How Women Can Break Through and Reshape Attitudes About Investing
Investing has been top of mind for many as the stock market fluctuates. With investing being a subject that is not commonly taught in school, many people don’t know how to invest or what to invest in. And if they do, they aren’t too confident in their abilities.
Historically, differences in investing attitudes have existed between women and men, with women acknowledging to being more cautious investors. Recent events have further heightened concerns with factors like inflation, war, and the continuing impact of the pandemic.
A recent WSFS survey found that men (85%) were more confident than women (70%) in being able to achieve their goal of investing more of their money in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and real estate. It is important for women to define their financial objectives and what steps they need to take to build more confidence as it relates to money and investing.
Here are ways women can continue building their financial confidence and ensure they are investing in ways that benefit their future.
A key step when building confidence is to assess your comfort level as it relates to risk, as this will inform what type of investor you are and what your portfolio is comprised of. A quick way to assess this is to look at the volatility of the market and how you feel about it–this sentiment tends to align with what you would be comfortable with in your portfolio. For example, how would you feel if the stock market dropped 10%?
While this is a basic assessment, a financial planner can offer further guidance to help you hone in on your risk appetite. From there, they can take a holistic approach to your portfolio and help you build an allocation of assets that balance the risk and optimize the performance so you get the best rate of return for what you are comfortable with.
Typically, women tend to be more risk averse when it comes to investments than men. While those who are willing to take risks can see quick returns, many investors who are more conservative, like women tend to be, often see more success in the long-run.
Think Long Term
The WSFS survey found men (81%) were more confident than women (75%) that they’d be able to achieve the goal of increasing savings in their retirement account. On average, women will prepare more for their future but will still have $400K less in retirement savings than men.
This is a direct result of the compounding effect of the wage gap that exists. Because of this, women should consider investing early and often in order to be able to continue the lifestyle they have built well beyond retirement.
Ways to save more for retirement include taking full advantage of your employer’s 401(k) plan and at a minimum, contributing enough to your plan to receive a full match from your employer. This in effect doubles your contribution up to the employer match amount. If possible, consider contributing more to your 401(k) than just the employer match. Also, consider attending retirement seminars to learn about your options, and break down your retirement goal into small increments that you can easily keep track of and consider as check-points toward your end goal.
Turn to Industry Experts
You can also build confidence by working with, and learning from, a financial planner or investment advisor. However, it’s important to find a financial planner that you trust. Consider asking your friends who they work with and why they trust them. This is a good starting point, and a way to gather referrals. Next, think about the professionals you already work with (lawyers, doctors, etc.), and what is it that you value the most about them. Try to replicate that quality in your financial planner. Lastly, ensure they understand your communication style, which allows you to learn about your investment options and therefore build more confidence.
While there are numerous financial strategies that could lead to success, and there is no blanket right or wrong level of risk that should be taken, the most important factor is that women take ownership of their financial future, whether by working with a financial advisor or taking the right steps to identify and reach their financial goals for themselves.
Jennifer Dempsey Fox is the first woman President of Bryn Mawr Trust. In her role, Fox sets the strategy and leads the multidisciplinary team of financial professionals working with clients to help connect them to a fulfilled life. Her team leads with advice and planning to deliver customized investment, trust, and banking solutions. Prior to the recent combination with WSFS, in just three years, Fox doubled the revenue and assets under management of Bryn Mawr Trust’s $23.6 billion Wealth Management Division.
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