Has anyone been a subscriber to the “For Dummies” books?  The term seems negative, but it really is about simplifying a message. Same with the KISS acronym (keep it simple, stupid).

Take financial planning, for example. This is something that can seem overwhelming and complex. Secondarily, financial planning may be last thing on the minds of young women just starting out in their careers. While it is a very exciting time, it also is an expensive time period. After all, many are paying off student loans, purchasing their first new car, buying a house and maybe even starting a family. It’s hard to even think about saving for the future. 

However, financial security should be a focus throughout your career. We cannot work forever, nor should we want to.  Knowing this, ASA’s Women In Industry council provided interview questions for 2017 incoming Chair Ashley Martin (NIBCO), who sat down with Liz Borger, senior vice president at Stifel Nicolaus, to get the skinny on financial planning and guide us in this journey.


What are the most important things to consider when choosing a financial planner?

I would look for strength of the company they are with. You should put your money with a firm that is reputable and financially sound. They will have more resources to the client. You also should consider how many years this company has been in the industry, their credentials and education. You want to make sure there is a personal fit as well. You have to be comfortable with your financial planner.


What qualities or characteristics should be present in a good financial planner?

They should have good listening skills. They should be empathic so they can understand your needs. They should have analytical skills and tenacity.


What advice would you give your younger self about financial planning?

I would tell my younger self to start planning sooner. My dad handled my accounts for a long time. I wish I was more involved in my early 20s. I would have been more self-sufficient and I would have realized I love this industry sooner and gotten in earlier.


For a woman (person) just out of college, what is the one thing she needs to do to be financially responsible?

They should learn about the 401k or company plan and get involved as soon as they can. They should also learn about investing. They should read a business newspaper or magazine so they have a general understanding. I recommend The Week. It is a good snapshot of the financial markets and what is going on.


When should a woman (someone) start planning for retirement?

They should start as soon as they start working. Utilize the company plan and use the tools they give you. If you start at 20 years old and want to retire at 60, that could mean 30 years of not working. You need to start as soon as you come to be able to live for 30 years without working.


What should all women (people) do when planning for retirement?

They should seek out ways to benefit from tax advantages such as a 401k or Roth IRA. A Roth IRA needs to be started when they are young. Once you hit a certain salary level, you can no longer add to or open a Roth IRA.


What are common mistakes that all people make when trying to financially plan for their future?

 1) They think it is far away and they don’t need to worry about it. 2) They don’t take enough risk. Time takes away some risk. 3) Not paying attention to the structure of the accounts – 401k, Roth IRA and personal accounts. You should have a 3-6-month cushion in case something would happen.


What are some common myths surrounding financial planning?

1) It is too complex to understand. 2) It isn’t women friendly.


What can someone personally do to help in their own financial planning?  Are there any websites that give great advice for those looking to manage their finances on their own?

Some websites that seem to be popular with new investors are “Market Watch,” “Google Finance” and “The Motley Fool.” One of my personal favorites for all types of news is The Week. It is an overview of all types of information, with investing being one among them. Then there are the classics such as Barron’s, The Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily and Forbes among many others.


Why should you utilize a professional financial planner — is it for everyone?

I would compare it to accounting. If someone does your taxes, you will probably like having a professional financial planner. If you do your own taxes, you will probably like financially planning on your own. I think it is for almost everyone. You should utilize a professional financial planner anytime there is a major life event — getting started, getting an initial plan, changing careers or jobs, planning for college or a house, getting married or divorced, buying or selling a business, receiving an inheritance or planning your estate.

Take financial responsibility for your financial future no matter where you are in your career path.