When it comes to financial equality, how can women bridge the gap in areas of salary parity and knowledge and take greater control of their financial lives?
If you know Tribeca, you’ll know that we’re very much glass half-full people. We look at things with a realistic, but positive lens. How can we strengthen and improve the position of our own Tribe, and importantly, our clients?
So when it comes to talking about the financial equality and wellbeing of women, we tackle this issue with the same approach. Let’s look at the facts, and then work out ways that we can move forward together.
To help us do this, we asked our own advisors – Stevie-Jade Turner and Mariana Subasic – to add their expert knowledge and insights to the discussion.
But first, let’s start with the facts
When we look at the simple stats, there’s no denying the financial disparity between women and men. And this come in many forms:
- The latest findings from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) shows that Australia’s national gender pay gap still sits at 13.9% – that’s on average $242.90 per week less than men
- The latest ABS statistics revealed the median superannuation balance at, or approaching, 55-64 years was $119,000 for women and $183,000 for men
- A separate study from 2019 also showed that men aged between 30 and 60 have retirement savings worth 42% more than for women of the same age
- In 2016 a study from the Commonwealth estimated that almost 40 per cent of retired single women live in poverty and older single women are one of the fastest growing components of people living in poverty.
How then, can we empower women to take greater control of their financial wellbeing and start shifting the balance? We asked Stevie-Jade and Mariana the same question.
It starts with recognising that there are challenges to women’s financial lives that are different to men. And to look at how we can alter our thinking and approach to respond to these challenges.
Empowerment and independence
I grew up in a household with no full-time male presence. We had a father figure (my step grandad who worked away a lot) and pseudo uncles who were great male role models but on a day-to-day basis there was no such thing as a ‘man’s job’ or a ‘woman’s job’. We were raised to understand that if something needed to be done, either my sister, my Nana or myself needed to figure out how to do it. No question of whether we could/should/would; we just did.
Of course, when I eventually found out through schooling that in history women didn’t have the same rights as we do now, and were limited in their pursuits of anything outside the family home or raising children, I was genuinely shocked and thought it was the silliest thing I’d ever heard.
I think this is why I want to be part of helping women who might not have had that belief that they can take care of themselves and be independent if they want to. Financial empowerment is an important part of the independence that anyone can have.
Knowledge is power
As knowledge is power, women need to be able to seek out information safely. I know women who are overwhelmed by financial decisions but don’t feel safe to admit it or seek the information in the first place. It can also be really daunting to filter through all of the information that is available online. Some of it is contradictory, some of it is sales pitches disguised as helpful information, and some of it is just plain wrong.
Take Super for instance. The facts are that the cards are somewhat stacked against women. And it’s not just because of a pay disparity or earnings ceiling for women. It’s also because of biology; we are just more inclined to take time out of the workforce to raise children. Then there’s also risk aversion. Right or wrong, women are seen as less risk tolerant than men (this is a generalisation of course). So, as there’s lower returns in investments with lower risk, in the long run the Super balances of men will generally outperform the Super balances of women if the funds have been geared in this way.
But by knowing the facts/trends/differences in this area well ahead of time, women can take steps to close the gap early so that Super balances are far more on par with those for men.
The more you learn, the more confidence you will have, the better position you’ll be in, and the more productive and proactive conversations you’ll have with your team of financial professionals.
Establish a team of trusted professionals
The best way to teach yourself about any new area of interest is to learn from others. Read recommended personal finance books by reputable authors who have been there and done that. This will lead you to a point where you will then need to find a team of trusted professionals to help you (think accountant, mortgage broker, financial planner to start, then maybe a buyer’s advocate or business coach later on). Give trust slowly when you are at this stage; verify what you need first to feel comfortable.
Women talk money is a great site full of financial advice and tips for women.
In charge of your destiny
My family started our lives in Australia from scratch as refugees from Serbia. This taught me a lot about independence; not having to rely on anyone else was really driven into me as a child. It’s one of the reasons why I’m so passionate about equality, especially educating women on understanding their financial position and being empowered to achieve their goals and feel financially free.
What I see with a lot of female clients is that they are not taught to manage their money growing up and therefore shy away from seeking help and guidance at a later age. This then impacts their goals in life, their relationships, the knowledge they pass onto their kids and their overall wellbeing. Furthermore, women have less funds in retirement and given that we live longer statistically, this is a scary reality for us to face. Which is why most people don’t…until it’s too late.
My motivation is to close that knowledge gap and allow women to take control of their finances. Having the information necessary means that you have the power to change what is not working, be in charge of your own destiny and not have to rely on someone else to do this for you.
I believe in controlling the things that you can control in life. This includes income, expenses and investment decisions; now and in the future. It can be scary for women to speak up and ask for help, but there is no shame in reaching out. I had this fear myself growing up, thinking that financial planning was all about numbers. But once you become curious and find out the information that’s relevant to you and your life, it becomes a lot simpler. I can guarantee that.
In fact it led me to become a financial advisor, another area that is unfortunately underrepresented by women and something I am passionate about reversing. Changing this status quo really starts at an early age through making women more comfortable and confident about understanding finances; and seeing that it’s not just all numbers. Financial advice is more about helping people achieve their goals and be empowered in their life.
So what can you do now to start taking control of your finances?
Begin with these key questions:
- What do I want my future to look like? (look at short medium and long term)
- Am I earning the right income for myself and is this structured the best way for my financial position?
- What are my expenses and debt levels? (and be honest with yourself)
- Do I feel a sense of security and a feeling of freedom?
Then talk this through with a professional that you feel comfortable with. They will explain the key concepts that apply to your situation and help you understand without the unnecessary jargon. Once you have the information, you can then start to apply this to your financial situation.
The first step is always the scariest, but also the most important.
Click here for some great financial tools and resources from the Government.
We also have plenty of articles on our website.
Thanks to Stevie-Jade and Mariana for sharing their personal stories and perspectives. And thank you to all of the women – our Tribe and clients – that continue to have such a profound impact on the direction and values of our business.
If you would like to talk to one of our advisors about how we can help you take control of your financial wellbeing, please click here.