According to top financier Paula Polito, the myth that women are “bad with money” is actually the result of women abdicating long-term fiscal responsibilities on the erroneous assumption that “their spouses know more about financial matters.”
At the Women in the World summit in New York on Thursday, a panel of financial experts worked to change that narrative.
Women’s feelings of fiscal anxiety are more “generational or cultural” than factual, said Polito, Global Client Strategy Officer and Group Managing Director of Global Wealth Management at UBS Financial Services. Even Millennial women, members of what is arguably the most liberated, educated generation ever, are abdicating financial decisions to their husbands, “which is shocking,” said Polito.
Why does this keep happening and how can women feel empowered to change their relationship to money? According to Polito, financial therapist Bari Tessler and author and academic Tayari Jones, there are a few simple ways to boost confidence and competence:
- Simply put, women need to take an active role in big financial decisions, learn financial literacy “and let go of the shame, the sadness and the guilt around money,” said Tessler.
- Couples need to work together to discuss long-term financial goals, so there are no “financial surprises” if there is a divorce or a death, leaving the other to deal with unexpected monetary issues. According to Tessler, many of her clients express “regret” over not being more involved in financial decisions when they’re suddenly left to deal with finances.
- Single women need to let go of the idea that because they manage their own money and take care of themselves, they’re somehow “overly ambitious” or too interested in “the material world,” said Jones.
- Meanwhile, partnered women need to financially empower themselves in their relationship. Sit with a financial planner, take a bookkeeping course. Avoid passivity when it comes to your financial health.
- As Polito said, couples that work on their long-term financial goals together reported higher confidence in their future, fewer mistakes and less stress around money. “Couples who do that are most successful.”
Additional reporting by Laura Macomber.