While living in St. Petersburg, Fla., Jackie Staines had placed her investments with two different banks. She wasn't happy, though, because she kept losing money.
"I did not have a lot of experience in the financial arena. I have been divorced since 1998, but women often lose their husbands later in life and don't have a husband to assist them with decision making, so we may be at greater risk," Staines said.
Staines, 69, retired in September from her job as an occupational therapist and returned in October to Altoona to help take care of her ill mother. She eventually attended a retirement planning seminar offered locally and found an adviser she was happy with.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Jackie Staines of Altoona gets some financial advice from Michael Wall of Wall Financial Group, 630 Pleasant Valley Blvd., Altoona, on Monday.
"I told him I wanted to have funds available and leave something for my kids. Instead of losing, I wanted to have security that my money was there," Staines said.
Staines is like many women in their 50s or older who may be at financial risk in the future for various reasons.
"A lot of these women are from the generation where the man worked and the wife stayed at home and took care of the family. A lot of the older women have been housewives, and the men took care of the financial situation," Michael D. Wall, president/owner of Wall Financial Group Inc., Altoona, said.
Studies from the Wharton School of Business Boettner Center for Pensions and Retirement Research have shown that a lot of women are less knowledgeable than men when it comes to retirement assets, Wall said.
To change that, many advisers want to meet with both husband and wife when coming up with a plan.
"I tell the husband you have to bring your wife because she is going to outlive you and she needs to know what is going on and be involved," said Andrea Paul-Day, financial associate at Thrivent Financial, Hollidaysburg. "I am a big advocate of education.
Wall said he also requires the husband and wife to come in together.
"I tell them some day I will likely be working with just the wife. I want her to know she is part of the process and want her to be comfortable with me when her husband is not around, when we assist her in making decisions," he said.
Because women often outlive men, advisers say that is another reason women need to be better educated.
"Fifty-one percent of adult women are on their own financially. They may have not married or are widowed or divorced. The pressure is on for them to make good financial choices for their future," said Barbara Kooman, financial adviser at Kooman and Associates. "The name of one of our workshops was 'A Man is Not a Financial Plan.' At some point in your life, you have to rely on yourself rather than rely on a man."
Amy Seltzer, owner of Seltzer Financial Strategies LLC, said anyone working with a financial adviser should be comfortable with that person. If not, she advised getting a second opinion. She added that once women are educated on financial planning, they are not at risk.
"They need someone they can trust and can explain the process to them. Once a woman understands the process, she is 100 percent committed to getting it done and the process gets completed," Seltzer said. "They are at risk if they don't understand the process."
Theresa Riley, a partner in Fusco Riley Reismeier Financial Group LLC, agreed.
"Women need to get more involved in planning, because statistically they outlive men," she said.
Wall recommends women shed as much debt as they can and look for ways to reduce market volatility on their investments needed for retirement income.
"Don't think you know what your retirement plans are. Know what they are and do whatever is necessary to insure that you are comfortable and you can live the kind of retirement you want," he said. "Hoping is not a strategy."
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.