How Should You Think About Money, Now?

How Should You Think About Money, Now?

By Karen and Erica

Do you need financial advice? And if you are a woman, should you seek out a woman adviser?

Yes, and maybe.

When we were young and impecunious, we did not think about finances at all, except on a cash basis—we knew we needed to live somewhere, and dress, and eat. Later, we still thought in cash—how would we maintain our homes, and get our children fed and clothed and educated. Of course, having children does lengthen your perspective, so we thought about their futures, as well. That perspective changed again as we edged closer to retiring from our law careers, and the end of our paychecks. We realized we needed professional advice. And as we went through the thought process of developing Lustre, we began to think about whether women need advice different from men, and whether female financial professionals had a better sense of women’s needs.

We don’t think women have to be advised by women—though it is nice. That is, whether it is a woman or a man who is seeking retirement advice, we assume any adviser will use the same strategies for making sure her or his assets will stretch to keep them secure in retirement.

But we also think we come at financial planning from different places, and with different facts. Those of us who grew up in the 60s and 70s may have encountered male partners who felt responsible for the money in the family—not the spending of it, which women controlled to a large extent, but the earning and growth of it. Not all of us considered the broad financial picture, or interacted with financial advisers at all, let alone with women advisors. So we may not arrive at this part of retirement with the same ease as a man might. And financial institutions may not have had much experience dealing with us, either. We assume they know that the retirement/age facts for men and women are different—women live longer, yet may have earned and saved less, but often stand to inherit from their spouses. We need to make sure they do.

At least some institutions advertise that they understand the differences. We have personal experience with Citibank, which initiated a groundbreaking initiative called Women & Co. to figure out what women wanted and needed. UBS is outspoken in its interest in women. So are Morgan Stanley and Pimco and Wells Fargo. And very likely lots of others. Do you have experience, or specific advisers, you would like to share? Please click on the comment box below.

Meanwhile, here are five things to think about if you have already retired:

  • Be clear about what resources you have. Pension, Social Security, property.

  • Be equally clear about what you need to live, and assume you will live at least til 90.

  • Figure out how much you need to have fun, or to engage in philanthropy, or to start a business, or to do whatever you want to make your post-career life fulfilling.

  • Find a professional to help you figure it out and make it all work.

  • And don’t be afraid to talk about money. Many of us were socialized to find money conversations awkward. Now that we’ve been through demanding careers, we have earned the right to determine what comes next. To do that, you need to get the financial platform right.

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