Resources

Just too good to keep to ourselves

Welcome to our library. We strive to provide resources so that our clients know as much as they wish when it comes to being financially savvy. And it doesn’t stop there! We are part of a larger community – including you, wherever you may be. This is where we share content and tools that are important, fun and even inspiring, with everyone. Our resource vault will help you get smart about money, find your own motivation to move forward, and laugh and breathe a bit easier along the way.

Fiscal Unequals: Finding Common Ground with Family and Friends

Published in: Resources |

What should you do when you’re invited to a trendy new restaurant that is beyond your budget? What if you’re the one who can’t afford the long weekend getaway or high-end vacation?

On the flip side, when you have more resources (perhaps significantly so), do you reach for the check more often than not? How does it work when you’re willing and able to pay more? How do you talk about it?

Both sides of the imbalance are tough. Most of us have been on both sides of the divide. Whether with our friends, family, siblings, adult children or spouses, finding balance when our checkbooks are unequal can be a challenge.

But our relationships transcend all sorts of differences and obstacles — and they can survive fiscal inequality as well.

Identifying Your Values

It’s not about the money; it’s about our underlying values. When we experience fiscal inequality, exploring what matters most is the place to start.

Finding common ground — common financial ground in this case — in a relationship requires understanding what is important to ourselves and listening carefully to understand what is important to the other person.

An Exercise

In a fiscally unequal situation, we are suggesting that we begin not by talking about money, but by reflecting upon and talking about values and identifying what is important.

Let’s go over some scenarios and how we can use our values as a starting point for navigating the situation. In each of the following scenarios, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What matters to you, and what do you think matters to the other person?
  2. How can you express your values in this situation?

We don’t have to be too rigid about it. Try to make “I” statements and try to avoid solving.

Scenario: You and your friend/partner are moving into an apartment together. One of you can afford $800 and the other only $500.  How do you manage this?

Scenario: Your friend has invited you to a destination celebration — all expenses paid. How do you manage this?

Scenario: You have invited your friend to a beach house for the weekend. Does your friend have to be a “good” guest?

Scenario: You and your friend/partner plan to travel together. One of you is high-thread count, the other has a tighter budget. How to you manage this?

Final Question: Think of someone in your life with whom you have a money relationship. Could be anything from a loan, to a friend who buys you lunch, your hairstylist, your children. If you could have a free and open conversation about money, what would you like to say to them?

When we understand what gives the other person meaning and what they value, we can develop empathy and mutual respect. We also need to be able to communicate what we care about, what is important to ourselves. We need to have a clear understanding of what gives ourselves meaning and what our values are.

Personal Power and Positional Power

There is inevitably a power dynamic between fiscal unequals. For a healthier relationship, it is critical for each partner to uncover his or her personal power, and the source of it, in contrast to perceived positional power.

Personal power is a reflection of your internal state. It comes from knowing who we are and what we stand for — what our values are.

Positional power is a reflection of your external state. It is based on external considerations of status, societal expectations, quantitative measurements like how much you own or how much you earn. Positional power is what creates the sense of inequality in a relationship. 

When you are trying to “prove” yourself based on some quantitative, or, external measure (like how much you earn or own), that may be an indication that there is some positional power dynamic going on. But when you express what is important to you, your own personal truth, you and your partner no longer have to “measure up.” This evens out the power dynamic and creates a safer, less adversarial conversation in which you can identify common values and come up with creative solutions.

Define Your Values with The Humphreys Group

The topic of fiscal inequality clearly has a financial component. But as in so many cases, it’s not about the money. It’s important to explore our values so we can better understand each other and communicate more clearly what we care about. To develop empathy and mutual respect within a relationship, we first need to have a clear understanding of what matters most to us. And, of course, to the person across the table.

It’s important to ask more questions, be more curious, and to make fewer assumptions. The other person may have a completely different set of values than we’d expect — and that’s okay. We need to put our solution mindsets on the backburner.

Want to continue the conversation about identifying our values when it comes to money? Reach out to our team today.

Why 401(k) Plans Aren’t Enough to Prepare Women for Retirement

Published in: Resources |

Contributing to a 401(k) has become the primary way most of us save for retirement, and perhaps the most important rule of thumb in finance has become “max out your 401(k) funding!”

