How women are boosting Americans’ financial security

March is all about celebrating women’s history, and unfortunately in the world of financial advice, some of that history isn’t as big as we’d like.

For example, almost a third of the gender gap in financial literacy is attributed to women’s low confidence levels, compared to a knowledge gap, according to at the Global Center of Excellence in Financial Literacy. And while 85% of women control their family’s day-to-day finances, few control long-term financial planning decisions. UBS reports.

Although these statistics are disheartening, I would like to believe that our future is bright. I’ve spent more than half my career trying to find better ways to engage women – as advisors and clients – and show the value of financial planning. Some of these approaches included raising awareness by increasing the visibility of female advisors, because “you can’t be what you can’t see”.

One of the ways our industry engages women is through pro bono financial planning. For over a decade I have been involved in the Foundation for Financial Planning (FFP).

Through its grantmaking and signature programs, including its new volunteer matching platform, ProBonoPlannerMatch.org — FFP helps provide opportunities for advisors to provide one-on-one pro bono financial planning to families in need.

FFP’s efforts have reached more than 500,000 people who would otherwise have been deprived of quality financial advice amid financial crises. The majority of those served are women, and many of them are single mothers.

Tens of thousands of advisors volunteered their time and expertise to help. As it is Women’s History Month, I will highlight some of the women volunteers and non-profits focused on creating financial independence for women.

A few years ago, Cindy became involved in Prepare +Prosperan FFP grant recipient who helps low-to-middle income individuals achieve financial stability through tax assistance clinics, a financial mentorship program, and more.

Cindy’s advice to other planners? “Know that you absolutely can help. This might not be the kind of help you normally give paid clients, but you absolutely can help. You might not be making a comprehensive financial plan, but you can listen to them and you can help them grow financially.

She also encourages planners to be patient and understand that obstacles such as child care, public transportation, or work hours and tasks can make it harder for pro bono clients to prioritize financial planning.

Erica is a volunteer with the FFP scholarship holder, Britepaths, where she acts as a pro bono financial planner and mentor (a typical mentoring relationship lasts about 6 months). As a mentor for a woman, Erica has found that “in addition to providing [financial] education, I was a responsible partner for her.

She often reviews this woman’s purchases with her and reminds her to think about her budget and financial goals before making a purchase, not because she needs permission to spend, but because it wants an objective sounding board.

Cindy and Erica are just two of the financial planners who provide pro bono support. They create visible role models for women to realize they can take control of their financial future.

FFP currently supports several grantees whose funded programs focus on supporting women on their journey to financial stability:

Sarah J. Greer