The silver lining of fear and uncertainty


As the country entered the Covid-19 pandemic, there were bleak predictions for women’s financial health: they faced more divorces, job losses and cuts in pension contributions. More time spent caring and less time spent making money.

Two years later, many of those predictions have come true. But some anecdotal trends are emerging that could end up being positive for women. Going forward, there will be more clarity about what financial security means, and women will be more interested in consolidating their financial goals to reflect their personal goals. Additionally, women outlive men, which has prompted some demographers to predict that they will eventually control most of the wealth in the developed world.

Catherine Seeber, vice president and CFP at CAPTRUST in Lewes, Delaware, said reports of Covid-19’s impact on marriage range from “Covid puts a strain on families” to “No, it makes them more strong”. While the Daily Mail reports that divorce rates in the United States are skyrocketing, the New York Post says they are falling.

There’s only one thing Seeber is sure of, she says: “In America, as with many things, the pandemic has seemed to be accelerating the divorce rate. I don’t think I’ll see more. It’s just that people who used to go there seem to get there faster.

Lili Vasileff, president of the Greenwich, Conn., Wealth Protection Management firm, is also trained in mediation, and she says the statistics on divorce and the shared assets that go with it will be misleading for some time, regardless of the source. . Even in 2020, she says, she’s seen a big spike in her divorce clients’ workload.

“What made it different was that they weren’t going to court, because the courts were closed. But for most people who were struggling in their marriage and were considering divorce, those plans accelerated. They just had to find other ways to divorce,” says Vasileff. “So they turned to divorce arbitrations, where it’s only at the end that a filing is made. So I think in 2022 you’ll see those filings intensify a lot.

Vasileff says January is usually “divorce month,” and this year was no different. In 2020, everything was calm from March to fall, but the pace of divorces picked up after that and it was a busy time for marriage dissolutions throughout 2021. “Now it’s busy in crazy pace,” she continued. “And the increase is most noticeable in late divorces, in the mid-1950s and beyond.”

Seeber says brokers and registered investment advisers could and should be doing a lot more to connect with older female clients. Even if they don’t divorce, their situation will change as they will receive the $30 trillion wealth transfer by the end of the decade. This should make it easier for advisors to connect with those clients than before and connect in a meaningful way that helps them retain those clients’ assets, if they’re willing to put in the effort.

“If you asked women 10 years ago what scared them the most, it was being the woman with the bag. That’s not what I hear today. Now I hear that the fear is about health, family and mortality,” says Seeber. “Women are showing more interest in knowing more about their finances than they did pre-Covid because they worry about what might happen. if someone gets sick or if they get sick themselves. Women usually have this big short-term view where they focus on the budget. But it’s slowly shifting to where they look more at the dynamics of the long-term investment. To connect with that, you need to pick up the phone more frequently. And the question you’re asking isn’t, ‘How are you?’ It’s too vague. It’s ‘How are you today?’

Vasileff agrees that new times demand new conversations, especially with women whose lives have been turned upside down during the pandemic. They may have lost their job or business, had to quit their job to care for children at home or elderly parents, or lost a spouse through death or divorce.

“I think women are realizing that they need to be more responsible to themselves. That’s been the lesson, and it’s not a happy lesson,” says Vasileff. going forward, they have to have a plan in place. But they had a plan in place. They just feel like they’re starting from zero because they weren’t connected at all to what they had before.

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