My approach to financial planning has been influenced by my personal experiences and by my time spent working for the National Football League. While working for the NFL, I managed over 3 dozen non-apparel licensees and nearly $30 million in revenue. My job was to provide NFL fans with awesome “stuff” to buy, thereby increasing the League’s profits.
Nearly the entire time I was at the NFL, our group was focused on targeting female fans. The NFL’s marketing department had found that women weren’t just humoring their significant others by joining them on the couch on Game Day; rather, women were increasingly becoming fans themselves, and over half of them considered themselves avid fans.
Initially, the apparel group took the lead, marketing jerseys to women. These jerseys were just a hair smaller than the man's version, and pink. After all, that's what women wanted, right? Nope. Turns out, women did not want to wear baggy jerseys that didn't fit them properly, nor did they want bright pink gear that didn't match their team's colors. NFL's initial "Shrink it and Pink it" campaign for women had underwhelmed our target audience.
As NFL execs, we were responsible for delivering products to the market that our fans wanted. The female market was the fastest growing segment of fans, so we needed to find a way to reach this audience in a meaningful way. We put our thinking caps on. When women were watching football, they were mostly in the presence of men, so they wanted to look and feel good. And, they wanted to don their team colors, not pink. Besides apparel, we noticed that women loved accessories and experienced the game differently than men, so there was a need to develop different products just for them.
Before you knew it, we had an extensive product line for women that included fitted t-shirts with sequins, team colored nail polish, handbags and wine glasses. This stuff was definitely not for men. Women had established themselves as fans and they had a product line to prove it.
So, why should financial planning be any different? Like football, financial planning and investing has historically been a man's game. But time's they are a-changing! Women today earn approximately 50% more advanced degrees than men1 and women are increasingly the breadwinners. A 2014 report to the White House on Women's Participation in Education and the Workforce found that women are the primary earners in nearly 3 out of 10 American households of dual-earning couples.2 While both men and women share many of the same financial concerns, women do have unique lifestyle issues that directly impact their financial needs.
WOMEN'S FINANCIAL NEEDS ARE DIFFERENT THAN MEN'S:
- Women live longer, so their money needs to last longer. Even though women, on average, live five years longer than men3 and make up almost two-thirds of the population over the age 80,4 the average woman actually accumulates less money for retirement than the average man. Why?
- Women have fewer years in the workforce. Taking time out to have children means fewer years to build up retirement funds in a 401(k) or other plan. It may also mean lower Social Security payments when they retire.
- Women are much less likely than men to receive pension income in retirement (27.9% of women compared with 42.6% of men 65 and older), and for those who receive benefits, women’s annual benefits are two-thirds the amount received by men.5
- Because they live longer, women are more likely to require Long Term Care. Unfortunately, health care costs have escalated beyond the point of affordability for most people. The national average cost of a year of nursing home care is nearly $94,200 today and round-the-clock home care can be more than that.6
- Women earn less. Women’s earnings average $.77 for every $1 earned by men, according to the institute for Women’s Policy Research, April 2012.7
Given the unique needs of women today, it is surprising to see that the financial industry is still by and large a man's world. But, it doesn't have to be. It's time that women have access to financial advice just for them. It's time that women have a safe space to address their fears and concerns with other like-minded women. And it's time to provide women with content that they can understand, that's not meant to make them feel stupid or uncomfortable.
My clients are very successful people. It's not that they can't understand investments or financial planning. They just need it explained in a way that makes sense to them. Like the NFL, Gretchen Meyer Financial is providing a special experience just for women, because women are different, and they deserve it.
1 (The Rise of Women: The Gender Gap in Education and What It Means for American Schools, Russell Sage Foundation. Author’s compilation based on Snyder and Dillow, 2012) http://www.russellsage.org/blog/rise-women-seven-charts-showing-womens-rapid-gains-educational-achievement
2 Bureau of Labor Statistics; CEA calculations. http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/womens_slides_final.pdf
3 Life expectancy at birth is 76.2 years for men and 81.1 years for women, according to the National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 60, No. 4, January 11, 2012).
4 U.S. Census Bureau, 2006-2010 American Community Survey.
5 EBRI estimates of data from the Current Population Survey, March 2011 Supplement.
6 Based on the John Hancock 2013 Cost of Care Survey conducted by LifePlans, Inc.
7 Institute for Women’s Policy Research, “New Study: Men Earn More than Women within Nearly All the Most Common Occupations,” March 2012.