But these plans, on their own, are woefully inadequate for financially sustaining retirees throughout their lifetime. Worse yet, they’re especially insufficient for women. We’re sorry to say it, but the conventional notion that a 401(k) plan will set up women for retirement success is a myth.

401(k) Plans, By the Numbers

When we say that 401(k) plans are inadequate, we’re not kidding. Women are 80 percent more likely than men to be impoverished at age 65 and older, and three times more likely to be living in poverty between the ages of 75 and 79.

And while common sense tells us we should counteract this by simply contributing more to our retirement accounts, well, we already are.

A recent Vanguard study found that women are 14 percent more likely to voluntarily participate in a 401(k) plan. We also save more than our male co-workers (7 to 16 percent, depending on the income level), yet still end up with significantly less in our retirement because we earn less than men. While the average male employee enjoys a 401(k) balance of $123,262, the average female employee has only $79,572.

According to Vanguard, the gap in retirement savings essentially disappears after controlling for the income gap, but unfortunately, that won’t happen anytime soon. Experts say we likely won’t see wage equality until at least 2059.

Why Women Are More Vulnerable to Financial Hardship in Retirement

Even if we did live in a perfect world, where we receive equal pay, there are a host of other reasons why women are still more vulnerable to financial hardship in retirement.

  1. Most obviously, we live longer. Life expectancy for women is currently approximately 81 years, compared to 76 years for men. That means we not only have to afford the cost of living for a longer period of time but are also burdened with much higher health care expenses, which increase with age. And because health care costs show no signs of slowing down, younger women will have an even steeper hurdle to jump.
  2. A more insidious factor endangering women’s retirement is our tendency to take on caregiving responsibilities for our families. Women make up two-thirds of all caregivers, and while some are able to balance this responsibility with maintaining their day jobs, they are often forced to take time out of the workforce. Women who quit their jobs to care for children or elderly family members lose an average of $324,000 in wages and benefits over their lifetime. Even if they decide to work part-time instead, they don’t do their retirement savings any favors — part-time employees are rarely eligible to participate in a 401(k) plan.

Even if women do “play by the rules” and diligently contribute to their 401(k) plans, the likelihood they’ll enjoy a worry-free and comfortable retirement remains slim.

Our Advice to You

While it’s easy to view women’s retirement years in bleak terms, there are some small steps we can take today that will change our outcomes for the better. 

Spend some time really visualizing what you expect retirement to look like. Where will you be living? How might your lifestyle change? What will a typical day look like? Answering these questions will inform what exactly you’re saving for — and perhaps it will motivate you to increase your contributions to achieve your goals.

Invest in a reality check. Work with a financial advisor to crunch the numbers to see if you are on track. Armed with your financial data and some well-considered assumptions, you can get a realistic idea of where you stand now and devise a plan to make the course-corrections that work best for you.

If you have access to a 401(k) plan, you should absolutely contribute, at least enough to equal your employer’s matching contributions. But it’s never too soon to start supplementing your savings with a health savings account (HSA), a traditional IRA, or a Roth IRA. If you’re self-employed, consider supplementing with a SEP IRA.

Consider obtaining long-term care insurance, especially if you have a family history that indicates you may experience health challenges later in life. Such policies can be costly, yes, but they can make a world of difference.

Want to learn more about retirement planning? Reach out to The Humphreys Group team today.

Entering Month Six of The Pandemic: A Reflection

Published in: Resources |

As we enter month six of the pandemic, it’s important to reflect on what has changed and what we’ve learned.

On an individual level, our approaches have certainly changed; things that seemed daunting in month one or two are no longer so — but they have been replaced with new challenges, and the need for new strategies.

Here are some things we’ve noticed that have changed:

  • Our spending patterns have changed, and as you would expect, many of us have had dramatic shifts away from travel and entertainment and toward improving the creature comforts of our homes.
  • For many of us, it has become easier to maintain boundaries, based on our own ideas of what we’re willing and unwilling to do, socially. We have become more straightforward, as maintaining one’s boundaries has become more socially acceptable.
  • We also feel more permission to ask questions about another person’s behavior — because that person’s behavior could affect all of us. And while it may seem easier to ask these questions without judgment, some judgment does undoubtedly remain. More than one of us has “confessed” to having done something that may have garnered a sideways glance or raised eyebrow.
  • We’re making decisions — all day, every day — that come down to a risk-reward tradeoff. Whatever we are willing to do (or not do) is based on our core beliefs and the value we place on the reward. Those valuations differ among us, leading to differences of opinion as to what behaviors are “worth it.” Who ever thought diving into the minute logistical details of getting one’s haircut could be so fascinating?

