For years I have been the “CFO” of my household. Over twenty plus years of marriage, I have paid the bills, done all of the investing, monitored the family budget and net worth, negotiated mortgages, and even have power of attorney for my husband, so that I can execute trades on behalf of him. We both have charities that are near and dear to our hearts, but we normally write a check for all of our donations from our joint account. Often, the thank you card we receive from the charity is addressed only to my husband. Ouch!
Over the past year I have had two charities which responded to our charitable donations with thank you cards made out only to my husband. Meanwhile, my name is listed first on the top of the check and I have a different surname than his. In addition, we continued to get mail from one of the organizations and, you guessed it; my name wasn’t included on that mailing either! Meanwhile, my husband does not even have his own checking account nor was he the one who originally decided to give to the charity. I had been the one who starting contributing and asking for information.
When I complained to the charity, it took them over 6 months for them to include me in their subsequent mailings. Still, even though I am the one who signed up for ongoing electronic communication, they only address my husband in the salutation of the correspondence sent to my email address.
As a female CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professional, I respect that not all women want to take charge of their finances to the extent I do, but I believe that it is extremely important for women to be aware of their financial situation. That is why I insist that each spouse (or partner) is involved in the financial planning process and that they both provide feedback on my questionnaires as well as participate in ongoing discussions. If anything, women have a greater need to feel secure about their finances as the majority of females become solely responsible for their finances due to death, divorce, or choosing to stay single. The financial services industry often is derided for their treatment of women, both toward employees as well as clients. I can totally understand how women can feel disenfranchised by these institutions and society at times. We need to think about the subtle and not so subtle messages we send out to them that may be turning them off.
We are no longer living in the 50s. More women than men are graduating from college and obtaining graduate degrees. We are choosing to work even after we have children, and we often make most of the buying decisions for our households. With the growth of internet communication, we need to ensure that our databases are capturing the correct client data and responding to both spouses. It is essential that women not only feel they are being acknowledged, but that their input is being solicited in a proactive way.