What’s important to you about working with women in their early careers?
In early 2022, I talked with a financial planner with whom I would be giving a joint presentation on the topic of financial life planning. As we were getting to know each other, he—in true financial life planner style—asked me that question.
I had to ask him if it was okay to curse before I answered because my answer went something like this:
Because I see far too many women who are so capable and competent, but who have been convinced, directly or indirectly, by the people or other forces in their lives that they don’t understand finances and will make wrong decisions on their own. And FUCK THAT.
There are many reasons why we at Flow specialize in working with women in their early-to-mid career in the tech industry, especially if you’re in a pre-IPO company. I want to discuss just this one in this blog post.
Competence and Confidence
We all contend with input on our personal finances from our family, friends, colleagues, Slack channels, fintech advertising, traditional finance company advertising, and so on.
I too often see that women, in response to these forces, feel far less confident about their ability to make smart money decisions than their general level of smarts and competence would suggest.
So, such women feel under-confident about their ability to manage their own money. Then they run smack up against other people who are very confident and are sometimes tempted to follow that confident lead.
The big problem, however, is that:
confidence ≠ competence
I’m biased, I know, but I can’t imagine a topic where this is more true than personal finance and investing.
Those people who proclaim loudly and confidently their opinions on How To Money seem to focus on a pretty short list of topics:
- Optimizing to the first decimal point your asset allocation (the balance of different kinds of investments and risks in your portfolio)
- When/if to sell company stock
- Choosing this stock over the other
- How much this cryptocurrency or that sh*tcoin is going to the moon (ah…I started this blog post about 6 months ago, when this was definitely top of mind…what a difference half a year will make!)
- Other “alternative” investment choices
- How you can retire by the age of 38
Topics that, in my humble opinion, you can almost universally ignore and be Just Fine, and probably even Really Good.
What Really Matters (Where True Competence Lies)
The topics that get largely ignored in the financial media and Slack channels and “cocktail party” conversations are largely boring to anyone but you (which is, of course, why they’re not covered in any of those forums).
They are also, perhaps not coincidentally, the most important topics in your financial life:
- Life, disability, and all sorts of other insurance coverage. You don’t have the proper long-term disability insurance and get in a bad accident? How are you going to pay your bills over the next months and years?
- Estate planning documents. You get in a car accident and end up in a coma without proper estate planning? The state gets to decide who makes decisions on your behalf.
- Less technical, but perhaps most important of all: Who are you? What do you value? What kind of life do you want?
All of those important topics are intensely personal and therefore no one else can—or at the very least, no one else should—have any say in your decisions.
All the #personalfinance and #equity Slack channels at work or the r/personalfinance subReddit are filled with the minutiae of how your equity comp plans work and how to minimize taxes and how you should sell or hold or exercise or withhold, and how you should choose your investments and bragging about how well your investments have done (conveniently choosing to not include all your investments that have done poorly)…whew, I’m exhausted.
There are a lot of people who know a lot of stuff in those forums. The problem is:
- It’s hard to tell them from the people who don’t but just talk Real Confident Like.
- Their technical knowledge is often utterly irrelevant to you. You need [this much] technical knowledge and [THAT MUCH] personal knowledge to make good personal financial decisions.
If I could convince women in tech in general of only one thing, it’d be:
Stop thinking that you know less useful information about personal finance than the people around you. ‘Cause, spoiler, you probably don’t.
And even if there is a knowledge deficit, it is not rocket science to learn it.
You want to know what the hard part of personal finance is?
Knowing yourself. Managing your behavior.
And that challenge applies to everyone, from those blowhards to the kindly, helpful people in your life. Why? Because we all have the same lizard brain that is totally not suited to modern life.
So take heart! Whether you feel it or not, you are probably far better equipped to make financial decisions than you think you are. Sure, you might benefit from getting some advice or guidance, but remember that you are always the expert on what’s right for you. Even when it comes to money.
The earlier you learn this lesson, the earlier you take personal responsibility for your finances, the earlier you recognize that you can and should invest (figuratively and literally!) in your own personal financial journey, the more strength and choice you will have in every coming year.
It’s actually pretty darn exciting to think about.
And that, Dear Reader, is what’s important to us about working with women in their early careers.
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Disclaimer: This article is provided for educational, general information, and illustration purposes only. Nothing contained in the material constitutes tax advice, a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security, or investment advisory services. We encourage you to consult a financial planner, accountant, and/or legal counsel for advice specific to your situation. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Flow Financial Planning, LLC, and all rights are reserved. Read the full Disclaimer.