An interest of mine that I haven't talked much about: Financial Literacy. I am becoming increasingly interested in this subject as I travel my journey from financial ignorance to empowerment. It may be hard to make it sexy, but financial literacy is absolutely critical for anyone who is responsible for any sum of money.
I'm a beginning learner, but I've worked hard over recent years to get my money shit into shape. I read a lot, and the picture that emerges as I transition from consumer magazines to "financial page" coverage to books is a shocking one. Only the beauty industry, perhaps, profits so shamelessly by spreading lies and distortions and preying on our insecurities.
That's important enough that I'll say it again:
financial industry = lies and distortions and preying on our insecurities
Nearly everything I have to say on the subject applies to everyone, men and women alike, but hey, I'm here for the sisters so I'm not going to bother with inclusive language for now. I'm picturing us in my living room, with the coffee on, and this dialog is going to be ongoing, so I invite you to join in.
Let's introduce the subject by looking at a recent essay in the NYT by M.P. Dunleavey titled "Mars, Venus and the Handling of Money." Dunleavey, a financial writer and founding editor of DailyWorth, gets a number of things dangerously wrong. A gentle summation of the essay is that women have different learning styles and financial strategy styles than men, which isn't a bad thing, but one that purveyors of financial products should attend to and address.
But here's the core flaw in that view, which I plan to return to over and over until all of you take your money out of high-churn, high-fee vehicles: we (women) don't need different handling by people trying to sell us money management. We need to simply walk away, straight to simple investment and management techniques that we can do *almost by ourselves* without the dubious "assistance" of people earning a cut on every decision we make.
Take a look at some of the sources quoted in the article--and the true source of this data:
“The reality,” Nicole Sherrod, managing director of active trading at TD Ameritrade, told me, “is that women gather information about money differently and process it differently than men do, not that we’re less intelligent.” [TD Ameritrade makes money when you buy and sell--churn--your investments, often at a cost to you in fees, tax effects, and poor timing and decision making.]
Nearly 75 percent of women want to learn in a “welcoming” environment with other women, new data from Allianz Life shows. [Allianz Life is an insurance company, among other things a purveyor of one of the most enduring and egregious scams sold today, the whole life policy.]
Ameriprise says it’s retraining more than 10,000 advisers to be more responsive to female clients — and doubling its training budget this year to do so. [Really??? Ameriprise, another company that makes its money on your financial back, is not doing this out of any sense of sisterly solidarity or respect: this is a money grab, pure and simple. "Responsiveness" in this context means "more likely to talk you into investing.]
Shame on those who participate in this continuing misinformation campaign. I suppose it's a bit much to expect a news source that basically sells coverage of this industry to go rooting out the poison within, but I expect better.
Wow, I didn't realize I felt *quite* so strongly about this. More to come, friends.
P.S. In fairness to Ms. Dunleavey, much of what she says in the article is of value and merits discussion. Some of her best advice can be found here.