Investor Insights | August 2015
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Own Your Financial Future: A Guide for Women

First Published on on July 1, 2015

Five tips for women to help them plan to achieve their dreams and prepare for the unexpected.


A growing economic force, women account for 47% of US wealth creators. Two-thirds of women identify themselves as primary decision-makers, not just influencers, when it comes to money. And yet, four out of five women say they lack confidence in their financial knowledge.1


“When it comes to controlling the purse strings and managing day-to-day budgeting and spending, women do well,” says Marie Moore, Financial Advisor at The Moore Group at Morgan Stanley in Dallas, Texas. “But they often don’t get involved in the wealth building part of the equation, leaving control of the invested family capital to their husband or partner.”


Women also represent two-thirds of family caregivers, whether it’s caring for young children or aging parents.2 Between their responsibilities at home and at work, many women spend so much time caring for others that they forget to make themselves—and their financial futures—a priority.


Moore, who is one of America’s top 100 women financial advisors, offers the following advice to help ensure you—or your mom, daughter, sister, aunt, friend—are financially secure.


Talk with Your Partner About Money
Money can be a complicated and even controversial topic.


“People will often talk freely about sex, drugs and even their plastic surgery, but everyone zips up when it comes to money,” says Moore. “The first and most important tip I give to women is to discuss their finances with their partner and their children as freely as they would any other topic.”

Open discussion about money makes it easier to develop a financial plan that takes into account your family values and goals and is flexible enough to provide the security you need if Plan A doesn’t unfold as expected.


“You should have an understanding of all the different types of assets your family has,” says Moore. “In my experience, if a woman asks about financial planning or shows an interest in the family investments, this can sometimes be threatening to her partner, making it difficult for her to learn about the status of financial affairs without coming across as confrontational.”


Have a Financial Plan
Moore encourages couples to create a family financial plan, even if it’s just a preliminary one. “Talking through the plan together, what kinds of events you need to plan for—education, second homes, weddings, when you might be able to retire, a lasting legacy—is the best way for women and their partner to see where all the assets are,” says Moore. “When all the assets are disclosed, the topic of financial planning becomes shared territory, and conversations about money get easier.”


Factor in Widowhood or Divorce
The average life expectancy for a woman is just over 80 years, which means not only a retirement that could last 15 to 20 years or more, but also a high likelihood of outliving your spouse3. Are you prepared to take on the responsibility of making investment and asset allocation decisions as a surviving wife?


“All too often, women are unaware of the true state of family financial affairs until they are plunged into it due to the incapacitation or passing of their husbands,” says Moore. “The same is true for divorcees, who suddenly find themselves responsible for their own financial well-being while coping with enormous emotional stress.”


Considering the things you’d prefer not to think about—death, divorce, disability, disaster—allows you to plan for unexpected detours.


Have the Money Conversation with Your Parents
As the population ages, more and more women will need to shoulder the responsibility of caring for an aging parent. Asking your parents about their financial affairs—wills, insurance policies, investment accounts, birth certificates, passports, long-term care plans—helps you understand if and how to include them in your financial plans.


“Giving your parents the gift of a financial checkup will one day be the greatest gift you could have given them,” says Moore. “They will be prepared for whatever lies in their future, and so will you.”


Get Educated
“If you need to boost your financial literacy, educate yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask questions,” says Moore. “Many women are reluctant to reach out to their Financial Advisor, either feeling intimidated or just reluctant to ask simple questions. It is important to entrust your wealth management to someone you can develop a relationship with and who not only understands your needs, goals and risk tolerance but can also help you understand those as well. Your advisor should be able and willing to clearly explain your financial situation, portfolio allocation and anything else—simple or complicated.”


Still, she says you don’t need to be a master of it all. “Just be confident you know enough to recognize whether the advice you’re getting is sound.”

Morgan Stanley is committed to advancing the financial well-being of women and to being an employer of choice for women.

  1. Center for Talent Innovation. Harnessing the Power of the Purse, 2014.

  2. Caregiving Statistics Action Network, 2014.
  3. USA Today. Life expectancy in the USA hits a record high, October 9, 2014.

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