Women and Leadership:
Leadership Role of Your Financial Future
As leaders in education, you are no stranger to making critical decisions, establishing a vision to achieve goals and executing plans for your school district. But when it comes to our personal finances, as women we often shortchange our leadership abilities and delegate the financial planning process to a partner or delay the planning process all together.
Women are a financial powerhouse in this country accumulating wealth at an unprecedented rate, controlling 51% of the private wealth.1 We are more likely to be first-time homebuyers, earn more degrees and open more bank accounts than our male counterparts.2 But that growing wealth and spending power combined with our leadership experience doesn’t necessarily translate to a leading role when it comes to our finances. Studies show women are often less comfortable making financial decisions or seeking the advice of a professional.
In a recent survey of 3,000 men and women, slightly less than half the women surveyed felt confident in their ability to manage their finances, compared to 61% of men. But in everyday life, women had more confidence in managing their household budget and paying bills. In this same survey, 47% of women associated negative words like fear, anxiety, inadequacy and dread with financial planning.3
If we employ the same leadership skills we use in our careers to our finances, we can reduce the mystery, anxiety and frustration that many of us feel when engaging in the financial planning process.
Don’t Repeat Mistakes as Generations Before Us
To avoid the financial mistakes my own family had encountered, I was drawn to a career in finance. I was 19 when my father passed away suddenly at the age of 54. He handled all the family finances. My mother who raised seven children and juggled a part-time job in education regrets she was not actively involved in any financial decisions before she was forced to be by circumstance. For those in a partnership, it is essential that both are involved in the financial planning process so that finance and life goals are aligned, and aren’t facing financial decisions for the first time during times of stress such as the loss of a loved one or divorce.
According to the Retirement Institute, after seven to 14 years, the plan participant working with a financial professional will have 99% more assets than the participant working without a financial professional.4 Financial professionals can help create a roadmap for a holistic financial future including investing for retirement, paying off student loans, life insurance protection, funding children’s education and many other financial needs.
Do Your Research
Become more comfortable with the financial planning process by educating yourself on the basics of finance. Know what assets you have, and what you may have through a spouse/partner or as a beneficiary of other plans.
According to an Equitable survey of K-12 educators, contribution levels were 49% higher for participants who worked with a financial professional early in their career.5
If you have a financial plan, make sure that you revisit your plan regularly. As your life changes so should your plan. For those who are just getting started, small manageable steps go a long way.
Mentor and Lead
Just as you mentor and lead at work, share your financial planning experience and encourage others to be active participants in their own finances. In school districts where leadership supported retirement savings and planning, plan participation rates went up dramatically. This is critical to helping more people reach their retirement goals.
As successful women in leadership roles, we can take the mystery out of financial planning by using the same skills that have helped us thrive in our careers and apply them to our finances.
1,3. Financial Planning: “Advisor’s Dilemma: Women Less Engaged, More Negative Toward Financial Planning,” by Charles Paikert, March 2020
2. Forbes: “U.S Women Outpacing Men in Higher Education, Demographic Trends,” by Alexandre Tanzi, August 2018
4. Retirement Institute “Survey on Increasing Participation Rates,” March 2014
5. Equitable’s “The Value of the Advisor: The Impact of Advisors on Financial Outcomes Among K-12 Educators,” 2018