I was motivated to write this book many years ago when I sat down with my sister to discuss her financial plan. I had just become a professional financial advisor, and my sister Denine was one of the first clients I presented my financial consulting services to without my manager. Denine is seven years older than I so this was the first time I found myself in the position of attempting to advise her. Denine is well-educated, she has always had a great career, and honestly, she has always had her life in order. It was me my mom had concerns about, but after I completed college and embarked on my career, all the doubts went away.
When I began the preliminary questions portion, I remember asking Denine about her investment portfolio and her financial plan. I was a little surprised she didn’t have either. At the time, she was an elementary school principal and had made a significant amount of money.
“Denine, why don’t you have a financial plan or an investment portfolio?”
“I don’t know anything about investments…”
“Well, why didn’t you get a financial advisor?”
“Honestly, I don’t know where to start. What questions to ask. Who to trust.”
“Great, now you do. You have me.”
This was a very eye-opening moment for me because I have always admired my sister and followed in her footsteps. I later reflected upon our conversation and wondered to myself, How many other women might be in this situation? I decided to do some research, which eventually led to this book. I found there were MANY educated and successful women who were in the same situation. Money management and investing just wasn’t something they focused on; they were solely focused on their chosen professions.
Once I decided to write the book, I thought about how I could write a book about something many women wanted to understand, but quite honestly, may not want to read about. How could I make the book relevant, informative, powerful, and interesting? How could I grab and keep the interest and attention of women regarding finances and investing? Then it hit me: they don’t want to hear from me, they want to hear from people whom they can relate to, not some financial nerd.
***Real quick, you may ask WHY should I take advice from a man? To answer this, I reached out to Cheryl, who I met at an investment seminar on Wall Street. First, when I met Cheryl, she told me her father was a stockbroker at EF Hutton and all she ever wanted to be was a stockbroker.
“Mark, I received good grades in school. I took a lot of math classes so I would have a strong foundation, and in college, I did internships at EF Hutton my last two summers before I graduated. I also graduated at the top of my class, but when I applied to be a stockbroker at EF Hutton, they told me I was too young and plus, ‘You’re a woman.’ I went to a few more brokerages and they made me job offers. When EF Hutton found out someone was willing to hire me, they made me an offer, and I took it.
“You know Mark, when I started in this business over thirty-eight years ago, ten percent of the brokers were women. Do you know how many it is now?”
“I don’t know Cheryl, thirty percent?”
“No Mark, it’s fifteen percent. Thirty-eight years later! We have made gains, but not a lot.”
For those of you too young to remember, EF Hutton was a very popular stock brokerage until 1988 when they closed after the market crash in 1987. Most will remember their commercial: “When EF Hutton speaks, People listen.”
I asked Cheryl, “I’ve told you about my book. Do you think women would be better served by another woman? Should women seek to be advised by a woman?”
“Absolutely not, Mark. I think women and everybody else should seek the best advisor for them. They should work with someone they are comfortable with, just like if it were a doctor. The fact that you have done so much research specifically for women is a plus, but clients still need to feel comfortable with you.”
So, I went on a journey to enlist women to share their stories, “Woman to Woman,” with the goal of helping each other. It was amazing how many women wanted to participate in sharing their stories. Some had it all together, and some were in poor financial shape and needed help. Of course, there were those who fell somewhere in the middle.
It was often stated, “If somebody can be better off because I have shared my story, then I will share.”
I added my expertise in examining the women’s stories and made suggestions on how they can improve their situations, which will be helpful if you are in a similar situation. These situations can range from what to do with your money right out of college, how to manage money as a professional, a wife, a divorcee, even as a widow.
A brief background on my expertise: I have owned a financial services company that has helped hundreds of individuals and companies with investments, financial strategies, accounting, and organizational design for over twenty-five years. I also served as the financial expert for the CBS affiliate in Cleveland, Ohio, WOIO, informing audiences about the impacts of the financial markets on their finances and I have spoken at hundreds of financial seminars including periodic Women and Investing Seminars. My extensive knowledge, experience, and caring approach has helped me get access to women who willingly share concerns about their most challenging financial issues and trust me to help guide them through their challenges.
The good thing about having so many real-life stories is everyone can find a story they can relate to. Each chapter has at least one story of a woman who has done almost everything right to give you an example of what that looks like. This book serves to be your motivation to achieve this feat in your own life. Financial freedom when achieved, can provide an amazing lifestyle, and you can achieve it!
In addition to these life-changing testimonials from real women around the country, I have added information to reveal the facts about why you must invest your money! I also reveal how I was able to obtain relevant information from hundreds of women to gain insight into how to really help you identify money challenges and correct the challenge to get on the right track.. I explain in laymen’s terms the complex language of money. I explain 401Ks, mutual funds, stocks and bonds, annuities, and many more investment terms. And most importantly, I give a step-by-step guide on how to get your financial life in order, the ultimate win.
What I don’t do is make specific investment recommendations. I read a book where the author made recommendations on where to invest. In my opinion, that’s irresponsible. Consider this: the top companies on Wall Street at the time I am writing this book are Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google. When the book I am referring to was written, they recommended investing in companies like IBM. The top companies I just referenced didn’t even exist yet and they may not exist years after this book is released. Investments need to be individualized. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.