Celebrated every year on March 8th, International Women’s Day is a time to reflect and celebrate the incredible power, strength, and many achievements of women throughout history and around the world. It’s also a time to recognize the work that still needs to be done.
Working with women to educate and support their financial wellbeing for 15 years, I have seen the financial imbalances sometimes faced by women in their relationships. While their spouses continue to make the majority of financial decisions, women are left at a disadvantage in instances of divorce or loss. We need to create the space and opportunity for these women to feel empowered to participate in and direct their own financial well-being.
In the past, women had no decision-making power when it came to household finances. In marriage, they simply became the property of their husbands. By the 1960s, the Equity Pay Act was passed in an attempt to create more fairness in income based on gender. In the 1970s, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act prevented credit from being denied to women on their own merit.
Although we’ve come a long way, women today still lack the same financial independence often provided to men. So, how can society do more to ensure women receive the same financial opportunities and education?
Boost female representation in the financial industry: The representation of women in the financial industry remains an issue, especially in roles above entry-level. According to Deloitte Insights, women still only make up 24% of leadership roles within the financial services sector. Having more women in these leadership roles will help improve financial outcomes and bring in unique perspectives and ideas, especially when it comes to creating new strategies to support women with their finances.
Financial experts need to step up: Fostering an environment of understanding and open discussion can be key to supporting women along their financial journeys. Some of the many ways financial professionals can help include: being more inclusive, asking questions directed at female clients, offering learning sessions, taking time to explain financial terms, and encouraging them to ask questions and explore new resources.
Peers and family can become a key source of support: Partners, family, and friends can also do their part to help promote gender financial equality by encouraging women to be involved in creating and building their own financial stories. This includes understanding statements and accounts, balances, credit, retirement plans, debt, and long-term security and protection. Involving female family and friends in key financial discussions can also help open doors to more opportunities and provide everyone with a safe space to learn and discuss a variety of personal finance topics.
It’s time for women to speak up: Unfortunately, I still see many clients defer decisions on investments, income, retirement planning, insurance, and pension decisions to their spouses. This is detrimental, due to the fact that most women traditionally outlive their spouses, meaning financial decisions will impact them in the long term. Moving forward requires us to include women in discussions surrounding finances and encourage women to speak up, ask questions, and advocate for their own financial wellbeing.
Throughout my career, I have sat across countless worried, upset, and shocked women who have to learn the ins and outs of their finances all at once after a marriage ends or their spouse passes away. It can be stressful, intimidating, and upsetting. However, I have also seen many women become empowered, sell homes they never liked, and buy ones they love. I have seen women start over, grow their assets and provide a new life for their families. These women were able to create a new monthly cash flow and imagine a life where they’re able to decide how to spend their retirement in ways they never thought possible.
It all begins with trust in yourself, trust in a strong financial advocate, and collaboration with a financial partner who can support your vision of what you want your life to be.
Mutual funds, other securities, and securities-related financial planning services are offered through Credential Securities, a division of Credential Qtrade Securities Inc. Credential Securities is a registered mark owned by Aviso Wealth Inc.