Source: Stacey Francis
Stacey Francis never planned to be a financial advisor, especially one for women who were going through a divorce. But a candid conversation with her grandmother changed her career trajectory.
Before her death, her grandmother Myra, a victim of spousal abuse, admitted to staying in her marriage because she felt “financially struggling”.
“That’s what drove me into this field,” said Francis, who founded the savvy ladiesa nonprofit that provides free financial advice and education to women, and her consulting firm Francis Finance in New York.
“This is really my love letter to my grandmother,” she said.
Francis, CFP, member of CNBC consultant CommitteeFounded Savvy Ladies in 2003 from her workshop in her New York apartment.
Today, the nonprofit is offering free virtual consultations nationwide, regardless of income Financial Hotline Connecting women with pro bono advisors.
Although organized Committed to underprivileged womenFrancis argues, people with moderate incomes or assets have limited options, such as women starting their first job, getting a divorce or seeking advice from single mothers.
“There’s just a huge number of women who desperately need this kind of financial advice,” she said.
In 2022, Savvy Ladies has connected more than 600 women with counselors, with 174 callers in April alone, according to Judy Herbst, the group’s executive director.
According to Herbst, nearly half said they earned less than $74,000 a year, and 60 percent of them said they were the only members of the household.
There is a core group of callers in their 40s and older who recognize the importance of building wealth, Herbst said. “They go from debt management and divorce to finally asking ‘how do I invest?'” she said.
Savvy Ladies also collaborates with other nonprofits on events, such as financial education seminars, she said.
While Savvy Ladies’ hotline can address a range of money issues, investment issues are common, especially among women in their 40s and older, according to Herbst.
“Our portfolio has to work harder,” said Francis, explaining how women live longer, spend more on medical bills, but typically start retirement with smaller reserves.
In fact, according to one survey, women 65 and older earned a median of $47,244 in 2016, including income, retirement income, Social Security and property. 2020 report From the National Institute for Retirement Security. However, the figure for men 65 and older was $57,144.
Women’s assets need to last until age 95, which may require higher returns if they start with less, she said. But for less experienced women, fluctuations tend to trigger more anxiety.
Francis urged women to “tend to invest” to build confidence, whether it’s working with a consultant or an organization like Savvy Ladies, taking a course or reading a book.
“Investing in women is not a good thing, it’s a must,” she said. “The stakes are higher for women.”
Savvy Ladies also mentor aspiring female entrepreneurs to leave corporate America to start a business, Francis said, while the current owner, struggling to make ends meet, knows the challenges of starting a company from scratch.
Budding entrepreneurs need to be financially prepared, she said, starting with two separate emergency funds — personal savings and business buffers, which are often overlooked.
When it comes time to leave a steady paycheck, women need a way to replace their income, such as saving six to 12 months of living expenses, creating an investment income stream, portfolio withdrawals or receiving Social Security faster, Francis said. she says.
“The most important thing is to make sure that what you’re doing is sustainable,” Francis said. “And you don’t allow yourself to be left behind financially.”
Francis recommends setting a schedule to earn a specific income, which works well for her business. For example, you could allow portfolio withdrawals for “x” years before replenishing those funds, she said.
Other women may be working at the company while running the business. “They’re going to build this business,” she said, explaining how it can bridge the income gap from employee to owner.