Coping with An Extended Period of Uncertainty, Loss, And Grief

There’s no getting around it, we are all struggling. It is hard to cope with such an extended period of uncertainty, loss, and grief. Whether it’s the pain of seeing your children suffer the loss of their social connections or the sadness of missing family dinners for months on end, we’re all mustering our resilience to get through this extremely challenging time. And one way we can cope is by talking about our experiences in an unvarnished and honest way.

At The Humphreys Group, we regularly host “Insights & Outcomes: Conversation Circles for Women,” a discussion series where participants have authentic conversations about personal finance beyond the numbers. If you want to attend one of our upcoming virtual events, reach out to us today.

The Divorce Gap: What it Is and How We Can Fix it

Published in: Resources |

What is the divorce gap? It’s the income inequality between spouses during the divorce process. Before, during, and after divorce, women end up worse financially. Here are a few key stats:

  • As The Atlantic writes, the main reason women suffer the brunt of divorce’s financial burdens is that during marriage, they are more likely than men to stop working in order to raise kids.
  • Divorce can cost anywhere from $8,500 to $100,000, which many women cannot afford.
  • Ellevest reports that women’s household income falls 41 percent after a divorce — which is more than twice as much as men’s. Women’s credit scores fall more, too.
  • Primary-caregiving moms end up with more expenses and less earning power, Ellevest writes.
  • Women tend to find more financial “surprises” during divorce that they weren’t aware of during the marriage, like high mortgage interest rates on the house, the size of their investment portfolio, or secret accounts.
  • According to a 2017 TD Ameritrade survey, 36 percent of divorced men said they felt financially secure versus 19 percent of divorced women.

Divorce and COVID-19

Many are predicting that there will be a surge in divorces after the COVID-19 crisis is over. (As The New York Times writes, with the unemployment rate at 10.2 percent, the U.S. entering a recession, and working moms adding “part-time teacher” to their list of child-rearing duties, circumstances have been ripe for relationships ending.)

In an Ipsos poll, nearly one in ten married or partnered people said they are likely to separate from their spouse/partner, partly due to issues related to the pandemic.

How We Can Fix Divorce Inequality?

What steps can we take so our finances are not drastically hurt from divorce? At The Humphreys Group, we always talk about the importance of women owning their financial power. One study found that 56 percent of women deferred to their spouse on investment decisions and financial planning. We need to be fully involved in money decisions, have open, honest conversations about finances, and have our own savings.

Divorce is an emotionally and financially difficult experience, and COVID-19 has made it even more so. Contact The Humphreys Group team if you’d like to continue the conversation about financial planning and owning your financial journey.

College During COVID-19: Navigating Difficult Money Conversations

Published in: Resources |

College planning can be a complicated new world for families to figure out. Now, with COVID-19 forever changing the college experience, it’s even more confusing.

Universities and colleges nationwide are all making different individual decisions about reopening. According to the New York Times, more than a quarter of U.S. colleges plan to begin fall instruction fully or mostly online, but many are still opening up their dorms.

Parents and students are having to ask themselves questions that they never thought they would: Is it safe to go back? Can our family even afford college anymore due to COVID-19–related financial strain? Should I go to community college to save money? Should I move on-campus, or stay at home and take classes remotely?

There’s no one good option. Parents and their children may even disagree on what is the best choice. At The Humphreys Group, we always emphasize the importance of having open and honest conversations about money. And so in today’s blog post, we’re sharing six tips on navigating difficult money conversations surrounding college.

Six Tips on Navigating Difficult Money Conversations About College

1. Do your research. Before having a discussion about college plans with your child, understand all the options available. Will their school offer more financial aid? Will housing costs be reduced, or will a housing credit be offered? What student loan options are available? Will their school hold their spot if they take a gap year?

2. Commit to having family financial conversations now. Set a dedicated time to have a conversation about college and finances.

