Tag: personal wealth

Why Women Are Natural Long-Term Investors

Published in: Blog |

Many of us have heard the expression, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” when faced with adjusting our attitudes to meet a long-term challenge. We at The Humphreys Group have been thinking how these words also apply to individuals and couples who aim to develop winning, long-term financial plans, and to female investors in particular.

Consider the notable lesson learned from participants in the 2018 Boston Marathon, where more women literally “went the distance” than men and gained the attention of multiple observers for doing so. Female participants — in one of the most grueling and well-known 26.2 mile races in the United States — lasted longer and finished in greater numbers when bad weather led to increasingly challenging course conditions; just 3.8 percent of women dropped from the race, compared to 5 percent of male runners.

The stamina of female marathoners did not go unnoticed. Shortly after the race, The New York Times ran an opinion piece by Lindsey Crouse, a runner and NYT senior staff editor, who asserted the idea (and added related links) that women have the capacity to withstand both physical challenges and mental stresses for long periods of time — in some cases much longer than men.

In an article for Business Insider several months later, Shana Lebowitz explored the theory that women may be more driven to complete a race as their end goal, whereas men tend to want to win a race above all else. Drawing a connection between women’s racing mindset and other areas where women exhibit an attitude that relies on mental staying power, she noted: “And the implications of this gender difference go beyond marathons, or athletic prowess.”

Backing up Lebowitz’s observation are those who’ve examined the possible relationship between gender and financial investing traits. Some writers have noted differences between women and men when it comes to money-related decisions and provide evidence that women investors exhibit marathon-like behaviors when it comes to investing: they make steady choices that will result in bigger long-term financial gains and stability, and react to setbacks with less stress and emotion that men.

Others assert that the concerns some women voice about their supposed lack of investing abilities are not strongly supported. MarketWatch emphasizes that, despite professing lower levels of confidence in their investing abilities and exhibiting more risk-averse tendencies when it comes to investing, women generally possess the characteristics of solid long-term investors.

The 2020 Boston Marathon is still months away. We can’t predict April’s weather conditions, but everyone who persists toward that finish line is a winner in our book. In the spirit of those who are preparing to travel a lengthy course — including a financial one — we encourage you to contact The Humphreys Group to see how we can help you stay on track and go the distance with your investment strategy.

How to Cope with the Emotional Impact of an Inheritance

Published in: Blog |

Many of us would like to believe otherwise, but our experience and research at The Humphreys Group shows that a person’s feelings and attitudes about money can affect their approach to financial planning. We’ve also seen how emotions may exert an even stronger influence on those who’ve received an inheritance; in response, we offer our clients several strategies to help them navigate the choices and decisions that arise from inheriting a financial gift.

  • Take time – time to grieve, to remember and to appreciate the person from whom you’ve received your inheritance. Allow yourself to adjust to new life circumstances that the person’s passing, and their gift, may cause. Don’t rush toward decisions without processing your emotions.
  • Begin to assess your financial situation when you feel emotionally ready. Review your debts, your dreams and your goals. Consider how your inheritance may help you address these.
  • Consult with trusted family members about your possible next steps. Will you use your inheritance to pay your debts down (or off)? Will you set aside funds for a child or grandchild’s education? Will you put money toward retirement? Will you direct monies toward a charity? Will you use some of the funds to travel? Explore some combination of these or other potential courses of action.
  • Work with a financial advisor to develop a long-term financial plan for making the most of your inheritance. You should also meet with your accountant and attorney to fully understand the ramifications — for instance, taxes and legal issues — related to your inheritance.
  • Resolve to review your plan, with both family members and professional advisors, on a regular basis. Checking in with these parties from time to time will help ensure that you are thoughtfully and clearly making the most of the empowering gift that an inheritance can be.

At The Humphreys Group, we realize money is an emotional issue for many people. We also know that receiving an inheritance while dealing with the passing of a loved one can heighten the emotionally-charged stakes of managing individual and/or household finances. We have the knowledge and expertise to offer assurances and strategies on how to approach financial planning in light of an inheritance. Contact our advisors today to begin the conversation.

Your Estate Plan and Your Children: What to Say and When

Published in: Blog |

We know conversations about finances and estate planning have great potential to be an “elephant in the room” for many of us, especially when it comes to conversations between aging adults and their grown children. Data from a TIAA study in 2017 showed between 75%-85% of parents and children consider financial discussions very important, but only 11% of parents and 37% of adult children were likely to initiate talk about money and estate matters.

