Diane Manuel had the opportunity to interview Dr. Lois P. Frankel, President of Corporate Coaching International. Dr. Frankel is the author of numerous best-selling books, including Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, and Nice Girls Just Don’t Get It.
Diane Manuel: What does wealth mean to women? Is it different than what it means to men?
Lois Frankel: Men see money as power so you can never have too much. But women only see it as a means to an end. They don’t aspire to be rich, they only aspire to be comfortable.
DM: Why don’t more women try investing as a way of increasing the money they do have?
LF: In our minds, investing is closely associated with math—something we think we’re not good at. This stems from our middle school experience when a girl’s brain development is better prepared to tackle language than math. Even though that changes later in high school, for many girls the damage is done.
DM: Are things changing?
LF: Yes, but at a glacial pace. Women are beginning to realize that 80% of men die married, but the same number of women die single. This means that for the vast majority of women, at some point in their lives they will be 100% responsible for their finances.
DM: How much money should a woman have saved or invested?
LF: I define rich as having all the money you need to live the life you want, free from concerns about money. So it’s not the same dollar amount for everyone. A lot depends on your lifestyle, interests, hobbies, philanthropic philosophy. No matter what that is, women must get in the money game if they are to live the lives they want. Younger women need to understand that if they are lucky they will grow into old age with good health and leisure time. They will also live longer than their parents. So it’s never too early to start investing wisely.
DM: Do you see a difference in how men and women approach investing?
LF: Women actually make better investors than men when they do invest, but they have a greater fear of investing, and this holds them back. By some estimates, 70% of women have mostly cash in their retirement account. They fear that their money will disappear in the next market downturn. It’s not necessary to invest all of your savings at once; do it incrementally until you get more comfortable. It’s an investment in your future. And I can tell you from my own experience, it’s exciting to see your money grow!
DM: How can women become more comfortable with the investment process?
LF: Knowledge is power. I suggest you begin by talking with your friends about how they’re handling their investments. We talk to our girlfriends about the most personal things, but we don’t talk about money! Similarly, start a finance book club with friends, or suggest financial reading in your current book club. Another thing—if you are not the primary person responsible for finances in your home, insist on being involved. And find a financial advisor you trust. That’s what made the biggest difference for me personally. Doing these things will help you to understand the terminology, the concepts, the rewards, and the realities of your finances. And the result will be that you are both wealthier and more confident.