Leading Women in Finance

March 04, 2024 00:25:20
Leading Women in Finance
Side of the Desk
Leading Women in Finance

Mar 04 2024 | 00:25:20

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Show Notes

To honor Women’s History Month, we sit down with a few of our amazing female leaders at Fidelity that help lead women in finance. #FidelityAssociate

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Episode Transcript

Farrah Welcome to Side of the Desk podcast hosted by Fidelity Jobs in the Fidelity's Women's Leadership Group. We're here today to have deep discussions on the authentic experience of being a working professional in today's ever changing workforce. Welcome to this episode of Side of the Desk podcast. I'm your host, Farr. QURESHI And today I'm joined by Lorna Carpenter and Sangeeta Rajani. Farrah Today we're here to talk to you about the financial realities of being a woman. Learn And Sangeeta, thank you so much for joining us. Do you mind just telling our guests a little bit about yourselves and your journey at Fidelity? Lorna Farah Thank you so much for having us here today. I've actually been so excited to join this discussion, so really appreciate it. I'm Lorna Capacita. I have the honor of leading a team here at Fidelity, where we're focused on helping women make their money work as hard as they do. I love this role and feel really grateful to have it because I get to talk to so many women investors and work with them to really help make sure that we're meeting their needs in every way that we can. Sangeeta Hello, Flora. I'm really excited to be here. And I'm Sangita Majani and I have the privilege of serving not for profit organizations here at Fidelity. These are colleges, universities, fees, health care systems, hospital systems, other public sector organizations. And at Fidelity, we create retirement solutions and benefit offerings for these organizations so they can continue to thrive. And it's an honor for me to be leading this important business for fidelity. Sangeeta And interestingly, most of the customers that we serve are women. And so I'm deeply passionate about women and their finances. So this is perfect. Farrah It's so exciting to have two inspiring leaders who are so passionate about women. Lorna, you've had quite an interesting money journey over the last few years and you've learned a ton. Do you mind sharing a little bit about your money journey and how you got to where you are today? Lorna Truthfully, as we talked about Farah, it wasn't till I started working at Fidelity, which is about ten years ago, where I really started to dive into my finances and take control. And I like so many women that I speak to prior to that, had a growing career, a growing family. I have three children and what sometimes is called a zoo of pets. Lorna And my husband and I took a divide and conquer approach. He was in charge of the financial planning and investing, and I think I did everything else. And I came to Fidelity and I joined a women's workshop. And this is before I was leading this work. And that women's workshop created an moment for me where I knew that I had an opportunity to do more. Lorna I knew that I was financially stressed and I needed to get more involved. And from that time, my husband and I, we did. We started financial planning together with a professional. We started making joint decisions. And I will tell you that my financial stress went down, my overall confidence went up. And I really just hope that I can create that moment for every woman who is feeling in that same where that same position. Farrah That's incredible. There's so much that goes into money with the mindfulness around it and just being able to have that confidence is so incredible and it's great that you are able to do that through fidelity and are now able to do that in your career. Sangeeta I'd also love to hear a little bit about your journey as well. Farrah I'd love to understand when your journey started and how it's impacted your thinking today, especially with all the work that you do within the nonprofit organization, within the tax exempt organization. Sangeeta Yeah. Fara I feel like I've been on this journey my whole life. I remember at a very young age, my parents used to have this little diary in which they wrote all their expenses and I would be alongside sitting there, didn't really think I was learning finances, but I think the whole aspect of budgeting and knowing what you spend on and when you make those spending decisions came to me very early. Sangeeta I went off to school and I had every plan to study law, a casual collision with a linguistic professor change my mind, and next thing I knew is I was pursuing business and management, which led me into an internship at a financial services firm. And now I've been in finance, a privilege to be working at Fidelity for many years. Sangeeta So I feel like I've been along the journey. You know, finance has been part of what I've been doing. Anyway. Along came many life events. I became a wife, a mother, and became responsible for caregiving to others. And, you know, and right now I would say I'm part of a sandwich generation where in addition to my two adult kids, my husband, my mom lives with us since my dad passed away. Sangeeta And of course, my dog, who's the favorite person in the family. But finance and life decision is I feel, are so intertwined and we often tend to think of finance a time of crisis. And I love this ability to flip that discussion and making finance a part of life. And that's really what I'm most passionate about. Throughout life. Sangeeta I've continued to learn about finance, and I would say on this journey, I've developed a passion for helping people to understand financial realities facing them, men and women, and meeting people where they are on their journey. And really that's how I feel like I can serve others. Farrah That's incredible. And two themes that I'm hearing between the two of you ladies is there are some big life changes that you've gone through on your journey, whether it's partnership, having children, having lots of pets going through and opening up accounts with your partner, opening up accounts for your children, and these big life events definitely impacting how you think about money. Farrah One of the amazing things that Fidelity has done is they have launched a program called Women Talk Money. Do you mind telling us a little