December 4, 2015 - By: Heidi Toth
Laura Mattia, a doctoral student in personal financial planning, found married women are more likely to lack financial knowledge.
Helping women become financially literate and confident is the hypothesis behind Laura Mattia's research.
Years ago a 70-year-old woman sat across the desk from Laura Mattia. Her husband had died, and in an attempt to get her finances in order she saw a financial adviser, who recommended she buy a specific investment product. That product failed. The widow, whose husband took care of the money while he was alive, lost half of her savings.
A woman Mattia met volunteering at a rape crisis center put up with years of domestic abuse because she had no control over her family’s finances and thus couldn’t break away. Though she brought in half of the family’s income, her husband retained control. She couldn’t get enough money to get away.
A third woman worked in finance on Wall Street but let her husband handle the money. When they divorced, money was missing from their accounts. She didn’t know when or where it had gone and had no way to get an equal share. A fourth woman was left destitute when her husband filed for divorce, leaving her with their house underwater and their savings cleaned out. She hadn’t worked in decades, since she quit her job to support his rising career.
In the 15 years since Mattia became a financial adviser, and many years before that when she worked in corporate finance, on Wall Street and answered questions about finances, she has repeatedly been struck by how women are less likely to be financially aware and the disastrous consequences this can have. Helping women become financially literate and confident became a professional goal and the hypothesis behind her research as a doctoral candidate in the Department of Personal Financial Planning at Texas Tech University.
“These are basic life skills,” she said. “Everybody needs to know how to evaluate their own personal financial situation.”