Linda Malin used to accompany her grandmother when she conferred with her stockbroker. As a little girl, Malin didn’t know what was happening, but somehow knew her grandmother was taking care of business.
“She was unusual for her time,” Malin said. “When I grew up, it became my ambition and business to manage money like my grandmother.”
Formerly a teacher and later a divorced mother of three, Malin initially taught herself, often getting up early to read books about finance before going to work. Today she is a certified financial planner with UBS.
“It looks hard, but it’s like a recipe,” said Malin. “Planning to manage your money is not complicated. You follow the steps.”
According to Investor Insights Quarterly, women hold significant wealth today and that wealth is expected to grow — approximately one-half of U.S. wealth today, increasing to two-thirds in the next 10 years. In addition, women are likely to inherit money twice, once from parents and later from a spouse. Many will also inherit financial worries: children’s educations, having enough income, leaving a legacy and protecting themselves from the rising cost of long-term care.
For women seeking advice, Malin recommends CFP.net as a reliable first step, or ask an attorney or accountant for recommendations.
“Then sit down with three or four. Go out for lunch or coffee. Find out their financial philosophy. What’s their process, and are they asking thorough questions. It’s the process that’s important,” she said.
Certified financial planners undergo three extra years of rigorous training culminating in a national exam that 54 percent will pass.She cautions there are good players and bad players in every industry, and red flags include telling a woman what to do instead of suggestions or solutions.
“Don’t accept any discomfort or patronizing,” she said. “It’s a very intimate relationship, more like a physician. A professional should do more listening than talking.”
The planning process will differ according to a woman’s stage of life.
“If you’re young, what’s your savings gap? If you’re close to retirement, there’s not as much time and you have less wiggle room,” she said. “Another factor is whether or not a woman is working. Having a financial plan will simplify your life.”
Getting financially fit means a close look inside a woman’s life.
“If you’ve been married for 30 years and your husband’s doing the management, begin by at least going to the meetings. You’ll absorb more than you think,” she said. “What keeps you awake at night? What do you do with all these moving parts, and how do you protect yourself?”
The biggest mistake many women make is to not remain fully invested, which is the biggest contributor to long-term financial success.
“You can be too limited or too bold,” Malin said. “Ask yourself, if I have $1,000, am I willing to see it go to $900, even $800, and weather the market downturns? Staying fully invested is harder to do than it sounds.”
Although Malin recommends professional advice, women can also do as she did — read.
“Just Google wealth management,” she said. “A second source is a company’s 401K plan. They have kits that will walk you through.”
Malin emphasizes it doesn’t matter how little or how much knowledge a woman has.
“Don’t let that stand in your way. Know yourself. It’s what I tell all my women clients. Math is easy, people are complex,” she said. “But the beautiful thing is, you can put your head on the pillow at night and not worry.”