bit about what that is? And how that started? Lorna Love two And it's funny, Sangeeta just talked about serving others and helping them through all these life moments and events. Well, women talk money started during the pandemic and it was really about listening to so many people, men and women, who had so many questions and concerns, if you remember, at the beginning of the pandemic, job security. Am I going to have enough saved? Lorna How do I think about my future and really reprioritizing what's important? We were getting thousands and thousands of questions, and so we launched the Women Talk Money community. At that time it was really around jumping on to have a judgment free space in live discussions where we could really help address one another's questions, share with one another what was going on in our lives and how we were feeling. Lorna And since then, we've just grown at such a tremendous rate. We have hundreds of thousands of women that come together regularly for live discussions on our social platforms, as well as help. Straight to your inbox. And there has been such a value in bringing women together to talk about money when historically it's been such a taboo topic. But we talk about money, we talk about career, we talk about helping one another and helping one another do our most with everything that we have. Lorna And so it's been great and we're just going to keep on going and doing more. Farrah That's incredible. And has there been any poignant stories that you've heard that you'd be willing to share or anything that's been like really touching to you or keeps you up at night? Lorna So I would say there's so many amazing stories, I think, for me. What has been most rewarding? I get to talk to so many of the community members, either directly on LinkedIn or we've reached out and discussed on the phone. We've helped people through so many big life events, and one that we haven't mentioned is simply many women who have joined and one in particular who. Lorna Her husband had passed away suddenly and she had not been really in the driver's seat with her money. And she really reached out for help and what she was going through. And I think what was most exciting is the ability to help connect her with one of our financial professionals who actually joins women, talk money and really allow this woman to have confidence in her money and her plan while she was dealing with, you know, this major emotional moment and her family. Lorna And there are so many stories like that that it has been, to me really, really rewarding to be a part of it, but to help as many people as we can. Farrah Wow. That's, I'm sure, so rewarding to feel like people are able to get into that driver's seat and really take charge of their finances. Are there things that when we think about women and how they approach money, are there things that women should be doing differently when it comes to money? Sangeeta Absolutely. I mean, there are a few unique life and financial realities that face women that make us different. Of course, there's a persistent pay gap, right, that's been talked about. But in addition to that, what I want to call out is a few things. One is the reality of caregiving. Women are more likely to be caregivers than not. Sangeeta And we saw this during the pandemic. Right. Whether it's providing help for elder care or for children, there's a lot that they end up doing that impacts their career trajectory, impacts their mental wellness, impacts their finances and their savings potential. So that's definitely it. The other thing I would say is that, you know, women are more likely to need more health care, and health care is expensive. Sangeeta So on average, women end up having to pay 20% more for health care throughout their life than men. And so just think about that. Just during retirement, women need about 165,000. That's what Fidelity estimates to provide for their health care costs. So just think about that and having to be ready financially for that. And lastly, the gift of a longer life. Sangeeta So women tend to live longer than men, in fact, six years longer. And that gift of more years to live and enjoy also comes with more dollars to take care of yourselves. So these are just some of the basic things that we need to be thinking about. The good news is that when women know and they can plan for these differences, they're going to feel a lot more confident about their finances. Sangeeta Lorna talked about women talk money and, you know, at those forums, one of the things that's most heartwarming for me is when they hear from other women and they don't feel alone, they know that this is something that someone else is feeling and that they can get help for. And I think that's the power of having that knowledge. Farrah Wow. And I'm sure I'm sure that camaraderie is so important in making those financial decisions to feel like you're not necessarily planning for something that's super unique. I had no idea about that health care statistic. That's really interesting is that can you expand on that statistic a little more? Like what causes women to need more health care throughout their lifetime? Sangeeta Yeah, absolutely. I mean, think about it. There are several things. One is childbirth, right? The other is women tend to need more testing. So as you're aging, as you're getting older, you need to have mammograms. I mean, you're not just needing a primary care visit, you're needing mammograms. Lorna, you and I have talked about other visits, right, where we need more health care help. Lorna There are there are other doctors that women need to see, like the OB-GYN and or a gynecologists on a regular basis. And the other thing that we can mention that is the pink tax. There is the reality of there's a tax on goods for women that actually is not necessarily something that all men are buying. So there's just a set of expenses that really kind of add up to that 18 to 20% more. Farrah Wow. And that's something that I don't think many people think about when it comes to financial planning. Thank you so much for sharing that. When we think about next steps for women, talk money. Lorna, can you share a little bit about what might be coming? Lorna I want to talk about women talk money and particularly Women's History Month, because I'm very excited. But I do want to hit on what Sangeeta talked about because as you said, so many women don't know about