3. Listen. This is a momentous time for your child. Be sure to listen to your child’s perspective, their worries, their questions, and their goals.

4. Start broadly, and then get specific. Have an open and authentic conversation; ensure everyone’s goals and values are understood. After everyone has had time and space to share their thoughts, address the specifics. Look at what financial resources are available and create a plan.

5. Continue the conversation with regular, ongoing dialogue. Family financial conversations are not one-time events. You should revisit your financial situation with your family regularly.

6. Consider outside advice. A financial advisor can be an objective third party in these conversations and help you develop a strategic, comprehensive financial plan.

College Planning with The Humphreys Group

No one expected college to look like this a year ago, but financial planning is all about planning for the unexpected. At The Humphreys Group, we welcome these challenges with a deep commitment to providing you with a comfortable, collaborative setting to explore your concerns and follow your dreams.

Our planning process has a single purpose: to manage your wealth so that you may live fully and confidently. We are devoted to seeing you thrive, both financially and personally. Reach out to us today for more information about college planning with The Humphreys Group.

Dispelling the Myth of the Female Shopaholic

Published in: Resources |

Women have had to deal with the “overindulgent spendthrift” stereotype for ages, and it has led mostly advisors to accept what financial journalist Helaine Olen calls the “Sex and the City approach to female finance.”

The underlying message? Those silly girls run into financial trouble because they buy Jimmy Choo shoes when they should be giving money to Chuck Schwab instead.

But the idea that women spend their money irresponsibly is a myth.

Where the “Shopaholic” Myth Comes From

Why do women have such a notorious reputation for being shopaholics? It’s likely because women do tend to shop more than men — in fact, they’re responsible for 85 percent of overall consumer spending.

But consider the context: Women are almost always the primary caregivers for their loved ones. That means they end up not just buying for themselves but for their kids, spouses, relatives, friends, colleagues, neighbors, mailman, babysitter… you get the picture.

“If somebody, somewhere needs a gift, chances are there’s a woman thinking about it — tracking it down, wrapping it, making sure it’s accompanied by a personal message, and then delivered on the appointed day,” says Bridget Brennan, a leading researcher on female consumers. “I sometimes think entire industries would collapse overnight if women stopped being so thoughtful. Consider the impact to the greeting card industry alone.”

Looking at the Numbers

When women do shop for themselves, they spend more on categories you’d expect, specifically clothing and personal care. Men, on the other hand, splurge more on alcohol, electronics, and car purchases.

In fact, men spend more overall:

Yet somehow, men don’t seem to encounter much criticism about their spending habits — no smirks, no snide comments, no finger-wagging, no latte-shaming.

Own Your Financial Power 

Own Your Financial Power

Society has smugly dismissed women as overindulgent spendthrifts for ages, and it has led most advisors to accept what financial journalist Helaine Olen calls the “Sex and the City approach to female finance.” The underlying message? Those silly girls run into financial trouble because they buy Jimmy Choo shoes when they should be giving money to Charles Schwab instead.We’re sorry we even have to address this stereotype, but it’s so pervasive we’d be remiss not to: The idea that women spend their money irresponsibly is a myth. It's time we got rid of this false narrative. #InvestLikeAWoman #RewritingTheRules

Posted by The Humphreys Group on Thursday, December 5, 2019

 

It’s time we changed the narrative. Don’t be afraid to share the data and your own experience with others. And if you want to learn more about dispelling common money myths, download our free eBook Rewriting the Rules: Telling Truths About Women and Money.

If you’re interested in learning more about impact investing, reach out to our team today.

An Explainer on Our Approach to ESG Investing and Company Screening

Published in: Resources |

You’ve decided you want to get involved with impact investing — you want your investments to have a positive, measurable social and environmental impact, while also having a financial return.

You’ve reached out to The Humphreys Group to get started with impact investing. So what can you expect in the process? We give a general outline of our process in today’s blog post.

Impact Investing with The Humphreys Group: What You Can Expect

When you show an interest in investing in socially responsible/value-based funds, we will provide you with an ESG questionnaire that helps you think through your values.

