Find out why demographic trends and shared personality characteristics make women over 50 the ideal clients for financial advisors.
#NowMe Episode 1: Advising Women Over 50
Ms. Walker: This is #NowMe, a podcast for financial advisors who advise women. Hello, this is Hollis Walker with Jan Blakeley Holman, director of advisor education for Thornburg Investment Management. And this is #NowMe, a podcast for financial advisors who advise women. Jan what makes you qualified to advise advisors on how to work best with their women clients?
Ms. Holman: In March I’m going to be starting my 45th year in the industry, and during that time I’ve seen women’s involvement in financial services industry, both from the advisory side, and the client’s side grow phenomenally. So, I tend to be interested in what’s happening with women, and I tend to think that women have some special issues and needs that advisors have to be aware of.
Ms. Walker: And why do you think that women’s financial wellness is so important right now?
Ms. Holman: Well, actually, it’s not right now. It’s why has it always been important, but it’s more important than it’s ever been because of the amount of money that’s coming into women’s hands. There are estimates that indicate by 2028 women will control about 75 percent of the world’s discretionary income, and by 2030 that women are going to have 66 percent of America’s wealth. So, if the wealth is in the hands of women or men, but whichever gender, they need to be financially literate, and that’s what’s really important right now.
Ms. Walker: So, do women start from a place of disadvantage from men when it comes to investment information?
Ms. Holman: Well, if you just think about socialization, many of us were socialized to believe that we don’t know math. We don’t know numbers. We’re not supposed to take care of the money, and those types of things, that was a “man’s job”. Now, I think that’s different for Gen X and for millennial women, but for baby boomer women, and certainly women who are older than baby boomers, that was really how we were supposed to approach finances. Now, the issue related to that is this. If a woman is in a traditional marriage, typically her spouse is going to die before she will. So, if a woman has been distant from the financial decision making, and all of a sudden, she’s responsible for it, that’s problematic.
Ms. Walker: Well, what about the fact that women aren’t paid as much as men, typically? Or that they have different lifestyles? Doesn’t that affect the way they invest?
Ms. Holman: Well, it sure does. I mean, you now, being able to have discretionary income to be able to invest in retirement plans and that type of thing, is really important, and the fact that many women work a shorter work life because they have been responsible for raising children, or caring for elderly parents, that comes into the situation too.
Ms. Walker: So, tell me, where did you come up with this podcast title, #NowMe?
Ms. Holman: Because I think it’s time. It’s the right time for advisors to understand that their women clients need to know they have to focus on themselves, and on their finances, and on their knowledge of finances and investments.
Ms. Walker: Okay, but aren’t all financial investments non-specific when it comes to gender?
Ms. Holman: Totally. If you look at investments, or investment products as some people call them, yes, there are not mutual funds for men, mutual funds for women. There may be mutual funds where it focuses on women who are on boards, or that type of thing. But investments are not gender specific. How we make decisions, and how we view things is gender specific issue, or opportunity.
Ms. Walker: So, explain that. What do you mean by that?
Ms. Holman: Well, you know Terry Odean and Brad Barber, they’re from the University of California, Davis. At the beginning of the 21st Century, so about 2000, 2001, they did a study, and they did a study of online accounts, and what they did was they separated accounts with accounts that were obviously men’s accounts, and accounts that were obviously women’s accounts, and they compared some things like the activity in the account and that type of thing. What they found was that men traded their accounts 45 percent more often than women. So, women tend to stay invested longer. Women also, as clients, and many advisors listening to this know, they tend to want more information before they’re going to make a decision. Even if they are very, very knowledgeable, studies have shown that women don’t have confidence, that they necessarily know what they need to know to make good financial decisions.
Ms. Walker: And what about the news? How does the news affect things? I mean there are a lot of big issues going on in the world right now. We’re facing the 2020 election. The Coronavirus is in the headlines. The issues with trade, especially with China. Should we be paying attention to the news when we make investment decisions?
Ms. Holman: The news, for investors the news is your worst enemy. Let me give you an example. I was doing a client event for an advisor in Colorado Springs about a year ago, and after I spoke, one of the women asked you know, the market was particularly volatile then, and she said, “I was at a breakfast for one of my friends who turned 80 this morning, and all we talked about was when to get out of the market. And she said, “When should I get out of the market?” And I said, “Well, do you have an emergency fund? You know, some dollars that are available in case something happens?” And she said yes. And I said, “Well, talk to your financial advisor about this, but you should not get out of the market because of what the news is, or what’s happening today in the market.” The thing about investing is that it’s simple, but it’s not easy, because the challenge of investing is remaining invested. All of the things that are news are things that will prevent us from remaining invested.
