted specifically, a couple of options are Clearbanc or the government centers like BDC in Canada or SBA in the US.
WF: Who are your role models?
Sarah: Being the youngest of three girls – most definitely my sisters. I have watched them as they juggle careers and children. And, of course our parents.
Laura: Most definitely our parents. Accounting is a tough career where you get out of it as many hours as you put in. Watching how hard our parents worked to raise the three of us and at the same time build successful careers was inspiring. They definitely taught us the values of hard work, honesty and family.
WF: Your situation is unique given that the world of finance is largely dominated by men. We wanted to begin our interview today by trying to understand how two sisters ended up in the world of accounting and finance.
Sarah: Well, I actually didn’t start in finance. I went to a small university on the east coast of Canada to study a degree in event management. If anything, I did not see myself having a career in finance. Both of our parents were accountants and I simply wanted to explore a different career path. But, midway through second year I realized that I wanted to switch majors. While it took a lot of catching up to do – including going back to take grade 12 calculus online (which my mother has never let me forget!) I have never looked back.
I graduated and started my career in sales at Sunlife Global Investments and then moved to Fidelity Investments where I now lead a team of salespeople – men and women. Part of my role now is speaking to women at both the university and high school levels about choosing careers in finance.
Laura: Unlike Sarah, I knew I wanted a career in business and took all the required courses in high school. Initially, I thought I wanted to focus on marketing. But, by the end of first year, I realized that it just was not for me (aka – I was not creative enough and not interested in market research at all!!). So, I decided to give accounting a try.
I started my career in public accounting 13 years ago, and 7 years ago started my own firm. I just recently sold the firm – so I will be taking the next 6 months off to focus on my family and think about the next chapter of my career. I may explore options outside of the public accounting field such as a controller or I could possibly even look at a role on the tax side of finance.
Sarah: So, to answer your question about what ultimately led us both to this career path, it was undoubtedly the influence of our parents. While we did not realize it at the time, I think having both parents in the accounting field influenced the lens through which we viewed everything from current events to dinner conversations. I mean think about how “nerdy” our dinner conversations really were?!?
Laura: I would agree with Sarah and say that undoubtedly our parents had a big impact on shaping our interests, as well as our set of influencers. Not only did we become comfortable understanding discussions on finance, but also learned about the value of money. For example, from a young age, we both had to work for our spending money, as well as contribute to our university education.
WF: Thank you ladies! We appreciate you taking the time to share your insights and experiences. You have given our readers powerful information ad tools to equip them to take hold of their financial independence and future.