And when families do talk about money matters? Only 9% of parents felt their conversation was very detailed, perhaps due to another statistic: 90% of parents and 70% of children said conversations about their parents’ finances and future plans happened spontaneously. However, those parents and grown children who interacted regularly and purposefully with each other to talk about their plans and wishes reported overall high levels of satisfaction about doing so.

We recommend three steps you can take to address the potential “elephant in the room”:

Step 1: Reflect

Resolve to begin detailed conversations with your children to address your financial well-being and estate plan. You should also consider what issues related to money may be challenging for you to express, as well as what kinds of responses may be difficult to handle.

It takes courage to deal with the variety of approaches, attitudes and expectations each person holds about money. Before you engage with your children, spend time thinking about your approach to and experiences with savings, spending and investing; understand how that may influence the tone and direction of your conversations.

Step 2: Prepare

Plan to talk to your children when there is ample time to calmly discuss your estate plan and any issues that may arise. Practice what you want to share, by writing it down and rehearsing. Also, be willing to ask your children even the most seemingly obvious finance-related questions. We’ve developed this list of potential questions; begin with easier topics and progress to more complex ones:

  • What have you learned from my/our example of handling finances?
  • Do you know what I/we want to do in retirement?
  • Are you interested in knowing what’s in my/our will?
  • Do you know what I/we plan to do with our property?
  • Do you know about our philanthropic goals and what we support?
  • Do you know where to find pertinent information for addressing any requirements of you?
  • Are you interested in meeting my/our financial advisor to learn more about our plans?
  • Are you aware of the things I/we pay for, today?
  • Would you be able to take those costs on if I/we weren’t able to support them anymore?
  • Do you think you’ll need my/our financial help down the road, whether it’s for smaller monthly expenses, or larger ones such as a down payment?
  • Would it matter to you if I/we used our savings for travel and leisure instead of helping with your expenses?
  • If I/we needed help paying for long-term care down the road, would you consider helping cover medical bills?

Step 3: Schedule

Agree on the time, financial topic, location and length of your discussion to help all parties remain relaxed and comfortable throughout the conversation. As a family, commit to continuing your conversations about money and estate planning — for instance, you could develop a schedule for ongoing dialogue.

During scheduled conversations with your children, revisit your financial situation and, if necessary, bring up “next topics” related to your estate plan and investments. You may also consider working with a financial advisor who can assist with keeping your conversations about finances focused and productive.

Because many of us only talk about money when we have to, money conversations usually happen in the heat of the moment or when there is pressure to make a decision. Knowing when, where and with whom you will be talking about finances, and being intentional about the conversation topic and scope, can significantly improve both short- and long-term outcomes when it comes to the parent/child dynamic.

Remember, even the smallest of elephants grows larger with time — and trying to ignore it does not help move it out of the room. Contact The Humphreys Group for further advice on how you can best talk with your children about money matters.

Diane Bourdo Speaks to Ellevate Network About Women’s Financial Empowerment

Published in: Blog |

From pop culture to the talking heads you see on nightly financial news programs, the investment world has long been characterized by a certain type of imagery. You know what we’re talking about: Men in suits spouting off tips about the next “hot stock.” Men on the trading floor, surrounded by ticker tape and loud bells.

What’s the common feature in each of these images? Men. Women are never included in these depictions, which has given way to a systemic bias, constructed since the early days of Wall Street: Women don’t — and shouldn’t — invest.

But the problem with that bias (beyond the obvious)? It simply isn’t true. A recent Fidelity Investments study showed that women investors actually outperform male investors by 0.4%. Moreover, women trade less often, react more patiently to market volatility and are less focused on achieving “social status” benchmarks, such as “beating an index.”

Yet, there is still a common perception among women that assumes the opposite. For instance, in the same Fidelity Investments Study, only 9% of women believed they could outperform men in investing. So, how can we change the conversation?

Last week, I teamed up with Ellevate to work hand-in-hand with a small group of women who were seeking financial empowerment and guidance. During the event, I shared some cornerstone financial skills and insights; guided participants through fundamental financial planning exercises; and helped them discover some inspiration that lies in the possibility of financial security.

Here are a few key points from our discussion:

Financial Planning 101

At The Humphreys Group, we have always believed in the importance of establishing financial goals that match up with your values — these are the people, priorities and ideals that matter most to you. Taking this approach allows you to gain a more holistic, big-picture view of your financial future and sets you on a more rewarding and intentional path toward achieving your goals.

After discussing this approach with the group, we broke down financial planning to a more granular level, introducing the concept of the “financial dashboard”: A top-level view of the key figures you can use to identify your level of financial wellness, including income, expenses and net worth. Today, there are plenty of convenient, digital tools you can use to keep a pulse on your financial dashboard, such as Mint, YouNeedaBudget and Tillerhq. By focusing on the basics of financial planning first, we set a strong foundation for the next segment of our discussion:

Investing 101

“Should you invest or save?” “Why invest in the first place?” We kicked off our discussion on this topic by answering some of the questions that all new investors face.

