Warren Buffet invests like a girl, by Shiree Hembrow.

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

I married at 40, 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.

Bringing two independent people together in a new relationship is a miracle in itself, but for me, putting our financial lives together was more than just checking the bank balance every so often.

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.

‘Winging it’ never did cut the mustard for me.

Some of our dreams are separate. We will not do everything together all the time. Knowing what each of us wants without having to do everything together is important to me as a woman.

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, just because I got married and to a man that earns more than I do.

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 that 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 based 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, 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 and this includes 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. I want to know about commercial property, shares, and bonds. Should we buy into a farm or another business? Why not? How does diversification work?
  • 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. And 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. In New Zealand, the gender pay gap was more than 9% in the June 2019 quarter according to Stats NZ (August 2019). This means that 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.

Sorting out these issues is not dependent on how much money we have. These issues are true for the rich, and the not-so-rich.

A 2017 study conducted by Fidelity found that women earn higher returns on their investments and save more than men by about 0.4% per annum. This number may seem small, but, over time, that small number has a significant impact on their overall wealth.

Why do women, on average, make better investors than men? The research tells us that:

  • Women take a more hands-off approach to investing which allows their investments to gain a better return over the long-term. Men trade their shares 45% more than women do, on average, and trading costs money.
  • There is even a book called “Warren Buffet Invests Like A Girl and Why You Should Too”.
  • Men tend, on average, to be over-confident in their personal abilities, even when they know very little about investing. Women are more realistic about their skills.
  • With men taking a more active approach to investment, having less of a long-term view, generally less patient whilst trying to ‘win’, 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)

We have created personal financial plans for many women on their own. One professional client who had worked hard all her life, brought up her children on her own and knew she needed to save for her retirement. She did not have the time to research her options, nor the expertise as to how or what to invest in so came to me for help. She was very excited when we produced her financial plan as it was totally about her and she could see that she could, if she followed it, retire and live a better lifestyle than she had imagined during her life after work. She appreciated that we didn’t push her, but took the time for her to gain confidence in me.

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.

For us, 2020 is ‘The Year of the Personal Financial Plan,’ and remember, women make great investors when they keep to their natural instincts.