Financially fit for life

A today and tomorrow guide for
women investors

May 23, 2016
By BlackRock

When it comes to matters of money, women have big dreams.

Chief among them, according to BlackRock’s 2015 Investor Pulse Survey, is retiring in comfort. Ironically though, only 30% of women aged 55-64 said they feel well prepared for retirement.

Why the dissonance between aspiration and preparation? “It can be easy to overlook the connection between aiming for a long-term goal and investing to achieve it,” says Rob Kron, Head of Investment and Retirement Education at BlackRock. “Women, in particular, seem to identify more easily with saving than investing.”

Whereas women tend to focus on the day-to-day health of household finances and saving, our survey found that men are more likely to emphasize investing and growing wealth for the long term.

This mixing of financial mindsets is a happy marriage, Mr. Kron observes.

“It brings balance to the conversation and ensures that long-term investing plans are pragmatic from a budgetary perspective and purposeful in meeting the family’s financial needs.”

But as shown below, there are important reasons why women should feel empowered to think and invest for the long term.

Women have good reason to think long term

women have good reason to think long term

With that in mind, Mr. Kron offers these practical considerations:

Acknowledge what you do (and don’t) know

Accept your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses when it comes to financial matters. If in a relationship, do the same of your partner. You don’t need to shift your emphasis, but make it your business to understand all angles.

Engage early and often

Be sure you have each established a rapport with your family’s financial professionals (your accountant, financial advisor, estate planning attorney, etc.). Participate in conversations you might prefer to defer to your spouse. Equally important, make it a point to identify and raise topics you wish to discuss. This helps ensure you are engaged in the family’s full financial picture.

Admit mistakes

Some common investing mistakes don’t discriminate by gender. The top four: emotional investing, which can lead to hasty and unfruitful investing decisions; short-sightedness, which can keep you from seeing the big picture; lack of diversification, aka stacking your risk by holding too few positions; and the fear factor, in which hoarding cash or indiscriminate risk avoidance hampers your potential for investment reward. Be honest and inventory your challenges. Do this as an individual and do it as a couple, then discuss possible solutions with your financial advisor.

Prepare for the unexpected

Divorce or widowhood is difficult enough. Having your financial papers and key partners in order ahead of the unexpected can help ease one stress should a life transition come. It is also advisable to make important decisions when everyone is unencumbered and in good health: Establish a will, assign beneficiaries, make succession plans, and plan for incapacity. Having an estate plan is the only way to ensure your wishes are fulfilled. If confronted with divorce, you’re considerations will likely include childcare, insurance and beneficiary changes, taxes, and relocation.

Make retirement a priority

The numbers show women earn less than men, are less likely to be covered by company retirement and pension plans, have longer life expectancies and, as our survey confirms, have set aside less for their retired years. All of this points to the very real need for women to be particularly conscientious about saving and investing for retirement.