At its most basic level, investing is the process of buying an asset for the potential of it growing in value. As opposed to saving, investing gives you the valuable opportunity to grow your wealth over time — and regardless of what goals you have set for the future, it’s important to start investing early, proportional to your time horizon and tolerance for risk.

After reviewing some basic, yet essential investment principles, we discussed some critical steps all women should take to maximize their savings for one of the most important milestones they’ll face: retirement. Two basic steps include:

    • Maximizing Your Employer Match: Make sure you have a strong understanding of what your company offers, in terms of matching contributions, and how that affects your retirement goals.
    • Choose Your Retirement Accounts Wisely: Before jumping straight into some of the most typical savings vehicles, such as a 401(k) or a standard savings account, take time to research and evaluate your options. Review your potential tax liability with each account before making a final decision.

Take Control Over Your Financial Life 

Beyond the practices of financial planning and investing, there are countless other financial issues and challenges that affect our day-to-day lives. Should you pay off your debt or invest in a retirement account? Should you direct your savings toward your children’s college education or stock them away for your future retirement? What about insurance against unexpected events? Planning for future health care expenses?

The answers to these questions are different for every woman — because every financial situation is unique. Of course, there are general guidelines and principles that can help you get a better grasp on your money and empower you to make the most informed decisions.

The most important step is to simply get started. If you need a resource to help you put your best foot forward:

Check Out Rewriting the Rules: Telling Truths About Women and Money”

Our new book debunks some of the problematic myths that have held women back from financial independence, while empowering you with practical solutions and actionable tips to take control of your financial life. We encourage you to download your free copy, and let us know what you think!

If you’re ready to learn more about financial planning and investing, we also encourage you to contact our team at The Humphreys Group. We can help answer your most pressing questions, and help you set and achieve your goals through the power of focused financial planning and disciplined asset management.

Investing on Your Terms: How to Get Started

Published in: Blog |

If you’ve worked with an experienced advisor at The Humphreys Group, or stayed up-to-date with our communications and outreach, it’s clear the research we do and the personal interactions we have with each client are driven by a desire to dispel long-held – and wrongly-held – beliefs that men are overall better at investing and money matters than women.

We work with our clients to help them appreciate that their experiences – overseeing household finances, dealing with work budgets, participating in community projects – have made them savvier about money than they may realize. We point out that women often earn better investment results than their male counterparts. And we chalk up our clients’ successes to a variety of factors, including women’s tendencies to do more investment research and maintain longer-term perspectives on their financial plans than most men do.

It appears growing numbers of women are hearing similarly empowering messages, and increasingly beginning to learn, talk, write about and engage in investing behaviors worldwide. A recent article in The Guardian by Hilary Osborne highlights several books, podcasts, seminars and other resources where women who want to hone their investment skills can learn to do so. Another online resource makes it clear that maintaining a savings account without considering investing may not be a sufficient strategy for most women in the 21st century.

It may seem daunting to undertake an investment plan. Perhaps you are a woman who is new to investing — or maybe you are already an investor but have questions about your current strategy. In any case, we want you to know we are here to help. We consider the unique needs of each client to support her confidence and knowledge about investing, and the advice our experts offer is grounded in a few straightforward principles:

  • Focus on a short-list of investment principles and strategies that will work for you
  • Take time to learn about and curate your financial resources and investment plan(s)
  • Don’t get distracted by shifting investment trends and jargon

We already know pay gaps between women and men persist, and that many women leave the workforce earlier and live longer than men. Achieving financial equality in their lives remains an issue of interest and concern for many women. Contact The Humphreys Group to start a conversation about your investment journey. And if you haven’t done so already, remember to download a free copy of “Rewriting the Rules: Telling the Truth about Women and Money” to better understand the financial knowledge and smarts you already possess.

Why You Need a Money Mission Statement

Published in: Blog |

“Fortune favors the brave,” an ancient proverb reminds us. The attitude that accompanies these words influences many of the conversations we have with our clients about their long-term plans.

