Retirement

New Study Highlights How Women Can Control Their Financial Well-Being

In today’s shifting landscape, finances are front and center in many American households. With spiking inflation over the last few years, a pending election cycle, market volatility, and a massive transition in wealth in the US over the next decade, financial planning can seem as complex as ever. Additionally, the roles that family members play in financial planning and our economy has shifted significantly over the past 50 years. By 2030, women will be the primary holder of wealth in the United States, as reported by a 2020 McKinsey and Company report, signaling a shift in their roles within financial planning. In the same report, the total amount of wealth transitioning to women in the next decade is projected to exceed the annual GDP of the U.S., shifting “women as the new face of wealth” here in the U.S. As a result, women are increasingly taking proactive roles in shaping their economic destinies. Bryn Mawr Trust released in 2024 reveals valuable insights into the financial habits of women, emphasizing the importance of active participation in managing wealth. The WSFS study found that for women in households with over $1m in investable assets, 99% reported being involved with the financial planning process with only 1% stating they were not involved. The landscape has shifted.

This article distills key findings into five essential tips and findings for women to assert control over their financial well-being.

1) Embrace Collaborative Responsibility:

Gone are the days when financial planning was exclusively delegated. The study highlights a significant shift, with 60% of women actively sharing financial planning responsibilities with their partners and 99% being involved in some way. “The evolving landscape of financial planning underscores a significant shift towards collaborative financial decision-making, where women are increasingly playing a pivotal role, reflecting broader societal moves towards gender equality in economic matters,” says Jackie Reeves, Director of Retirement Plan Services, Bryn Mawr Capital Management. The first tip is to embrace this collaborative approach, fostering shared decision-making. By actively participating in financial discussions, women can ensure a comprehensive understanding of their financial landscape and jointly contribute to securing a stable economic future. Stay away from financial infidelity. This is a concept where spouses hide and are not honest with spouses about spending or saving. This can create a lot of stress in relationships. “As young women, many of us were taught that it wasn’t ladylike to talk about finances but that’s no longer the case. We now know it is extremely important to talk about finances,” said Bonnie Treichel, CEO of Endeavor Retirement. Open and honest conversations around money can be healthy and help support both the financial planning process and the family relationship.

2) Actively Engage in Retirement Planning:

Retirement planning is a cornerstone of financial well-being, and the WSFS research indicates that younger women are more likely to share responsibility in this area. The study found that 68% of women aged 40-49 were active in financial planning but only 48% of women aged 70-79, demonstrating this shift in wealth over time. However, roughly 20% of women report being the sole decision maker and planner around retirement. Tip number two encourages active engagement in retirement planning discussions. Attend workshops, seek advice from financial experts, and familiarize yourself with investment strategies. For those already handling retirement planning solo, consider sharing insights to empower others in the process.

For retirement planning, start by doing a vision exercise on what you want your retirement to look like for you. Then write down your personal core values. Ask yourself, do your vision and core values align? After that you can move to the financial aspect. Do an accounting of what you have saved today and what your path is to retirement savings. Afterwards, you want to do a quick retirement income analysis on what you can safely generate in retirement. If your goals and income sources misalign, meaning there is an income gap, you need to review what things can help you align the goals and savings. Sometimes this is working longer, investing more aggressively, saving more, cutting back expenses or delaying Social Security. While there are lots of strategies that can help, they need to be tailored to your unique situation and desired outcomes.

3) Cultivate Financial Confidence:

As full involvement and ownership in financial planning increases, so does confidence. The research notes that 62% of non-retired women feel neutral, confident, or excited about retirement planning. Remember, this is the group that is most highly engaged in their finances. Tip three focuses on boosting this confidence further. Educate yourself on financial matters, stay informed about market dynamics, and seek guidance from expert advisors to make informed, strategic decisions aligned with long-term goals. A report from The American College of Financial Services has found that engaging in more financial planning, increasing knowledge, and working with a financial advisor all increase confidence on retirement preparedness. The more we know, the more confident we will feel.

4) Find Balance

Life is not a high score game. It is not just about accumulating the most money humanly possible. Instead, it is about living a life of meaning and passion. Equally important, the survey found that emotional readiness plays a crucial role in money management, and the study highlights that 87% of women feel financially well-prepared for retirement. The women that felt financially prepared for retirement also showed strong correlations to other positive aspects of life. For instance, 78% stated they were confident they could still manage their personal interests and hobbies in retirement and 75% stated they could do the leisure and travel they wanted in retirement. Tip four encourages women to harness this emotional readiness and channel it into proactive financial planning that matches their life goals. Money is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Stress around finances should not overtake our ability to enjoy life. Having a good retirement plan in place can give us the permission to spend money on the things that bring us happiness in life. According to Ellen Jordan, CFP® Professional and SVP at Bryn Mawr Trust, “Retirement is the time to do the things you may have put-off – embrace your purpose and meaning, try to have something to get up and go do – everyday.” Use this confidence and goal alignment to help manage debts effectively, support hobbies, and maintain the desired lifestyle in retirement.

5) Seek Expert Guidance:

When it comes to financial education, the research underscores that consulting experts is a preferred choice for most women as 57%list financial professionals as the preferred source of education and help. Another 40% list family as important for education and support around money. This is a perfect example of tying together both the financial and personal side of life. Family should be consulted and relied upon but in conjunction with expert level technical advice. Tip five advocates seeking advice from professional financial advisors when appropriate. You should look for someone who brings insights into economic trends, market dynamics, financial planning and investment strategies. However, you also want to understand this person’s experience, education, regulatory background (i.e. are they a fiduciary?), compensation model, and their style. A great planner might just not connect with your style or philosophy and that is okay. This is too important of a decision to not find the right person for your situation. This personalized approach ensures that financial goals are met with precision and confidence.

In the era of evolving financial dynamics and transition, women have become the new face of wealth. “The financial transition is marked by a notable increase in women’s engagement and confidence in planning, fueled by their growing presence as major wealth holders, which in turn empowers them to shape their economic destinies with greater assurance and strategic insight,” says Reeves. This brings with it great opportunity and responsibility. By embracing collaborative responsibility, actively engaging in retirement planning, cultivating financial confidence, harnessing emotional readiness, and seeking expert guidance, women can navigate the complexities of financial planning with precision and secure a prosperous future. However, we must remember this is also about living a life by design, one full of passion, joy, and our values.

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