The New Demographics


Women Are Feeling Great About Everything… Except Money

Post-pandemic, many approach wealth-management with ‘fear of the unknown’

by Lorna Kapusta

Ms. Kapusta is Fidelity’s Head of Women & Engagement. Visit www.fidelity.com
.



Adjusting to life today is no easy feat. So much has changed, including how we work, communicate, and socialize. Economic uncertainty and the rising cost of living add more financial challenges by the day. Inflation is at a level not seen in four decades, prices for essentials like groceries are skyrocketing and mortgage rates have nearly doubled over the past year. Despite these uncertain times, there are a few bright spots that indicate many of us are making strides forward and a few opportunities for advisors to help investors tackle financial challenges along the way.

Improving Outlooks… Except With Money

According to a study[1] conducted by Fidelity, compared to 2021, most women feel better about nearly every aspect of their lives. Collectively, they have a more positive outlook on their careers, relationships, caregiving responsibilities—even the impact of the pandemic. There is one notable exception to all the optimism—it’s how women feel about money. According to that same study, nearly half of women say their outlook on the economy has worsened over the past year, with high inflation and the cost of essential goods weighing heavily on most minds. Gen Z women are stressed about the cost of education and paying off their student loans. Often, the anxiety and uncertainty we all feel about money and our finances is based on the fear of the unknown. This uncertainty provides an opportunity for advisors to move up the value stack by reinforcing best practices and sharing knowledge. These tools can make money work harder for your clients, help them plan for the long term, and help you increase the ways you provide value and differentiate your firm.

Making Smart Money Moves

When the financial outlook is bleak, cutting expenses seems to be the easy answer. More than half of women say they’ve cut down on non-essential expenses over the past year. Women are scaling back on travel, postponing major purchases and are putting more money into savings. Many are working toward paying down debt or focusing on building an emergency fund. Women also expressed an interest in learning more about reenergizing their long-term financial goals. They want to better understand how to save, how to create and use a budget and how to manage debt. While cutting back on spending is a step toward achieving financial wellness, there’s more that can be done to help clients feel less anxious, help their money work harder and enjoy life with less financial stress. One way to do that is through investing and showing them how they can make their money work for them in a way that serves them well into the future. And if your clients need a nudge to talk more frankly about their finances, providing third-party resources and platforms to help spark conversations about money like Women Talk Money[2]—Fidelity’s community for women, by women—may be a helpful place to start.

Gen Z AND Millenials Lead The Way

Younger generations of women (aged 18 to 35 years old) are already investing. Half of that group who were surveyed shared that they have recently started investing or are planning to start this year. A quarter of Gen Z women say they are interested in learning more about improving their money mindset, such as how to overcome spending guilt or break bad habits. Overall, young women (18-35) show more confidence about managing their money than prior generations. This group of women is investing much earlier in life as well—nearly a decade before women 36 and above got started with investing. This is important for advisors who may want to consider engaging with female clients earlier on than they may have engaged with previous generations.

Unlocking Career Flexibility

Overall, young women (18-35) show more confidence about managing their money than prior generations. This group of women is investing much earlier in life as well—nearly a decade before women 36 and above got started with investing...

When meeting with female clients, it should be top of mind for advisors that the pandemic led to a major shift in how women think about work. From 2020-2021, millions of women exited the workforce citing feeling overworked, poor management and a poor cultural fit as the top three reasons. For the women who stayed in their roles, the majority say they are satisfied with flexibility at work (80%) and their work-life balance (77%). And most women (84%) believe they can succeed in their jobs. There is still room for growth, particularly when it comes to salaries and promotions. Even though women feel they can succeed in their workplace, advocating for themselves is still a real struggle. While slightly more than 50% of women reveal they understand how to negotiate with their employers, a whopping 85% of working women don’t plan to ask for a raise or promotion in the next year.

There is however, one encouraging statistic—when women do negotiate, the overwhelming majority (83%) get at least some of what they asked for. And it’s not always about money. Paid time off, flexible schedules, and remote working are all major priorities for many women, especially when considering a new job. In fact, due to the experience of living through a pandemic, work-life balance is now not only sought out by many households but demanded.

Stress And Burnout Remain Prevalent

Even though most women surveyed say they have a favorable outlook on their career and personal life, burnout persists. Most women (60%) are satisfied with their physical health and are enjoying their relationships with family and friends (71%). But the numbers drop when it comes to mental health. Barely half of women feel positive about their emotional well-being. Overall, only a third are comfortable talking about mental health in the workplace and a mere 14% of women believe their employers offer adequate support. The challenges of coping with stress are no different for younger women. Only one-in-three Gen Z and Millennial working women say they have the resources to manage burnout, compared to half of Boomer women. Many are turning to friends and partners for support or advice. This information is critical for advisors to be mindful of as they work to provide holistic financial guidance and support to their clients.

The Post Pandemic Path Forward

In this new hybrid environment that asks more of women every day, finding resources to help lessen that stress is crucial to maintaining physical and mental health as well as financial well-being. Increasingly, women are showing more confidence when it comes to their money and taking the initiative to master their finances. Whether it’s working, caregiving, homeschooling, or household management–women have been at the center and have shown collectively, they are strong and resilient. As key contributors to families and society, women will continue to be challenged with tough choices personally, professionally and financially. With the right guidance, tools and resources, women can be confident that, no matter what happens in the months ahead, their financial future looks hopeful and bright.

 

 

 

[1] https://newsroom.fidelity.com/press-releases/news-details/2022/Fidelity-Study-Finds-More-Than-Half-of-Women-Are-Taking-Control-of-Their-Money-in-the-Near-Term-but-Inflation–Emergency-Fund-Worries-Prompt-Them-to-Seek-Support/default.aspx
[2] https://www.instagram.com/womentalkmoney/