When we begin working with clients on their financial goals and strategies, we acknowledge that, for many women, discussing money matters with loved ones can often be a tense and stressful experience. As we’ve highlighted in previous blogs, we realize a variety of factors can affect how we talk (or don’t talk) about money — so we first take a step back and look at the “big picture.” We ask clients to examine what matters most to them in their professional and personal lives when it comes to:

  • Accomplishments, abilities and goals
  • Responsibilities
  • Priorities
  • Challenges
  • Values
  • Dreams

But we don’t stop there. As our advisors continue to craft savings and investment approaches that consider these factors, we also encourage our clients to develop a money mission statement. A client’s mission statement can reflect their values and priorities, and help them clarify and commit to their specific goals. Additionally, a mission statement may improve how they communicate with others about what they value in their life and what they want to achieve in the future.

When we ask women to answer the following questions, we remind them that possessing a “fortune” can mean much more than accumulating money:

  • “What do I want to accomplish financially (get out of debt, own a home, travel, pursue more education, etc.)?”
  • “Why do I want to accomplish this (to be independent, to create a support system, to remain engaged professionally, etc.)?”
  • “What motivates me and inspires me, professionally and personally (my values, my family, my co-workers, my community, etc.)?”
  • “What else would I like to accomplish or achieve in my life (forge a new career path, create a financial legacy, establish a foundation, etc.)?”

A mission statement not only can help you clarify the next steps and end goals of your financial planning journey, but it can also help reduce the stress and strain of difficult conversations with those closest to you about money matters.

We realize that delving into our dreams and pursuing our goals — and sharing our dreams and goals with those closest to us — can be nerve-wracking. But as women continue to gain independence and power, we know they are brave enough to take important, meaningful steps toward defining their long-term goals and gaining financial security.

Contact The Humphreys Group for advice on how a mission statement can help you move forward to your own, unique fortune.

When One Makes More: How to Manage Financial Inequality

Published in: Blog |

For most of us, talking about money-related matters with our significant other can be an exercise fraught with tension, especially if one person earns more than the other. Even in the 21st century, “financial inequality” remains the norm in many relationships, and can negatively affect the conversations we have with our partners or those closest to us about finances, life/work goals and long-term plans.

But let’s look at some facts that could influence our approach to such discussions. When it comes to female monetary power, wealth in the hands of women — whether assets or income — is a relatively new and evolving phenomenon that shows no sign of slowing down. And consider this positive news: According to the BMO Wealth Institute, women own 51 percent of all personal wealth in the United States. What’s more, women are projected to inherit 70 percent of the $41 trillion in intergenerational wealth transfer expected over the next 40 years, according to researchers at Boston College’s Social Welfare Research Institute.

That said, income gaps between partners remain a more common occurrence than income parity. Men still earn more than women, and the difference between what they earn and what women earn is relatively significant. For example: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2015, only 25 percent of female/male couples had annual earnings that differed no more than $5,000. In just 9 percent of cases, the gap between a woman’s higher income and her male partner’s was $30,000 or more; in 35 percent of cases, the gap between a male partner’s higher earnings and his female partner’s was $30,000 or more.

In the changing earnings landscape, we at The Humphreys Group see an opportunity. As women continue to make inroads toward closing income gaps, and as more women become household breadwinners, we believe we can help develop new rules for discussing money matters with the people who are close to us. We can begin to change the tone of these conversations so that both parties benefit, regardless of the amount of a person’s take-home pay.

How do we do this? Through our research and ongoing client discussions, we count ourselves among the financial experts who recommend the following strategies to help improve money-related conversations when inequalities exist:

  • Discuss and acknowledge each other’s values, goals and priorities
  • Schedule time to make financial plans and decisions together
  • Realize the value of the non-financial ways each of you contributes to your lives and households
  • Work to maintain a balance when it comes to household duties and expectations
  • Communicate money concerns with each other and address tensions triggered by financial inequality

You are far from alone if you feel an edge to conversations about money from time to time, especially if financial inequality is a factor in your discussions. But we believe relationships can transcend all sorts of differences and obstacles — not just those related to money — with open, honest communication and understanding.

Contact The Humphreys Group advisors for more insight and information on how to improve your conversations in ways that benefit both your financial relationships and your financial planning strategies.

The Truth About Money, Power and Personal Relationships

Published in: Blog |

In previous blogs, we’ve explored the struggles many of us face when it comes to addressing financial issues with other people in our lives. We’ve delved into the reasons why conversations about money can be challenging for some relationships. And as we’ve examined these topics, one small but mighty theme keeps coming up.

Power.

We live in a world and in a society that regards power as the ability of an individual or a group to influence actions, policies, people and events, especially when it comes to business and politics. But often we don’t spend time examining how power — a word packed with multiple meanings and nuanced dimensions — can affect our personal lives; and, in particular, our financial relationships.

So let’s clarify.

As part of our thorough strategy to foster healthy financial relationships, the experienced advisors at The Humphreys Group encourage each client to explore her understanding of positional power versus personal power.

