Friday, March 11, 2022

The gender pay gap in Canada has been an issue for decades. Women across various industries and professional levels have been experiencing economic inequality. According to Statistics Canada, women earn $0.87 for every dollar earned by men. Alongside the wage gap, there continues to be ongoing societal factors that perpetuate women being left behind when it comes to financial literacy and wellbeing.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Kim Boudreau, Certified Financial Planner at YNCU, to discuss how financial professionals can help women become more financially independent and access the same financial literacy opportunities as men. Kim shares her knowledge about the history of women and money, why women are not on the same playing field as men, and what can be done about it.

The History of Financial Inequality

In the past, women have had no decision-making power when it comes to household finances. The world consisted of traditionally male-driven workplaces and households. Dating back to the 1700s, women had no autonomy. In marriage, they simply became the property of their husbands. It wasn’t until the 1800s when the Married Women’s Property Act was passed, allowing women to own properties, assets and keep their own income.

In the 1960s, the Equity Pay Act was passed in an attempt to create more fairness in income, based on gender. In the 1970s, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act prevented credit from being denied to women on their own merit. Although we’ve come a long way, women today still lack the same financial independence and opportunities provided to men.

Kim says she still has clients who talk about the days when they were not able to get a loan or mortgage without their husbands co-signing. While men could do everything on their own merit and did not have to include their wives, women have faced challenges in their journey toward earning respect as financial equals to men.

Where Are We Today?

The representation of women in the financial industry remains an issue, especially in roles above entry-level. According to Deloitte Insights, women still only make up 24% of leadership roles within the financial services sector. Having more women in these leadership roles will help improve financial outcomes and bring in unique perspectives and ideas. It will also create mentorship opportunities for future generations.

To get to this point, it’s going to take time and proactive effort. Some effective ways for women to advocate for themselves include: education, asking questions, attending meetings, participating in discussions, meeting with other women to share ideas and create solutions and growing their confidence.

How Can We Do Better in Promoting Gender Financial Equality?

Promoting gender financial equality needs to be a collective effort in order to raise awareness and drive change. Some of the many ways financial professionals can help include: being more inclusive, asking questions directed at female clients, offering learning sessions, taking time to explain financial terms and encouraging them to ask questions and explore new resources.

Partners, family and friends can also do their part to help promote gender financial equality by encouraging women to be involved in creating and building their own financial stories. This includes understanding statements and accounts, balances, credit, retirement plans, debt and long term security and protection.

Where Do We Still Need to Go?

Although women are learning and becoming more involved with their own finances, Kim has noticed that many of her clients still defer decisions on investments, income, retirement planning, insurance and pension decisions to their spouses. This is detrimental, due to the fact that most women traditionally outlive their spouses, meaning financial decisions will impact them in the long term. Moving forward requires us to include women in discussions surrounding finances and respecting them as equals to men. This will help women feel more empowered and confident in managing their own money.

Financial Management Tips for Women

The following are some key tips and recommendations Kim shares for women looking to be better with their money:

Take the initiative to meet with your financial advisor to go through everything and ask questions.

Learn how your emotional history, experience and needs are affected by money and what you’ve learned by watching your parents and family members.

For example, if money caused stress or family strain, it was likely not a topic of discussion. Whereas, if money was plentiful and opportunities were endless, then you may have been led to believe that someone would always take care of things. Learning from your own experiences can help avoid any biases based on how you were raised to perceive money matters.

It’s important to get involved and speak up when making important decisions and sharing opinions, thoughts, needs, concerns, wishes and ideas. Financial advisors are always open to setting up a secondary meeting if you need any further information or would like to expand your knowledge on certain topics.

Women are encouraged to manage their own accounts, especially their retirement accounts and TFSAs, and not to defer all decisions to a spouse. It’s also important to use online access to banking information, read statements, ask questions and provide feedback.

Over the past 15 years, Kim has seen several women lose their spouses in situations where those spouses had already made all of their decisions regarding money. Now these women have to manage the emotional distress of losing a spouse and sort through the details of what should be done about a pension, home, the family and a new income, when they often were not involved in any discussions and planning surrounding family finances.

Kim has sat across from many worried, upset and shocked women who have to learn this all at once. It can be stressful, intimidating and upsetting for many, but she has also seen some women become empowered, sell homes they never liked, and buy ones they love. She has seen women start over, grow their assets and provide a new life for their family. These women were able to create a new monthly cash flow and imagine a life where they’re able to decide how to spend their retirement in ways they once did not think possible.

It all begins with trust in yourself, trust in a strong financial advocate and collaboration with a financial partner who can support your vision of what you want your life to be. If you have any questions or would like to talk to Kim, she can be reached at [email protected] or P: 705-942-3008 M: 705-206-2505.

Did you know that the financial industry also faces the issue of racial inequality as it relates to money? To learn more, check out our blog, Sharing Resources: Exploring Racial Inequality & Money.