Career Blog

The final key to gender equality is mastery of money

Published: July 10, 2018 7:57 a.m. ET Market Watch

Women are skilled with finances and should participate fully in money decisions.

Women have made enormous strides working in occupations historically dominated by men, yet social norms in the U.S. continue to restrict women’s progress, particularly in finance. Female fund managers, financial planners, financial analysts, and financial managers are a small fraction, usually under 20%, of financial professionals.

While many financial organizations recognize the need to advance women in financial roles, women themselves must influence change in both the financial sector and around women’s relationship with money, using tools that can ensure their success. Indeed, female mastery of money is the final key to equity among the genders.

This about more than money — it’s about the power and freedom to make choices.

Indeed, this about more than money — it’s about the power and freedom to make choices. Women must realize that understanding, managing, controlling, earning, and spending money confers status, privilege, power, and freedom — and control of everyone and everything that money can buy or influence.

When women acquire financial skills and knowledge, they can tip the scales of gender-linked power in their direction. This is why it’s so important for women to become financial leaders and advisers, so they can encourage other women to become financially engaged.

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Laura Mattia on Your Money - Audio

Laura Mattia joins host Kent Smetters to discuss her focus on inspiring women to become more financially engaged on Your Money.

Click "continue reading" to hear the podcast

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Not “Me Too” - I’m Out

The Financial Planning Association’s Women’s Knowledge Circle recently had a discussion about the “Me too” movement.

In the discussion the group bemoaned the plight many if not all women have endured - the use of power and oppression through sex. Sexual intimidation at work is another form of bullying behavior which includes verbal abuse, humiliation, threats, and reoccurring and frequent work interference. In this country there are discrimination laws against this behavior. Yet the behavior continues.

As one of the hosts of the women’s knowledge circle, part of my role is to respond and to facilitate conversation. But I didn’t say much since I am conflicted on this topic. Of course, I am bothered by any gender-specific exploitations used to prevent women from achieving successful careers. This behavior does not just threaten career success but also can result in debilitating psychological damage. I am even more deeply angered by behavior that threatens physical safety as a result of sexual pressure and extortion.

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Finding Your Passion in Financial Services

Which comes first, your passion or your job satisfaction.

Interesting question. Cal Newport, an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown university argues that “follow your passion” is bad advice (So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work We Love, by Cal Newport. 2012. New York: Business Plus. 273 pages). He argues that pre-existing passions are often not practical in selecting a profession and instead we should simply seek a profession that we find interesting. Being interested will hopefully motivate you to learn more and master skills that make you successful. But what is success? Success is the ability to make certain your values and personal vision are met because you offer something of value. When you are good at your job, you have leverage to dictate what you want. What are your most important career values? People who choose a financial services career will have different values but there are often similarity or crossover as well such as a desire for variety, responsibility, helping people, and intellectual challenge.

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Read Dr. Mattia's article "Women and Finance: POWER WITH A FINANCIAL PLAN" on the WRC website and featured in their new publication circulating Sarasota called MyWRC.

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Women's Resource Center of Sarasota is conducting a Women's Money Empowerment Series - Series beginning 2/3/18

Dr. Mattia, CFP® will be running a Women's Money Workshop for the Women's Resource Center (WRC) of Sarasota at USF Sarasota-Manatee: 8350 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34243, Saturdays, February 3 & February 10, 9:30am-12:30pm. The purpose of this workshop series is to provide unbiased and objective information so you are empowered to make informed decisions.

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Laura's New Book: Gender On Wall Street: Uncovering Opportunities For Women In Financial Services

Dr. Mattia is the author of the forthcoming book "Gender On Wall Street: Uncovering Opportunities For Women In Financial Services" coming out spring 2018 from Palgrave Macmillan.

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Recently Widowed – Now What?

Women on average live longer than men, and many marry older men.

The result is that most women will find themselves alone since the median age of widowhood is around 60. This is a bad time in any one’s life to become financially responsible since it is usually when wealth is highest and there is more at stake. This is especially true for many married women who did not participate in financial decision making in the past and did not develop necessary skills to make good financial decisions.

The best advice during this emotional time is to take it slow and don’t rush into any major decisions about your financial future. Irreversible decisions made at times of great emotional stress are often regretted. Except in cases of extreme economic necessity, women going through this emotional time should put off decisions about such matters as selling their house, retirement or giving away assets.

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The Cost of Long-Term Care Could Drain Your Nest Egg

Studies of demographic data show that 30 to 50 percent of Americans who make it to age 65 will eventually need to be cared for in an Assisted Living Facility. These same studies demonstrate that almost 50% of women in the U.S. will require this type of care.

When planning for retirement, most of us think about where we want to live, how much we want to travel, how we want to spend our days, and how we’re going to pay for it all - but far too many of us fail to consider the costs associated with changes in our health.

The problem isn’t in becoming sick and dying, the financial risk stems from surviving an illness and then requiring long-term care. Women are more likely to experience the latter scenario, so it is imperative that you plan for this possibility, so you don’t deplete your retirement savings or greatly reduce the value of your estate.

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Did you know that Financial Advisers are not required to give you their best advice?

The law only requires most advisers to provide “suitable” advice.

That means it doesn’t matter if the adviser benefits more than you do, as long as the advice is generally “okay”, but is suitability really good enough? Did you like the restaurant you went to last night? Meh, it was suitable. How did your surgery go? Okay, the doctor was suitable.

If suitable isn’t good enough for restaurants and doctors, it certainly isn’t good enough for financial planning. Inconsistent standards in the financial services industry have allowed anyone, regardless of their competence or integrity, to claim that they are a “financial advisor” and the lack of differentiation between brokers and investment advisors has resulted in different standards of care by individuals that appear similar.

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