  • Positional power comes most often through external sources, and is heavily influenced by public perceptions that measure a person on factors that include her abilities, her job status, her possessions and her income. Conflicts about perceived positional power can contribute to a heightened sense of inequity in professional relationships, but also in individuals’ personal lives — especially when it comes to finances.
  • In contrast, regardless of job, income or social status, personal power is gained whenever an individual values the unique experiences that have shaped her life; determines the values that drive her professional work and personal relationships; and stays true to those principles. We advise our clients to work on uncovering and exploring what has influenced their personal power, to see its value and to understand how they can use it to strengthen and improve financial conversations and goal-setting in their relationships.

Trying to “prove” oneself based on external measurements related to positional power inevitably affects the dynamics of any relationship. But when individuals begin to exert their personal power by expressing what matters to them, the pressure to “measure up” to others — publicly and privately — diminishes. The possibility of fewer adversarial conversations emerges when the power dynamics even out. New opportunities arise for those who share a fiscal relationship to work together to communicate and identify common values, and then develop creative solutions to any financial challenges they face.

When we better understand the principles that another person values and draws meaning from, we can develop a sense of empathy and mutual respect that informs how we handle any kind of power dynamic. Contact The Humphreys Group for expert advice on learning how to explore and exert your personal power, so you can communicate what you care about and what matters most to you when it comes to your financial life.

Family Legacies: Do They Influence Our Giving Habits?

Published in: Blog |

For many of us, our family legacies have influenced how we engage with the world — including our financial practices. As we grow older and begin to examine our spending, saving and giving patterns, some of us realize our families have taught us money-related behaviors we admire and strive to emulate, especially when it comes to giving. But let’s admit it: it’s not always easy to give. As women negotiating busy, 21st-century lives, how can we sustain and grow the inspiration to continue giving traditions, particularly to the causes and issues we care about?

One thing to keep in mind is that giving may contribute to our overall sense of life satisfaction and happiness, and serve as a model behavior that others around us want to emulate. Study results reported by Fidelity Charitable in 2018 revealed:

  • A higher number of respondents who said they grew up with “strong giving traditions” felt closer to immediate as well as extended family members, and also felt higher levels of happiness than those who reported their family giving traditions were not strong.
  • “Strong giving tradition” respondents were more likely to engage in conversations and negotiations about the value of giving and where to focus their giving efforts; the same group reported parents and grandparents were key influencers of their adult giving behaviors.

When it comes to giving, however, women often forge their own path. A body of research from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (part of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis) continues to reveal differences between the factors that influence the giving behaviors of women versus men. Among the key findings from WPI’s 2018 study? Parents’ giving behaviors, as well as the frequency of parental giving, appear to influence women’s adult giving behaviors more significantly than men’s behaviors.

There may be additional reasons for why giving behaviors and patterns can differ between genders: a 2007 New York Times article cites social research that adds to the discussion about contrasts between what motivates the giving behaviors of men and women.

How can women, who demonstrate distinct giving behaviors, apply what they know about the general benefits of giving to their individual financial behaviors? Additionally, how can women develop long-term giving behaviors and habits that remain within their financial capacities and align with their distinct values so that when they give, they are consciously “giving with gladness”?

We offer a few final recommendations on how to approach giving, and encourage you to share these ideas with your network of friends and family (the one you have or the family you’ve made):

  • Build a network for your financial giving by discussing and sharing stories about the issues or organizations that you’d like to give to, and highlight the benefit(s) your giving could support.
  • If you choose to donate part of “your treasure,” establish a financial gift-giving timeline — monthly, annually, or on another schedule — to ensure you remain within your financial capacities and do not place undue stress on your personal budget and other fiscal plans.
  • As we’ve discussed previously, consider what “time” or “talent” you could provide — volunteering, consulting services, sponsorship, fundraising, etc. — in addition to or instead of a financial gift.

We understand that establishing a habit of giving can be a complex endeavor, influenced by lessons we’ve learned from our families or associated with a variety of positive and not-so-positive experiences related to money. Contact our team to discuss how you can develop a thoughtful strategy to begin meeting your goal of “giving with gladness.”

Living in Gratitude

Published in: Blog |

Messenger

My work is loving the world.

Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —

equal seekers of sweetness.

Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.

Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

 

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?

Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me

keep my mind on what matters,

which is my work,

 

which is mostly standing still and learning to be

astonished.

The phoebe, the delphinium.

The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.

Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

 

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart

and these body-clothes,

a mouth with which to give shouts of joy

to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,

telling them all, over and over, how it is

that we live forever.

 

– Mary Oliver