March 5, 2018

#metoo, Markets & March

maureen zavatone

By Maureen Zavatone

The last few months have been anything short of quiet. Starting in the Fall with #metoo, #timesup (and I hate to think….but there’s probably #whosnext) we’re in the midst of a movement of women taking charge in the workplace, identifying and outing behavior that’s not acceptable and generally getting our power re-empowered that’s hopefully a few steps ahead of the first go-around we experienced with “You’ve come a long way baby!” circa 1970.

Did any of you catch the article written by Sallie Krawcheck that appeared in the February edition of Money magazine? Sallie is a maven of the financial industry. Once called “The Last Honest Analyst”, she has held senior, C-suite level positions in some of the most prestigious Wall Street firms, which she later left in order to start a women-run investment company.

In the article, Sallie discusses similar ideas that we have previously written about here, specifically the conundrum that women face, which is that we earn less on the dollar for the same work compared to men, we lose earnings over time when taking time out of working to care for kids and aging parents, we tend to take less investment risk so we lose out on the compounding effect of dollars invested, and we generally live longer so we need our assets to support us longer. My hope is that as part of the #metoo movement, women confidently take better control of their financial lives and feel empowered to ask more probing questions about markets, risk, fees, and investment products, all of which support our overall financial well-being.

What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been

The stock market has taken us on a wild ride in recent weeks. The news media loves to hype the event (they do, after all, need to fill 24 hours of financial news on the cable stations). Not to discount the fact that some of it was dramatic, especially on that Monday afternoon when the drop was 1,000 points or more (and simultaneously my 4 year old daughter was writhing in pain in my lap with an ear infection at the pediatricians office #workingmommoment), but we do need to keep a few things in context. First, we need to remember that the S&P was up 20% over the previous 12 months with historically low volatility. Keep in mind that in January of 2017, the same financial news outlets were waiting and watching for the Dow Jones Industrial Average to close over 20,000 for the first time. And then we went through 21,000 and all the way through 26,000 in record-breaking time and with new highs achieved seemingly day after day. We weren’t surprised to see the market sell-off, and in fact it has recovered more than half of what was lost over those volatile days.   The question for you, though, is how were you feeling over those days? Did you lose sleep? Did you think about selling or did you let panic set in and start to make changes to your investments?   Did you maintain confidence in your plan and your overall asset mix? Most importantly, perhaps, do you have confidence in your advisor to help you through the uncertainty? Have they helped you create a plan that supports your overall well-being and ability to meet your obligations both now and in the future despite what the financial markets can put us through?

Knowledge is Power

March 8th is International Women’s Day in which we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and March is Women’s History Month (or I like to think Her-story month). The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Thanks to #metoo, we’re well on our way to accelerating gender parity, so I encourage you throughout the entire month of March to take control and take action to increase your knowledge and your confidence. We acknowledge the pioneering work of women like former Fed Chief Janet Yellen (first female head of the Federal Reserve) and Sallie Krawckeck who have blazed trails in roles previously dominated by men to start the #metoo of financial girl em-power-ment. You, in your own personal situation, can take positive steps today to become better informed and be more confident about the critical decisions affecting your future and the future of your family.

Girl Power

Perhaps the most meaningful thing that I have done in recent months is to affiliate with an organization called the Women’s Institute for Financial Education (WIFE, as in everybody needs a WIFE!). Alongside a few other local professionals, we have started holding monthly workshops on Saturday mornings for women considering or already going through divorce. We provide legal, mental health and financial information and considerations for women who are unfortunately facing this terrifying new reality. We give women information about how to navigate the legal process, how to care for herself and her family and how to make empowered financial decisions about various investment assets, retirement accounts and real estate. We help educate these women so they have the confidence to make informed choices and decisions regarding divorce settlements. We reduce the paralyzing fear of uncertainty by helping them understand the importance of establishing realistic operating budgets and setting reasonable expectations about her (new?) lifestyle now and into retirement. In this room, we laugh, we cry, we educate, we empower and we support. It is the most beautiful collaboration of women helping women and I’m proud to be part of it.

Do you feel empowered? Yup, #metoo.

Find out more about Maureen here:

Maureen Zavatone

Maureen Zavatone is a Financial Advisor with Morgan Stanley Global Wealth Management in Essex. The information contained in this article is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments. Any information presented is general in nature and not intended to provide individually tailored investment advice. The strategies and/or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors as the appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, LLC, member SIPC.

Maureen is our go-to gal for all things financial. Here’s another useful article she wrote for us:  10 Tips for Cleaning Your Financial House.

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