This questionnaire includes several issue topics such as:

  • Alcohol (whether a company has more or less involvement in the alcohol industry)
  • Animal testing (whether or not a company uses animals in testing pharmaceutical and/or non-pharmaceutical products)
  • Community investment/relations (the extent to which a company is involved in charitable programs, support for education, housing, and other community-based programs)
  • Diversity (whether a company has more or less women and minority board members)
  • Employment equity (evaluation of issues such as health and safety, union relations, profit sharing, and employee involvement)
  • Environment (whether a company has strong or weak environmental performance and trends)
  • Firearms (whether a company is involved in firearms and ammunition manufacturing)
  • Gambling (whether a company is involved in the gambling industry)
  • Renewable energy (extent to which a company’s products foster renewable energy sources, research, and development)

In these materials, you’ll be able to rate each social concern to indicate the level of importance to you, describe your stance on each issue, and mention any other concerns.

From this questionnaire, we can identify which ESG funds best align with your values.

How Does Each ESG Fund Screen the Companies They Invest In?

Here is how each ESG fund we offer — such as the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Leadership Fund, the Pax Global Environmental Markets Fund, Dimensional Fund Advisors’ Social Investment Funds, and Dimensional Fund Advisors’ Sustainability Funds — determines which companies make the cut. Note: We invest in a wide range of ESG funds from a group of ESG investment firms. These are some examples, but they don’t represent the full breadth of what we offer.

1. The Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Leadership Fund:

The Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Leadership Fund was the first broadly diversified global mutual fund to invest in the highest-rated companies in the world for advancing women through gender-diverse boards, senior leadership teams, and other policies and practices. The Fund invests in companies that understand the value of gender-diverse leadership teams.

How companies make the cut:

  • Representation of women on the board of directors
  • Representation of women in executive management
  • Hiring, promotion, and retention of women
  • Gender pay equity
  • Proactive gender goals and targets and/or signatory to the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), a joint initiative of the UN Global Compact and UN Women
  • Transparency about gender diversity data

2. The Pax Global Environmental Markets Fund:

The Pax Global Environmental Markets Fund invests in companies that are developing innovative solutions to resource challenges in the four key areas of new energy; water; waste and resource recovery; and sustainable food, agriculture, and forestry.

How companies make the cut:

  • The Fund chooses companies in increasingly important global environmental markets, companies focused on resource efficiency, and companies providing environmental solutions and net carbon reductions.

3. Dimensional Fund Advisors’ Social Investment Funds:

Dimensional’s social investment funds enable investors to pursue higher expected returns across stock and bond markets while maintaining alignment with social priorities and philosophies.

How companies make the cut:

  • Generally, the funds will seek to exclude securities of firms engaged in contentious activities relating to health care matters, alcohol and tobacco, gambling, adult entertainment, indiscriminate antipersonnel weapons, and human and/or labor rights. Their social funds exclude individual securities issued by companies that are involved in controversial activities while preserving investors’ ability to pursue higher expected returns across stocks and bonds.
  • Historically, the screens established for Dimensional’s social funds have taken into account the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines, among other factors.
  • Dimensional utilizes leading third-party firms that provide detailed screening criteria. Where appropriate, they may use multiple vendors to ensure depth and transparency in our social screening.
  • They apply screens across both equity and fixed income strategies. They generally evaluate companies holistically; if any subsidiary fails one of their screens, that subsidiary and all other subsidiaries and the parent entity are excluded.

4. Dimensional Fund Advisors’ Sustainability Funds:

Dimensional’s approach seeks to address the sustainability issues important to investors while continuing to offer broad diversification and focus on higher expected returns.

How companies make the cut:

  • Sustainability considerations include greenhouse gas emissions intensity, land use and biodiversity, toxic spills and releases, operational waste, water management, and other considerations.
  • When applying sustainability considerations, companies can be rated or scored on certain sustainability-focused metrics. With a sustainability score assigned to each company across all major sectors, investment in companies with high environmental sustainability scores can be emphasized while investment in companies with low scores can be minimized or excluded.
  • Additional screens can be applied to reduce exposure to companies negatively connected with other issues important to sustainability-minded investors.

Get Started with Impact Investing

If you’re interested in learning more about impact investing, reach out to our team today.

How to Improve Your Financial Literacy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Published in: Resources |

The financial literacy gap between men and women is from structural, systemic and societal inequalities and barriers over time. (One example: It wasn’t until 1974 — with the passage of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act — that women won a legal right to apply for credit cards separate from their husbands.)

