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Why I Won’t Tell You How Women Behave With Money

Margo Cook, CAP/CFRE

Why I Won’t Tell You How Women Behave With Money

There are a lot of generalized assumptions floating around out there regarding how women behave with money, saving, and investing.  Let me set the stage with a few examples:

  • While studying for a finance exam recently, the instructor in my course said, “Women have unique challenges when it comes to saving for retirement. However, one positive thing to note is that they take advice from financial advisors better than men (do?)!”
  • While driving in the car, a commercial for a bank came on: “Women are more risk averse than men. Their investments generally are too conservative to earn the rate of investment return they need to save for retirement.”
  • While listening to a podcast, I came across this gem: “If you are an advisor who works with women, keep in mind that they want you to treat them differently than you might treat a man. Speak to them instead of their husbands.  Explain it in a way they understand.  Don’t use too much jargon.  Look them in the eye, focus on behaviors, and show empathy.”
  • An article entitled, “What Women Want,” recently came across my desk from a finance writer. After a quick review, I immediately put it in the recycle bin.

When is the last time we heard commercials, read articles, or listened to instructors talk about men like this?  If men get to be individuals, with individual goals, needs and behaviors, why can’t women be unique individuals too? 

When asked recently by our team to write an article for dissemination, I was mulling over potential topics.  I thought, “Maybe I should speak to our women clients.”  However, when I sat down to write, I started to get frustrated.  I kept thinking about the experiences I’ve shared with you here and finally just wrote one sentence: “Women are individuals who each desire unique things from their financial advisor/investment manager based on their own situations, goals and feelings.”  I couldn’t get beyond this sentence so I gave up.

So, what can we do about this?

Here is my PSA:  If you are working with an advisor, find one who helps you because you are you – avoid one who thinks he or she already knows what you want because you’re a woman.    Don’t choose an advisor who believes you “take direction well” or need to be coddled.  Ask advisor candidates about the ways in which they are compensated. (See blog post on 7 Questions To Ask Yourself).  Figure out if they know how to incorporate your personal needs with a plan of action rather than just telling you what they think you should do (AKA, a canned plan) without getting to know you.  Find someone who respects you, regardless of your sex or whether you are the primary breadwinner in your household.  I heard a statistic recently that says women control 51% of finances in US households.  I think it’s just about time women were respected for their role in this capacity.  It’s also just about time that the lines of communication were opened between the “financial spouse” and the “non-financial spouse,” whoever they might be in your household, so that no matter the circumstance or issue, no one needs to worry. (See: our 2012 Q3 Quarterly Newsletter)

Our team at 1 North treats all of our clients with respect and as individuals, regardless of gender. We won’t ever tell you what you should want or generalize how you should behave. 

We are starting a new short-video series intended to answer your general financial questions.  If you have any ideas for topics, please send them to  We look forward to hearing from you!