It is said that women have different financial objectives to men. Research and experience tell us that women want to derive more meaning from their money. They also spend differently, such as spending more on the needs of their family and extended family. Indeed, there are many articles for women giving advice on financial planning, particularly for divorcees and widows. They are all helpful and have good advice. But it does raise the question of how valid gender stereotyping is when considering financial planning.
Do men not want to derive meaning from their money or help their extended families? Why do we rarely see advice for men who have lost their partners through divorce or death?
Perhaps the true reasons are that society do not have a healthy outlook on financial planning for families. I believe that we have accepted that men should focus on building the family’s financial capital while women should work on building human and social capital - these forms of capital include the family and social relationships, the emotional and physical being of the children and the wider family. This segmenting explains why men are generally left financially secure at the end of a marriage, compared to women who are socially secure when they lose their spouses but often financially devastated. While this societal norm may no longer be entirely true for the younger generations, the burden on women to build human and social capital of the family often interferes with their ability to build financial capital.
It is time that we plan holistically for everyone - the individual, the individual in the context of family and the family as a whole. It is time that we plan for all aspects of life and recognise that all the forms of capital are necessary for the well-being of men and women. Each one should build their own capital. And if one is more successful in building a particular capital whilst the other is better at building the remaining types of capital then it is up to us to work that out in a conscious and compassionate way.
It is after all what good financial planning is about – making the money work for a good life for everyone.
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//19 August 2022.