Why the Financial Literacy Gap Is So Important

The financial literacy gap — also known as the  “secondary gender wage gap” — is so important because without financial literacy, women can’t build their wealth. They feel less confident being in control of the household finances, and this becomes an even bigger issue when their spouse passes away or if they go through a divorce. Women also may feel less confident about investing in the stock market. And women already earn less than men — without the financial knowledge about investing, they are at even more of a disadvantage.

Other financial hindrances? Women tend to live longer than men, which can make them financially insecure during retirement. Women are also often expected to leave the workforce during their high-earning years to take care of their children or aging parents. The COVID-19 global health and economic crisis, and how it has disproportionately affected women, has further underscored these issues.

Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Financial Literacy

Now that we know what we’re up against and understand why it’s so important to arm ourselves with financial knowledge, what steps can we take that are in our control?

  1. Listen to podcasts and books about personal finance. You don’t have to read a dense tome about finance. Listen or read something that you would enjoy.
  2. Find out what financial wellness programs are available at your workplace. Many employers offer workshops and programs on financial topics, such as understanding your 401(k), health savings accounts (HSAs), and flexible spending accounts (FSAs).
  3. Research financial advisors. As we say at The Humphreys Group, it’s not just about the numbers. Find a financial advisor who you feel comfortable with and can connect with.
  4. Attend a Conversation Circle. The Humphreys Group regularly hosts Conversation Circles where we have authentic conversations about money. Let us know if you’d like to join us at our next one!
  5. Talk about money with your family and friends. We as a society are conditioned to not talk about money. But money affects everything in our lives — why should something so pivotal in our lives be taboo to talk about? Have an honest conversation with your family and/or friends about money. As CNBC Make It suggests, host an event and 1. invite friends who are comfortable around each other, 2. set expectations ahead of time, 3. have topics ready (but let the conversation flow naturally), 4. ask questions, and 5. be open to new perspectives.

Continue the Conversation About Financial Literacy with The Humphreys Group

The Humphreys Group is passionate about empowering women in their finances and giving them the tools and resources they need to succeed. If you’d like to continue the conversation about financial education, reach out to our team today.

The Importance of Impact Investing

Published in: Resources |

The global COVID-19 crisis, social unrest, and economic inequality have highlighted how connected we all are and how deeply we need more efficient systems.

This is where impact investing — also known as SRI (socially responsible investing), ESG (environmental, social, governance), sustainable investing, or socially screened investing — comes in. While impact investing is not new, investors are now starting to fully understand its significance. Investors want to make a difference in the world with the capital they are investing.

Impact Investing By the Numbers

Supporting a sustainable future is not only good for the world — it’s good for your wallet. There’s a common perception that by investing in sustainable companies, you pay a price for more “moral” investments — but data suggests that sustainable investments are actually financially rewarding. Here are a few key stats:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic crashed the market, yet sustainable investments performed better than their counterparts during the first quarter of 2020. According to BlackRock, investment funds tracking the performance of companies with better ratings on ESG issues lost less money than those including worse performers in 94 percent of cases during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Last year, shares of the 100 companies on Barron’s America’s Most Sustainable Companies” list had average returns of 34.3 percent, while the S&P 500 had 31.5 percent.
  • 2019 saw a total of 479 green bonds issued worldwide, up by a quarter compared to the previous year. 2020 is set to be a “bumper” year for green bonds.
  • According to Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN)’s 2020 Annual Impact Investor Survey, the global impact investing market is estimated at $715 billion.
  • For the past one-, three-, and five-year periods, ESG stock and allocation fund strategies lost less money than non-ESG funds during market declines and displayed less volatility, Morningstar reports.
  • According to a Nuveen study of high-net-worth investors and financial advisors, 54 percent said they would invest their entire retirement balance into a responsible investment portfolio.

But the push for impact investing is not just about potential returns: As The Business Times notes, people worldwide want companies to reduce their impact and are becoming more aware of the role that financial institutions play when it comes to creating a sustainable future.

For instance, the movements Fridays for Future and Extinction Rebellion demand action from political and business leaders. And as Barron’s writes, “How a company treats essential workers has become a measure of how responsible it is. … Then came the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, and the widespread protests about police brutality and inequitable treatment of people of color. Top-level executives, who once took a hands-off approach to such issues, began speaking out.”

