Thursday, August 27, 2009

Women, Wealth and Charitable Giving: Personality, Demographics or A Bit of Both?

Robert Frank recently wrote about the charitable giving of women vs. men in his blog, Wealth Report,

He reported the findings of a new survey by Barclay’s: Wealthy women give away nearly twice as much as of their wealth as their male counterparts. The survey of 500 people with investible assets of $1 million or more found that men give an average of 1.8% while women give an average of 3.5% of their wealth to charity.

And it isn’t just a U.S. phenomenon. In the U.K., women give an average of 0.8%, compared with 0.5% for men, the survey shows.

“Yes, the finding confirms stereotypes. But it also has big implications for the future of philanthropy,” states Frank. The study also highlights how the charitable decisions are made with women looking for input and collaboration and men often making decisions on their own. According to Frank, “wealthy women donors, therefore, will be more likely to work in partnership with charities, rather than dictating terms. That is in stark contrast to the “My-way-or-highway” tendencies of venture philanthropy.”

“The future of philanthropy may ultimately lie in understanding how men and women might work in partnership,” says Matthew Brady, Managing Director, Barclay’s Wealth in the Americas. “It’s going to be much more collaborative.”

It’s been my experience that women are motivated by affiliation and desire input and collaboration. Even if they have earned their own money, they are motivated to establish and nurture relationships with their money. They still look for input, others’ needs for the money and terms vs. dictating all of the terms and conditions. It’s just their tendency to have a stronger need for affiliation than for power.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Money Personalities: Bliss or Bickering?

Money permeates every relationship in life and acts as a powerful force in enhancing similarities and reinforcing differences. In my research and work with couples over the years and helping them in their money management challenges, I found it fascinating that the most compatible couples shared similar money personality traits and values , The old adage, "opposites attract", just didn't hold true among the couples that seemed to use money well together. The opposites I did see in money personalities came to see me because money became the symptom of emotional differences and discord and the scapegoat for all that was going wrong.

So, today when I read the article, "In Spending Matters, Opposites' Attraction Fuels Conflict" in the International Herald Tribune,, I wasn't surprised to find that researchers had found that people who were described as "spendthrifts" and "tightwads" tended to marry. These "dichotomized duos" reported more unhappy marriages than people with more similar attitudes toward spending. These "financially polar pairs" reported greater conflict over money and lower levels of marital bliss.

This makes sense to me because the spending/saving trait is the most obvious to see in action with couples. The tugging and control over the purse strings becomes obvious with all purchase decisions. Money becomes the symbol of differing opinions and values with a compromise hard to reach considering how far apart the saver and spender are on this trait.

In consulting with opposite money personalities like the Achievers (savers and accumulators of wealth) and the Hunters (emotional spenders), their conflicts were obvious. Achievers get turned on by watching their money accumulate while the Hunters' greatest joy is a great shopping treasure hunt.

You would think that this obvious difference in money personalities would be a warning signal in considering marriage and managing money together. Unfortunately, couples plunge ahead not wanting to make such affairs of the wallet a priority.

There is hope if couples are willing to do the hard work to reach compromise and compatibility. If they're willing to explore each other's perspective and reach the most suitable solution that satisfies both partner's needs without jeopardizing security, then whatever differences they have can be managed for mutual satisfaction.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Preparing for Retirement by Doing and Feeling

I read an article in the N.Y. Times, A Boot Camp to Prepare for Retirement;">and I was impressed by what two financial planners had developed. They created a simulation for their clients and allowed them to experience how they were feeling about a new phase of life. In many ways, I would imagine participants have a new understanding of what’s so intimidating and often depressing about the “R” word as many of my clients refer to retirement.

About 8 years ago, I was thinking along the same lines and had proposed a similar program to the local university. I was just moving to Sarasota and thought it would be a great venue for participants and a way for Sarasota to show off what a wonderful city this is for retirement by inviting pre-retirees for several weekends during the year to go through a weekend workshop.

Timing was not in my favor so the program was not accepted by the university but it’s been in the back of my mind ever since as a highly worthwhile endeavor; abbreviated versions have worked well so a longer process would be even more beneficial.

When I read about Tillotson and Kennefick, I was absolutely delighted; someone had actually developed such a program. Brava.

We don’t have many opportunities to reinvent ourselves and I have seen too many people misjudge, miscalculate and misrepresent their retirement plans. Being able to live out the “what-if’s” is a wonderful opportunity to get it right saving valuable time and resources.