How Women Can Be More Confident With Investing

How Women Can Be More Confident With Investing

Our very own Sally Brandon launches a weekly column with the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch website. This week’s inaugural column focuses on how women can become more confident with investing.

When it comes to investing, it’s no secret that women aren’t as confident as men. Studies, polls and surveys consistently show that men are, by and large, confident in their financial prowess, while most women aren’t.

It isn’t that women aren’t plenty smart and accomplished. In fact, they account for about half of the U.S. workforce and they’re the primary breadwinner, if not the only one, in 40% of households with children.

Increasingly, women are in charge at home and at the office. But when it comes to making investment decisions, they often sit back and let their spouse do the driving.

Why? According to a 2015 Fidelity survey, it comes down to confidence and knowledge — or a lack of both. Of the women surveyed, 92% want to learn more about financial planning, while 75% want to learn more about investing. And another 83% plan to take a more hands-on approach with their finances over the next year.

In the dark

Women investors clearly want the information; we just don’t always ask for it. In the Fidelity survey, 65% of respondents said they were less likely to talk about financial matters with friends or family than other potentially sensitive topics, such as health or work issues. Talking about money may still be considered taboo, but without information you’re in the dark.

The possibility of the unexpected is what motivated one of my clients to take charge. Like many women, she had over the years allowed her husband to steer their investment decisions.

As a result, she didn’t know much about their financial situation — how much they had in savings or how their money was invested — and she was concerned about what might happen if her husband passed away suddenly. So she decided it was time to ask questions and get educated.

Here’s the thing: At some point in their lives, 90% of women will be on their own. So it’s critical to have at least a basic understanding of how to invest and manage your money.

Building knowledge

Here are just a few ways to build your knowledge — and boost your confidence:

  • Read, read, read: Whether you go online or to the nearest bookstore, reading is one of the best ways to beef up your knowledge base. There are hundreds of books out there that cover everything from the ABCs of investing to more specific topics on women and money. Online, there are plenty of blogs and websites that explain financial terminology and different investment vehicles in approachable, no-nonsense ways.
  • Join an investment group: Some women opt for a learn-as-you-go approach by starting or joining an investment group. Not only does it give you the opportunity to research companies and invest cooperatively, but it also provides you with an instant discussion group where you can bring up any investment concerns or questions.
  • Attend a seminar: Many companies, community centers and continuing education programs offer workshops or seminars on investing, saving and financial management.
  • Find a professional: My client felt comfortable enough to pick up the phone and call me with her concerns. That’s a benefit of working with a financial planner or investment adviser you trust. Look for someone who listens well and explains everything — from compounding to index funds to fees — to your satisfaction.

The more you learn, the more confident and empowered you’ll be to take an active role in managing your financial future. Besides, you’ll really enjoy the view from the front seat.