these differences. It often is in the back of our heads. It's a stress and being prepared. And I think what's so important is not just women Talk Money and Women's History Month, but the effort that Fidelity continues to make with women as the focus and ensuring that we're building an experience that meets their needs wherever they are and to additional examples of that, we have digital experience. Lorna It's Fidelity, e-com, Women. It's all about educating on these differences that Sangita mentioned, as well as providing people with actionable next steps and a guided path to take action and plan for them. The other thing that is amazing is that we have over 20,000 financial professionals who work 1 to 1 with people every day to help them develop a financial plan or take money action. Lorna All of those financial professionals are trained on these unique factors and how to help people, women and their families and those important to them plan for them so that they've got it covered. But I do love talking about women talk money and Women's History Month because it's such a great time to celebrate and recognize the accomplishments of so many women, but also to help one another come together and enable them to do more. Lorna In addition, during Women's History Month, leaders from Fidelity such as Sangeeta will be joining us. But I'm also excited for our special guests, including Padma Lakshmi, Viola Davis and DeLeon, and the money coach. We are looking at a full month lineup of workshops, live events and panels, so please join us. It is available to everybody. You do not need to be a Fidelity customer to join and it's free. Farrah That's incredible. That sounds super exciting. I'll be tuning in and I hope our guests will also be tuning in as well. It sounds like it's an event that people don't want to be missing. One of the things and one of the things that I'd like to highlight is there's such a big focus at Fidelity on Women and money. Farrah Why do we need to think about it and why do we need to plan differently? Sangeeta I would say money plays such an important role in enabling us to live the life we choose. And I would say too often the conversations about money tend to be scary or at the moment of crisis. And I would love for the script to be flipped where money is part of a skill that we have, just like we learn to walk and learn how to hold a job and learn different skills. Sangeeta We learn how to manage money. I have two adult kids who have gone through college recently and it is so often that we have the conversation where my daughter will say, Why wasn't this taught to me? Why wasn't I told that I should save? Why wasn't I told that I could have a Roth IRA? And so I just think we need to demystify it so that it becomes a way for us to manage our life and create joy. Lorna I'd love to add in that. I think that we need to do that for everybody. And I think for women in particular, we've seen that there is a gap in financial planning and investing, and the opportunity, although things are changing, is to make sure that all women know they've got the available resources. But when women do jump in, they work on developing. Lorna Some people call a financial planner money roadmap and they do invest. They actually do really well. So we just want to help more women do that so they can make their money, as I always love to say, work harder than they do. Farrah Women have historically been underrepresented within the financial services community, along with others. How can we show up as good mentors or allies for people who have been historically underrepresented either within the workforce or within the financial services sphere? Sangeeta You know, allyship is so important when it comes to helping women thrive, and it starts with demystifying. Let's just talk about the topic of finance, right? Demystifying because finance always can often feel like that means I have to learn to manage my own money while I'm in financial services and I don't manage money, I get help. But it's so important for us to start really early and be allies and help simplify. Sangeeta One of the things that I'm so proud of that we're doing at Fidelity is we're helping college students. We're helping people really early understand the power of money to learn good financial habits and really look at that as a way of enabling their life. Lorna So what I'd add to that is I never pictured myself in the financial industry, and I would say coming to Fidelity, I think what has been most important is and it's not just the amazing support I have from mentors like Sangeeta, but it's also the allyship that exists across. And it's men, it's women, it's supporting one another to come together because we know and across ethnicities having different points of view, asking one another, their opinion is what is going to help us enable and create the best experiences, products and solutions. Lorna And so I think this combination sanjeet of what you talked about in helping the young generation, what we see everyday at Fidelity and helping one another to do our best, to bring our best selves to our clients and the best experience I think is the right recipe that we're pulling together. Sangeeta And I think that's why it's so important to be an ally and to lean into that, but also know the power of mentorship and advocacy and advocacy, something you build over time, right? But how do you make sure you have those folks that understand enough of what you're trying to do with your finances, with your career, and how can they advocate for you in rooms that you're not present? Sangeeta Right. And how can you be an advocate for others in rooms that they are not present? It's always a two way street. And that power of allyship, that power of advocacy, that power of lifting each other up is really what's so important. And that's why, you know, you see people like myself and and Lorena really embracing fidelity for what we've learned here. Farrah I think that's so poignant. And I think about how conversations on leaning in have shifted so much in the last ten, 15 years. We're now building advocates and we're building allies and mentors. Lorna I think you had mentioned bringing in men into the conversation, right? How can we bring people who might be different than us that if we're, as Sangeeta mentioned, not in the same room, we're still able to advocate for them? Farrah What are ways that we can show up as