The Expert Q&A on Women, Money & the Markets with WSFS Wealth Investments Advisor Amy Solano
Q: The stock market has been extremely volatile since the outbreak of the coronavirus, Covid-19. How do you recommend that women think about their money, the markets and volatility now?
A: Even though it is unsettling to watch all the news surrounding this virus, it is important to maintain perspective. One of the biggest risks investors face over time is overreacting to events and market volatility, which can negatively impact their savings. If you are investing for the long term and you have an investment plan that includes a well-diversified portfolio, it generally makes sense to stay the course. The markets will recover—just as they have done in the past. It’s understandable to be anxious about how recent market fluctuations will affect your savings goals. It can be beneficial to establish a relationship with a financial advisor who can help you navigate through volatile periods such as this.
Q: Women investors have a reputation for being more conservative than men. But studies have shown that our investments tend to outperform men’s. What are women doing right?
A: I have found this to be true. I have very different conversations with men and women about investing. For example, at a dinner party it’s not uncommon for a man to approach me inquiring about the latest “hot stock” or with questions on technical data such as a stock’s PE Ratio. I generally don’t get these types of questions from women. A woman is much more likely to ask goal-based questions, such as has she saved sufficiently for retirement and allocated enough funds to cover the rising costs of healthcare.
With goals in mind, many women invest with a broad-based, longer-term view. When you plan, you are less likely to focus on short-term movements in the market, reducing transaction fees associated with trading and tend to diversify your portfolio more. Transaction fees can erode returns over time. Usually, long-term investors aren’t putting a lot of dollars towards one type of stock. If the price of the stock falls, there is a temptation to hold onto a stock in the hopes that the stock price rebounds. Of course, sometimes the stock price rebounds, and sometimes it does not.
Many women are known to be budgeters. If you are regularly allocating funds for investing as part of your budget, you are using a strategy that is called “dollar cost averaging.” This means you are placing a fixed dollar amount into an investment on a regular basis regardless of what is occurring in the financial markets. This can reduce volatility and remove the emotion of market timing.
This steady approach is a great way to reach your goals.
Q: Women now control more than half of all U.S. wealth. But we still invest less than men do. Why is that? And, are there signs this is changing?
A: Many reasons have been given why women invest less than men do. Investing can be intimidating. It can seem confusing unless you are well versed in financial jargon. Quite often the analogies used to make investing easier to understand don’t resonate with a lot of women.
Also, finding a financial advisor that you trust can be challenging. Traditionally, it has been a male-dominated industry. Many women seeking financial advice often feel more comfortable with someone who understands their experiences. Women typically live longer and are usually the primary caregiver both for their children and parents. Shared experiences help to build trust.
The Internet and social media have aided in building confidence and connections. They are great tools to locate and connect to financial advisors who share your values. They have also given women the opportunity to educate themselves. There are several websites that offer investment education and tools. Once you understand investing, you are less likely to be intimidated by it and more likely to do it.
Q: Should we think about investing as a smart way to advance wealth equity?
A: There are so many factors that come into play on both pay equity and wealth equity. They are closely related issues. It’s true that certain low-paying industries do traditionally attract female workers. It is also true that many women earn less than a man for doing the same job.
Working in a male dominated industry like financial services, I have either experienced or been witness to many instances of inequity or inequality. I have one piece of advice that I have learned along the way: Be assertive. Volunteer for that project, ask for the pay raise, express your worth and educate yourself. I know that is easier said than done, but by doing these things you are potentially growing your income. More income gives you the opportunity to save and invest. And, investing increases your wealth. If women can do this on a consistent collective basis, things can change.
Q: Businesses still have a long way to go to make gender equity a reality. As women, should we be thinking about investing in companies that have made clear commitments to gender diversity?
A: I am a big proponent of women in leadership roles. Women bring a different perspective to the workplace that is beneficial. I wish more companies would establish programs to develop a well-trained, diverse workforce. Diversity is one of many factors that investors should consider when investing in a company. Research has shown that companies that have a diverse workforce are more productive than companies that don’t have one.
AMY SOLANO is a graduate of the University of Delaware and began her career in financial services in 2003. She was first licensed in 2009 while working for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. In addition, Amy has held various positions at MBNA, Barclays, and UBS Financial. At WSFS Wealth Investments, Amy combines the experience she has gained throughout her financial services career with a deep concern for her clients’ personal and financial well-being to produce plans and portfolios that help her clients better achieve their personal, emotional, and financial goals. She holds her FINRA Series 7 and 66 securities registrations through Commonwealth Financial Network®. Amy earned the AIF® designation from the Center for Fiduciary Studies. The AIF® designation certifies that she has specialized knowledge of fiduciary standards of care and their application to the investment management process. She is currently working toward the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™(CFP®) certification. She also holds life and health insurance licenses.