Women, Money and Power

Women, Money and Power. This is the title of an article recently published by Aimee Johnson, who is the women’s program manager for Allianz Life. According to Johnson, the women’s market is still viewed by some as a niche market, but she goes on to set the record straight.

Nearly a third of women serve as the sole or main breadwinner of their household, according to a 2009 report on women in the labor force by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A more recent study from Women and Company also notes that 66 percent of affluent women designate themselves as the chief financial officer (CFO) of their family. Women also control 60 percent of the wealth in the United States and are involved in 90 percent of the family’s financial decisions.

Simply put, the women’s market is significant. What is just as significant is that women are still not getting the attention they deserve from the financial services industry, so gentlemen, pay attention. The LIFE Foundation hopes to change this lack of attention.

The 2007 Allianz Women, Money and Power study indicated that only 29 percent of women are working with a financial professional. The study revealed that this was mainly because of a lack of comfort and confidence with financial planning, despite the fact that these same women are well educated, have successful careers and are managing their daily household finances.

So, she asks, where is the disconnect?

A main issue is that the financial services industry approaches the women’s market as one group with consistent needs, but just like the male market, they have many different life stages and financial needs.

The Allianz study found that divorce or widowhood plunges nearly half of all women into financial crisis or drives a major change in how they seek out financial guidance. The average age of widowhood is only 58 and more than 44 percent of women over the age of 65 are widowed, as are nearly 10 percent of women ages 55-64 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2005-2007 American Community Survey).

Some of the common challenges facing widows include settling the estate and re-titling assets; changing beneficiary designations on insurance and retirement accounts; establishing a new power of attorney, reviewing income needs, and changing tax status.

Although the initial conversation may need to focus on more immediate subjects, such as credit card debt and developing a new budget, an in-depth discussion should happen about three major areas – insurance, Social Security and retirement, including ongoing contributions and qualified plan distributions.

Johnson then points out specific concerns for insurance needs, Social Security and retirement. These points are too numerous to discuss in this short blog, but suffice it to say that women need professional guidance to work through these areas.

This year, the LIFE Foundation will focus our resources on the women’s market and their needs. We are changing our awareness campaigns to insure we reach out to women in the 25 to 50 age group as well as the traditional markets. Check our website during the year for updates.

by Marvin H. Feldman

Marvin H. Feldman, CLU, ChFC, RFC, is president of the Feldman Financial Group in Palm Harbor, Fla., and president and CEO of Life Happens. He is a 41-year Million Dollar Round Table member and was the 2002 president. He is a 33-year member of the MDRT Top of the Table and a past Top of the Table chairman. He also is the recipient of the 2011 John Newton Russell award, the highest honor bestowed on an individual by the insurance industry.

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