Financial Feminism: Solution for Women?

Published on 7th August 2009

Woman trader  Photo courtesy
Financial planning should be "the woman's" domain. Ian Deyzel, CEO of Treoc.com, proposes a radical turnabout in the notion that financial planning is "the man's" domain or even that men and women should jointly take responsibility for this crucial aspect. "In fact, I want to propose that at all times, all women, whatever their relationship status, should be solely responsible for and in charge of their own financial planning, regardless of whether or not their husbands or partners are providing for them in their financial planning," she says. 

According to Deyzel, the idea that financial planning is "the man's" domain is unfortunately a reality which persists even in these modern times of women's rights and equality, even though it is an outdated and financially risky concept given the current realities, reflected by the sobering statistics listed below.   

* Women often single-handedly attend to the household needs, even while contributing to the family's income, and more than 25% of South African households are headed by women.  

* The responsibility of caring for children and elderly family members often fall on women and only half of mothers under the age of 50 are married or living with a partner.  

 * Despite these family responsibilities, women still make up 43% of the workforce, many of them excelling in their chosen field, from science and finance to sport and business.  

 * Half of all marriages end up in divorce, often leaving the ex-wife struggling to support her children, while fighting for maintenance and coming off second best in the divorce settlement, which frequently includes selling the family home and other assets for little or no profit. 

* Even if the marriage lasts, 80% of the time the husband will die before the wife, often leaving her destitute while the bank accounts are frozen, the life insurance proves insufficient and the assets, including the family home, are sold to cover the estate's liabilities, estate duties and executor's fees.  

* If the couple reaches retirement age together, 95% will not be able to retire financially independent, even if they have retirement plans in place. And since women statistically live nine years longer than men, they suffer the consequences of poor financial planning, alone and for much longer.  

* Property investment has proven to be one of the most effective retirement planning strategies, yet, according to a survey by Redcon Property Development, less than 25% of those currently showing interest in buying property off-plan are women. Between January 2006 and end July 2009, Treoc.com applied for bonds for a total of 3 476 people. Sadly, just 490 or 14% are women. 

"Considering these statistics and all too familiar scenarios, I propose that financial planning becomes the 'woman's domain', quite regardless of equal rights. If women are suffering the brunt of poor financial planning, they should at least have a say in this planning in the first place. I have a hunch that significantly fewer women will be left financially destitute if it became generally accepted that financial planning is the 'woman's domain'," comments Deyzel. "To achieve this financial feminism, it is absolutely crucial that every woman, whether single, happily married, divorced or widowed, takes immediate control of her own financial future."    

Treoc.com suggests that you speak to a certified financial advisor or attorney without delay, who can help you, and your partner if you are married, plan for all the eventualities and assist you to set up the structures to ensure maximum protection. Here are some of the scenarios that must be addressed:       

* If you are single, how do you best save, protect your assets, protect your income against retrenchment, disability, etc, and secure your own retirement funding?

* What happens to your assets, your children and those you are supporting if you die, particularly if you were married and your husband remarries?  

* What happens if your marriage ends in divorce?  

* What happens if your partner dies?  

* What happens if both you and your partner die simultaneously?  

* What happens to your assets if your partner becomes disabled, loses a job, is sequestrated or his business fails?   

"A trust is often used to protect assets in all the scenarios mentioned above," notes Deyzel. "If a trust has been set up properly, you will never have to worry about any of your loved ones, including yourself, being left destitute by divorce, death, retrenchment or a business failing, whether yours or your partner's.   

"In terms of retirement planning, it is never too late to start. It may be too late or financially impossible to make big enough contributions to a traditional pension or provident fund to secure a comfortable retirement. However, there is a more effective alternative:  property investment, which if structured correctly, is a far more effective way to provide for retirement. No matter how late you start or how little you have to invest, with property investment, you can secure a reliable, monthly income for your retirement that will keep pace with inflation and continue to provide for you, your children and those your support, all through your life and long after your passing. If you are a woman, take action today - don't be another statistic!" 

Courtesy: TREOC Group


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