Discussing financial issues is quite often a difficult expedition into interpersonal issues. It has been said, for instance, that many parents have an easier time talking with their college age children about sex than they do about financial issues. As we continue to explore unique challenges for women transitioning through divorce, our third article of this series speaks to one of the biggest obstacles to women’s financial confidence in and out of the divorce arena – our unique language and learning style. Although we have made great advancements in the financial world, breaking career barriers and impacting industry markets, there are innate areas where women will almost always be different than men and these affect our ability to build financial confidence especially after a divorce.
Let’s consider the world of financial information – and the language it speaks to the attentive masses who, quite without accident, are mostly men. Turn on a cable news channel devoted to financial coverage and you may, just for a minute, confuse the detail presentation to a sports channel format: a noisy stream of prices (scores) across the bottom, split screen talking heads predicting winners and losers, and animal mascots everywhere – bulls, bears, and sharks, oh my. Men are naturally wired to be hunters and competitors while women tend to prefer collaboration and consensus. It is no wonder this type of financial information tends to speak to men, loud and clear!
If the sound and look of the information isn’t designed to be attractive to women, the topics of discussion in financial news coverage tend to focus far away from issues important to women. Studies have shown that reports focused on wealth building and rates of return appeal to men. It is not that women do not care about wealth building, for instance, but the language they use to discuss this type of strategy is usually focused on providing for the family or “how will things work out?”; it may be the same overall goal but it is a completely different way of speaking about it. As a woman transitions to independence post-divorce, it may not be surprising that the marital financial advisor relationship went to the husband; they probably spoke the same language!
All women need to recognize the importance of finding a trusted advisor who reflects their style of financial dialogue. Hopefully, this will be an advisor who believes client education is crucial and who builds a non-threatening environment for clients to move toward independent decision making. With specific training in, and experience with, divorce, clients working with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst like myself should feel satisfied with the level of understanding they achieve before making long term decisions for their future independence. An advisor who understands the gap between how financial information is available and how women prefer learning can be invaluable. I like to say I speak fluent financial with a female accent, something my clients can truly understand and appreciate!
Carrie D. Wilson, CFP®, CDFA™
- 2006 Allianz Women, Money, and Power Study Focus Groups and nationwide online survey conducted by Larson Research and Strategy
- 2007 Allianz Women, Money, and Power Study Phase II
Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through NFP Securities, Inc. (NFPSI), Member FINRA/SIPC. Divorce Financial Help is not affiliated with Clark, Waters & Hardy, LLC.
NFPSI is not affiliated with either Divorce Financial Help or Clark, Waters & Hardy, LLC.