Ms. Walker: And they’re ephemeral. They change so often. Ms. Holman: Absolutely.
Ms. Walker: Yeah.
Ms. Holman: You know, there’s still people, Hollis, who got out of the market in 2007, 2008, 2009 who haven’t gotten back into the market yet.
Ms. Walker: And they’ve lost some money presumably? Ms. Holman: They have lost opportunity like crazy.
Ms. Walker: I’m gonna throw you a curveball here. We’re talking to advisors who advise women.
Ms. Holman: Right.
Ms. Walker: Isn’t there sort of a fine line that advisors have to follow in order to educate their clients, and not offend them at the same time?
Ms. Holman: Well, yes. I mean, and I think that’s the advisor’s attitude obviously. If the advisor asks his client, “Are there things that you want to understand better? What do you want to learn about? What kind of information is of interest to you?” Then the client can give them answers to those questions, and the advisor can provide avenues for education for her, assuming that your client is financially illiterate probably isn’t a great way to approach it. Assuming that she might want information is a better way to approach it.
Ms. Walker: So, let’s back it up to the news we were talking about, and paying attention to the news. How that’s not a good idea. Is there any news that women should be paying attention to when it comes to their investments?
Ms. Holman: Well, there is news, and actually the news that she should be paying attention to probably hasn’t been something that’s been in the headlines. It’s not super dramatic. I mean, it’s going to make a difference probably, in investors’ lives, in her life, but it’s not as dramatic as some of the things that are going on in the world, and that is something called the SECURE Act that was passed by the Congress in a bi-partisan way at the end of last year, and essentially what that does is it updates some of the rules relative to retirement, and, you know, here, I’ll give you a couple of points that are in the SECURE Act. First of all, it raises the age for minimum distributions from 70 ½ to 72. Now, why that’s important is because it gives investors the opportunity to remain invested for longer before they have to start taking money out and get taxed.
Ms. Walker: That could be really important to women because if I’ve spent time out of the market, or out of making deposits to my IRA because maybe I was home taking care of the kids, or whatever, now I’ve got a little extra time to put more money in.
Ms. Holman: True. Another one is that there’s an elimination of an age limit for making contributions to IRAs. It used to be that you could only make contributions until you were 70. Now this is a hat tipping, I think, to the fact that we’re all living longer. So, investors can now, if they’re actively employed, continue to make contributions to their IRA regardless of their age. The third piece is that there is an elimination of something we call the stretch IRA. Now this may not necessarily feel beneficial to clients, investors, and especially women because it has to do with how you treat IRAs that were distributed at someone’s death. So, if you were the beneficiary of an IRA, you’re going to have to essentially empty that IRA within 10 years. And finally, there’s some new twists in what employers can offer, and whether or not employees can participate in employer plans. So, why this is important to women is this. First of all, women have to be aware of how retirement dollars fit into their income when they are not working anymore. How they can access that money, what the taxation of that money is, and how the money that’s not being accessed should remain invested. So, having an opportunity after years. I think the last tax change, or the retirement tax law change we saw was in 1997, believe it or not. So, after years, a couple of decades, advisors can now go back to their clients and talk about something new on the retirement front.
Ms. Walker: And that sounds really important.
Ms. Holman: It is very important. You know the thing about retirement, Hollis, is that when our parents worked, their companies took care of them. They put money away in a pension. You know, our parents – I remember my father working for a company for 40 years, and when he retired, he got a pension. Mind you, it wasn’t a lot of money, but he got a pension, and in the ‘70s and ‘80s companies decided they didn’t want to be in the business of taking care of their employees for the rest of their lives. So, all of the responsibility was pushed from the employers to us, and retirement plans are a huge part of how we plan for our future.
Ms. Walker: Thanks Jan. That’s all the time we have today. You’ve been listening to #NowMe, with me, your host Hollis Walker, and Jan Blakeley Holman, Director of Advisor Education at Thornburg Investment Management. If you’d like to send us a comment, or an idea for a topic, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s email@example.com. And I think our conversation, Jan is going to segue right into next week’s topic just perfectly. We’ll be talking about women over 50.
Ms. Holman: That’s right, and that’s an interesting group of women to be working with. A lot of money in that group, a lot of challenges, and it makes it unique for financial advisors.
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