Own your financial future project
6 August 2019 at 7:30 am
A new grant-funded project aims to demystify basic investment and financial concepts and empower women over 55 to have conversations with their partners, children and financial advisers, writes Silvana Eccles, national education and operations manager at Australian Shareholders Association.
Like many NFPs, ASA has an education mission. We have been educating investors since 1960, but it is apparent that improving financial literacy is the first step in assisting people before they embark on an investment journey. When considering how best to approach this objective, our research showed that there is a particularly vulnerable cohort of older women who, because women outlive men, are likely to inherit a financial plan, self-managed super fund or investment portfolio with little knowledge or confidence about how to deal with it.
This vulnerability is compounded by the fact that in an older demographic, investment management has often been gendered. That is, while women are expert at managing household expenses, they have frequently not been involved in making investment decisions. The worst time to become familiar with these matters is in a crisis if a partner becomes ill or dies. Also, if women find themselves inheriting money, one of the things that concerns us is that often children step up and say, “It’s okay Mum, I’ll do it”, yet the children might not be competent or worse, they could be predatory, as elder financial abuse is on the rise.
Protecting women so they can make decisions about their financial future is key to a grant-funded project ASA is running this year. Our Own Your Financial Future project is designed to empower women over 55 whose partners have always managed the finances with an understanding of basic investment and financial concepts knowledge. We aim to demystify these concepts and assist women to understand them. Another objective is to give women 55+ the confidence to have conversations with their partners, children and financial advisers about how the investments and finances are structured.
The women participate in a half-day, free workshop. It covers basic investment concepts and introduces women to the concept of the financial plan, financial goals as well as touching on the jargon used by professional advisers. It also canvasses managing the discussion about financial affairs. It helps women work out what their financial resources are currently and what they want to do with them, particularly in relation to ensuring they have a comfortable retirement.
Each workshop comprises no more than 15 women, so that there is a safe, intimate space in which to discuss money. We provide a workbook with information that can be referred to after the workshop with lists of resources and potential pathways for greater learning.
The pilot project ran successfully in Victoria in 2018, and in 2019 we are running 36 workshops across the country, incorporating evaluation from the pilot. The independent evaluation report of the pilot project demonstrated that the workshops achieved the objectives of the program – the women reported improved confidence regarding having financial discussions with their partner, family members or a professional adviser.
The report showed that:
- over 90 per cent of the participants indicated the workshops increased both their confidence and investment knowledge; and
- during the follow-up interviews conducted by the evaluator, approximately half advised that they would make changes as a result of attending the workshops.
Making the workshops women-only was reported a huge benefit, as it was clear the women felt comfortable to ask what they thought might be considered “silly questions” and opened up in discussion. The women found this particularly helpful if their husbands have been the ones who have managed the finances.
If you know a female aged over 55 who has not been actively engaged in the management of her financial affairs and you believe she would benefit from participation in this free program, share this information. We make the point that “it’s your money and you can decide what you want to do with it” and you can assist us to help women take control of their finances.
Find out more: https://australianshareholders.com.au/fin-lit-project