A Man Is Not A Financial Plan, by Shiree Hembrow

I learned in my life that a man is not a financial plan.

I married at 42, which for my husband was a second marriage. At the time I was an independent person with my own career and enjoying looking after myself.

My husband earns more than I do and he is closer to retirement than I am, and I know the value of sitting down with an independent third person hearing our personal stories come out, getting them down on the same page and prioritising our plans, together.

I also want some control over the direction my life takes. This feeling of retaining some independence and control over my life and our finances has never gone away.

I am a woman who needs to know where I am going and where we are going as a couple too.

About 17 years ago, my new husband said he thought that I should become a financial adviser. He said women have a different perspective to men when it comes to money and investing, and the world needed more female financial advisers. Seven years later I was a fully qualified financial adviser working for Polson Higgs Wealth Management (now phwealth) in Christchurch.

In the 25 years I have been working in the financial planning world, I have noticed that few women I meet are fully engaged in their finances or planning for their lives after work, mostly leaving it up to their husbands/partners and sometimes to no one.

As financial advisers we have always known the value of having a written personal financial plan and a third-party adviser. It is true for women and men on their own, as it is for couples.

As a woman:

  • My values are important to me including my values around money.
  • There are things I want to achieve in my short life, and I need to know if you, my partner, are on the same page?
  • I want to know how money works, not just with family spending, but also the big picture, on the national and world stage.
  • Knowledge empowers me. I want to know as much as I need to know.
  • Or, maybe I do not want to know about the detail of money, and you do. That is fine, until I lose you for some reason. I do want some control over our joint finances. Maybe now is a good time to bring in an independent third party, so that we can both get to know and trust them, so that my needs and wants can shine through as well as yours?
  • I may not want to take over our joint finances or joint investments, but I would like some say in choosing our independent financial adviser. I need to trust them as much as you do.
  • I want an adviser who will take the time to get to know both of us without judging us.

Statistically, women live longer than men and earn less. meaning women will require more money saved for what is likely to be a longer retirement.

For women over 50, they need reassurance they will not run out of money or be a burden on their families.  This is extremely important for widowed or divorced women.

Research tells us women, on average, make better investors than men:

  • Women take a more hands-off approach to investing allowing their investments to gain a better return over the long-term. 
  • Men take a more active approach to investment, and they tend to be less interested in the idea of having a written personal financial plan as it might seem restrictive.
  • Women are more likely to evaluate success by asking the question, “Am I on track to achieving my goals?” (www.hermoney.com)

Studies show that clients developing a personal financial plan with a financial adviser make better overall decisions.  A financial adviser helps you stay on track as financial plans are reviewed annually and altered for life changes along the way.

Outside of my working life, I enjoy spending time with my husband, family, friends, and walking our dog on the beach.  I have been a passionate dragon boater for ten seasons and treasurer of our club (Otautahi Paddling Club) though I am taking this season off.  In 2019 I competed in the World Dragon Boat Championships in Thailand for the Senior B Women’s (Over 50’s) team.  I am a Rotarian at the Rotary Club of Christchurch and Chairperson of the JR McKenzie Youth Education Fund for our Rotary district.

Please note that this article is of general interest only and should not be taken as personal financial advice.