The Junior League of Tulsa (JLT) recently welcomed Lisa Zaidle Clark of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management to provide a women-focused financial presentation entitled, “Picture Your Prosperity.” Clark is a Senior Vice President, Financial Advisor, and Financial Planning Specialist with the Clark/McKinney/Tramontana Group. Her presentation focused on what women need to know to build a stable foundation in an ever-changing financial landscape. Clark began with a basic overview of financial terms and explained investments, retirement plan options, stocks and bonds to ensure all attendees had a general understanding before moving to an in-depth discussion.
She explained that the first savings priority should be retirement, especially if your company offers a match. Maxing out the matching amount is important, as is starting early. Clark reported that retirement plans are used significantly less by women in the workforce. Chris Oden, JLT active member, commented, “I found it astonishing that only 46% of women are contributing to retirement plans through their employer. If their company offers a match contribution, they are literally refusing free money.” Clark went on to explain the benefits of starting early, compound interest and increasing your savings as your income increases. “People are living longer, and they typically underestimate their own life expectancy.” Many in the audience were surprised to hear from Clark that there is a 50% chance that they or their spouse could live to be ninety or older, driving home the importance of saving more than you think you might need for retirement.
Then, Clark focused on financial challenges that are unique to women. “Women hold the burden of care,” she explained. “Many women today are in the ‘sandwich generation’ and are caring for their own children as well as their aging parents. Sixty-six percent of family caregivers are women.” Women are often the ones to put their careers on hold to manage caregiving. This results in fewer working years and income inequality, potentially lowering the retirement and savings potential even further. Clark noted that women are also less risk tolerant and tend to take no below average or even average risks with investments. Clark’s advice is to stay invested. “Successful investment involves patience,” she explained. She instructed the group not to let fear get the best of them when the market turns down. The volatility of the market can often be frightening, but keeping your money invested over many years will ultimately benefit you in the long run.
After covering the basics of investing, she moved on to planning for the unexpected. Divorce and death of a spouse or loved one can be both emotionally and financially devastating. Planning for the unexpected expenses that come with aging family members can help ease the burden later on. Clark explained that healthcare costs are not the only expenses to plan for. People should be planning for legal services, accounting, additional insurance and more. One topic that seemed to surprise the group was the importance of disability insurance. Clark said plainly, “Disability insurance is just as important as life insurance. You are more likely to become disabled than die early.”
While sometimes startling, Clark’s advice comes from a place of caring as she understands the many complicated financial challenges that people, especially women, face today. She also underscored the importance of women becoming and staying involved in family financial decisions. After death or divorce, 80% of women change financial advisors. This statistic is particularly telling of women’s lack of involvement in financial decisions. Clark advises women to be comfortable taking ownership in family finances and encourages couples to choose a financial adviser together. In addition to her presentation, Clark also provided each attendee with a family records organizer and information on what to do as a surviving spouse and planning for unexpected financial challenges. “After listening to Lisa’s presentation, I felt more empowered to make financial decisions for my family,” said Meggie Gaskins, JLT active member. “She gave me a lot of things to think about when planning for retirement, savings, and managing family finances.”
Clark’s presentation is one of several offered by the JLT Training, Education, and Achievement Committee for the 2019-20 League year. In 2016, JLT established the Training, Education, and Achievement (TEA) Committee to provide specific opportunities for members to develop new skills, learn about new ways to help the Tulsa community, and recognize and steward future women leaders. Active and Provisional members are required to attend one hour of TEA training each year.