allies and advocates and learn from peers or people that we may not have as much contact with? Lorna It's funny, but how you ask the question is exactly the way I've really thought about it. It's operating with intentionality. And it's not just in a 1 to 1, but it's in large meetings as well. And I think the importance of developing deeper relationships with people who you may think are different from you. In fact, you oftentimes learn there are so many commonalities versus differences, but you also get to learn and understand those differences so you can come together and form a relationship. Lorna To me, that's allyship that also works with mentors, though, So I am lucky to have women mentors. I have men mentors, I have mentors of different race and ethnicities, and I think that becomes really important in getting more well-rounded and how you support people, but how they support you. Sangeeta And another important thing to remember on allyship is being an ally for yourself. It is so important to really be thoughtful about what are those questions that are the burning questions in your mind and you're not comfortable asking and how do you get comfortable asking? I think some of the questions we feel uncomfortable about is am I being paid enough? Sangeeta Can I have the next job? What will it take? And so really think about those things and then bring them up. Bring them up. What is the worst thing that you will get as an answer? No, not now or not at all. You're better off knowing. I think often we worry about we're not sure if the other person will have an answer. Sangeeta Well, we won't know till we ask the question. So be an ally for yourself and frame those questions with your advocates, with people who you can lean on and ask the question. Farrah I love how you frame the concept of self allyship. I think a lot of people show up for other people, but may not necessarily be showing up for themselves. And as we think about that concept of self allyship and as we think about as you both have grown so much as in your careers as leaders, what advice would you give your younger self, either professionally or money wise or both? Sangeeta I would say start with getting the facts right. Right? We all have visions. We have ambitions, which is all great, but get the facts right. So let's say you're thinking about are you paid right for your job, get the facts right, do some research and know what professions like yours are paid. I mean, there's so many more resources. Sangeeta Once you get the facts right, think about how you want to frame the conversation, right? You want this conversation to be one that when you're talking to someone, tells them what your desire is, but also make it disarming. Right? Say, hey, this is something that's been on my head and I've done some research and I feel that I am not being appropriately compensated. Sangeeta So I would say do the framing and then ask for feedback to say, if not now, what should I be doing to get to that level, whether it's a job, whether it's something else. So I would say start with the facts, frame things right, and look for feedback on how to do better. Lorna And I think I would add to that. We often have spent a lot of time talking about advocating for compensation money. I think one of the things I've always recommended is just really know what's important to you. And nowadays, particularly post pandemic and in the recent years, it's thinking about other things that maybe work flexibility that may be more time off, that may be caregiving support. Lorna And so really just know what's important to you, what's going to help you out to do great in your career, but also enjoy your life and prioritize that. And money can be one of those things. Sangeeta And Lorna, that is so important and I'm so glad you brought that up because it it really saddens me to see how many women left the workforce because they needed to be home because their kids were schooling from home or they needed to be a caregiver. And I always say, Did you have a conversation with your manager or with your human resources to say, what are the options? Sangeeta What are the benefits that are available? Because every time you stop working or pause, if you want to continue, you're giving up a lot, right? You're not earning money during that time, but you're giving away the opportunity for career progression. And sometimes it might actually be easier or more financially feasible for you to hire help to care give worse is having to leave your job. Sangeeta So it's so important to know what you really want. Farrah I love how you both have framed it. It's really about the value, whether it's financial value, whether it's that time value, whether it's that values value. Like think about what's important to you and advocate for it. I really love how you frame that and asking your leaders for what they might be able to do for you and thinking about how you can really make that decision for you. Farrah That makes sense without needing to completely uproot or stop your career, which can impact you in the future. Sangeeta I think as human beings, we all have to remember at the end of the day, we want to help each other. And I think if we start with that belief system, let's ask for help before we make big decisions and that allyship will come naturally. And the best part of experiencing allyship is that you learn to pay it forward and you're creating more allies in the world. Farrah I love that and I love the two themes that I'm hearing demystify, singing and creating joy in something that I think a lot of people don't necessarily find joy. I think ten years ago, if someone said that they found joy in organizing and managing their money, people might think that's a little peculiar. But it's so exciting to hear that there is joy and excitement and a lot of mindfulness and clarity that's coming about this. Farrah So this was really exciting. What a wonderful initiative to talk through. Thank you both so much for joining and thank you so much to our producers and our listeners for tuning into the Side of the Desk podcast. Please remember to like, subscribe and write us. Thank you for listening to this side of the desk episode and thank you to our recording studio and editors who made our episode possible. Farrah For more information about working at Fidelity, check out Fidelity Careers dot com.

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