Employees also want to work for businesses that put sustainability as one of its core values. As we’re seeing, impact investing is not just a fad — it’s an investment strategy that is here to stay for the long-term.

Interested in Impact Investing? Reach Out to The Humphreys Group Team Today

The Humphreys Group supports the increased interest in investing to promote social good. It’s one of the most effective ways we can vote with our dollars. Many of our clients are invested in ESG funds, such as the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Leadership Fund, the Pax Global Environmental Markets Fund, Dimensional Fund Advisors’ Social Investment Funds, and Dimensional Fund Advisors’ Sustainability Funds. If you’re interested in learning more about impact investing, reach out to our team today for additional fact sheets and materials.

The Idea that Women Need “Extra Help” Understanding Their Finances is a Myth

Published in: Resources |

For 20 years, Annamaria Lusardi, an Italian-born economist and researcher, has been testing people all over the world on their financial knowledge. She has become especially well-known for constructing a financial literacy test composed of three basic questions on inflation, diversification, and compound interest. Unfortunately, only about 30 percent of Americans could answer all of them correctly. Even more alarming, however, is a sizeable gender gap: While 38 percent of men provided the correct answer to all three questions, only 22 percent of women did the same.

Research like this has fueled a newfound crusade within the financial services industry to educate women on their finances. While we submit that the gender gap in financial literacy exists, let us be clear: The idea that women need extra help understanding their finances is a myth.

A key reason why women performed worse than men on Lusardi’s financial literacy test? They disproportionately answered the test questions with “do not know.” To determine if this was truly the result of a lack of understanding, Lusardi and her research team decided to remove “do not know” as an answer option. When they did, women’s correct responses increased significantly. In fact, Lusardi estimates that half of the gap was the result of women underestimating their own knowledge!

An Unfair Advantage: The Correlation Between Financial Knowledge and Wealth

While this simple change sheds light on how often women underestimate themselves, it did not eliminate the gender gap entirely — which means that yes, men still do appear to have more financial knowledge than women. But it’s not because women are less capable of understanding financial concepts; it’s because they’re rarely given the opportunity to learn about them in the first place.

Across the world, those with the most financial knowledge are also the most wealthy — and it turns out men are significantly wealthier than women.  As a result, a college-educated man is 45 percent more likely to understand diversification than a low-income woman with less than a high school education.  And because financial literacy is a major predictor of behaviors that accumulate money (like investing in the stock market), this lack of knowledge only exacerbates economic disparities.

Where the Financial Services Industry Gets It Wrong

The financial services industry views this disparity as an opportunity to “swoop in and rescue” women from the unfortunate situation in which they find themselves. Advisors cite less financial education, a longer life span, and lower salaries as evidence that women need help understanding and managing their money, and proudly present themselves as the solution. Large firms, eager to build their clientele, now offer internal workshops on how to deliver “female-friendly” financial advice, complete with patronizing sales pitches. And a new flock of financial gurus have now made a living off of selling books that are unhelpful at best, and sexist at worst.

Women Are Taking Initiative and Fixing the Financial Literacy Gap Themselves

Fortunately, women already know they need to learn more about money and are taking it upon themselves to fix it. Financial wellness programs have seen an encouraging uptick in female participants in recent years. In 2014, Financial Finesse found that women completed two-thirds of their financial evaluations, up from one-half three years before.

Many instructors have also observed that women’s willingness to seek out financial education makes them easy to teach compared to men, who are usually less likely to admit what they don’t understand. And we’re already seeing the gap closing across generations: A recent study found that the financial literacy gap between genders for those under age 35 is much smaller than the general population. Women are taking initiative, proving they do not need to be coddled and cajoled into understanding their finances.

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Of course, because this problem is largely rooted in systemic issues, many argue that education alone won’t make the financial literacy gap disappear.

This is certainly true — rather, large-scale economic change would make a huge difference in helping women become more educated about money.

But for now, we can move the needle by focusing on what we can control and take financial literacy into our hands. If you’d like to learn more about common money myths and how we can dispel them, download our free eBook Rewriting the Rules: Telling Truths About Women and Money.