Women’s finances: always the same obstacles

27 November 2023 by National Bank La Presse
Two women discuss the importance of financial literacy

Over the next decade, it’s estimated that approximately $900 billion in assets will pass from one generation to the next in the largest transfer of wealth in Canadian history. 1 Some of these female successors may be preparing to take over the family business. Some may be thinking about the future for the assets they’ll have accumulated. And some may be preparing for their children’s or loved one’s futures. What do they all have in common? It’s in her best interest to keep a close eye on her money. Two National Bank experts explain why. 

A illustration of 4 women and the National Bank logo.

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Inequalities in financial knowledge 

Inequity in financial literacy and a lack of exposure to managing their household finances may explain why fewer women than men feel comfortable making financial decisions. The proportion of women who correctly answered all five questions in the most recent Canadian Financial Capability Survey is about 30% lower than that of men. 2 In heterosexual couples where the spouse is primarily responsible for finances, the gap widens to 70%. 

"In a couple’s division of labour, women tend to entrust the management of finances to their spouses. This can be a good arrangement, as long as regular discussions are planned to take stock of their finances.” – Lucie Blanchet, Executive Vice-President, Personal Banking and Client Experience, National Bank 

However, there are many obstacles for women. The mental load and family responsibilities leave little time to take an interest in money. Not to mention that female role models in the financial industry are rare. 

"Talking about money is sometimes wrongly associated with a capitalist discourse that does not correspond to the feminine ideal that society projects." – Nancy Paquet, Executive Vice-President, Wealth Management, National Bank  

Seeing financial health differently 

While not the most romantic of subjects, money is fundamental to the well-being of a couple or family. Financial worries can cause stress and impact sleep, digestion, and even mental health. 

"Money involves numbers, but it's not strictly rational and mathematical: it's still highly emotional. Taking charge of your financial security means taking care of the people you love and protecting their future.” – Nancy Paquet, Executive Vice-President, Wealth Management, National Bank

 It’s important to recognize that financial health is part of overall health, which is why they should be approached in the same way: inform yourself, set your goal, then take the necessary actions to achieve that goal. It all starts with introspection, according to Lucie Blanchet: "Are you satisfied with the importance you place on managing your finances? If the answer is no, what would you like to change about it?” 

 Create moments to discuss finances 

Money and managing finances are still seen as taboo subjects. The hesitation in discussing numbers makes it difficult to have productive conversations about the best approach to take when trying to manage your finances well. Not to mention that this hesitation can become dangerous when people start seeking information from unreliable sources to help make their financial decisions. 

But discussing money and savings with those around you and your children ought to become normalized. "You can have dinner with friends and talk about finances once a month," says Nancy Paquet. “It takes the pressure off because there's no such thing as a bad question when you're with loved ones.” 

Get professional support 

Coaching helps improve confidence, well-being, and financial resilience, especially in a context of uncertainty. Studies confirm that people who work with a financial planner and stick to their plan feel less stressed about money than others, and that this has a positive impact on their household's financial resilience. 3

Your financial institution's advisors have the training, skills, and tools you need to ensure your financial well-being at every stage of your life's journey. 

"Your advisor welcomes you as you are and without judgment, regardless of your age, personal circumstances or track record. What matters is helping you achieve financial autonomy and your major life projects.” – Nancy Paquet, Executive Vice-President, Wealth Management, National Bank 

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