Building A Financial Future: Women & Wealth

Contributed by Deborah Adeyanju, CFA, Founder and Financial Writer, Creative Financial Writing

ModeratorWhat’s the single most important thing to do to build a successful financial future? That was one of the questions asked, and answered, at the Financial Women of San Francisco’s (FWSF) Women & Wealth Panel on Tuesday, February 11. The powerhouse panel featured Elaine Martyn, Vice President, Relationship Management for the Private Donor Group at Fidelity Charitable®, Susan Mazzetti, Vice President and Senior Financial Advisor, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, Leslie Miller, Financial Advisor and Owner, Miller Pacific Financial Advisors Margaret Reid, Vice President, Senior Portfolio Manager, The Private Bank at Union Bank, and Sabrina Ho Stimel, Tax Partner, KPMG LLP, with Jane Hartley, Director, Private Wealth Advisor, Private Wealth Management, Union Bank, moderating.

Panel of women and wealth event

In addition to answering that question, the panelists addressed gaining confidence, building a team of experts, choosing a financial advisor, and smart tax strategies for retaining more of your assets along with getting started in impact investing and charitable giving. Below are highlights.

1. The single most important thing to do to build a successful financial future

Spend less than you make after taxes. Leslie explained, “during our working life we need to save and/or acquire enough to take care of ourselves for the next 30 years.” She went on to advise that women do some financial planning “10-15 years before retirement to understand how much you want to spend in retirement and if you have the resources to support yourself.”

Along those lines, Sue spoke to how important it is “to capitalize on the opportunities you have to save for retirement” by maxing out your retirement savings; and funding an IRA if you don’t have an employer-provided plan.

2. “Don’t let the tax tail wag the dog.”

That was Sabrina’s advice when it comes to taxes and investing. While she cautioned against basing decisions to get in or out of investments on tax considerations, she also shared how strategically timing your asset sales can avoid federal capital gains taxes. And she gave pointers on tax-smart ways to transfer wealth between generations, including through using gift tax exemptions.

3. “Empowerment leads to more confidence which leads to better decision-making.”

That belief is encapsulated in Margaret’s recommendation of Melinda Gates’ book “The Moment of Lift” for its illustration of “what a woman can do” and how that can impact people worldwide. And she wasn’t alone. Each of the panelists shared her recommended reading for women who want to educate themselves and become more empowered in making investing, personal finance, and wealth-building decisions.

  • Leslie recommended personal finance site NerdWallet as a great, and importantly, “independent source of financial information.” She also chose “The One Page Financial Plan” – and the process it covers as beneficial in “taking the fear away. Thinking through questions helps clarify for you the answers to decisions you’ll be making in the future.”
  • Elaine described “Becoming Wise” as “food for the soul.”
  • For Sabrina: “How to Raise Successful Kids” imparted lessons on having grit, challenging the status quo, and not just doing what you’re told.
  • Sue’s pick was “Raising Financially Fit Kids” for how to teach children “to be stewards of our wealth,” while noting that it contains advice for people of all ages.
  • Jayne chose “Being Mortal” as particularly clarifying in getting to a sense of what’s important.

Needless to say, along with dropping valuable financial, tax, and investing knowledge, the panelists left attendees feeling inspired and empowered! Stay tuned for FWSF’s upcoming events, including a “What’s Ahead for the Bay Area Real Estate market in 2020?”panel.

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