March is Women’s History Month!

I’d love to be able to say that the “Old Boys’ Club” mentality of Wall Street is history as well – but unfortunately, I speak from experience when I say it is still alive and well. It’s one of the reasons I founded LexION Capital to be the “anti-Wall Street, Wall Street firm.” We work to empower people financially through transparent, ethical money management – especially women, who are often overlooked and under-served by traditional Wall Street.

For women (and men!), getting the treatment you deserve from your financial advisor is not necessarily about their gender – it comes down to how they treat you as a client. The right advisor will make sure that you are involved in important decisions affecting your financial life, and that you feel comfortable and confident about your finances.

In your search for financial advisor, use the following questions to gauge whether you’ve found someone who is a good fit:

  • Does my advisor take me seriously?

During my decade-long career on the Street I was strongly disappointed to see so many training materials that featured women’s concerns only as shallow and often belittling stereotypes. In fact, more and more women are heads of household or take charge of their family’s finances, and nearly all women will be solely responsible for their own finances at some point in their lives. Watch for red flags like an advisor who says, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you,” or something similarly condescending that reverts to tired stereotypes about women and money. The right advisor will answer your questions and make sure you are clear on important information.

  • Does my advisor make sure I’m involved and empowered in my financial life?

Even if your spouse takes the lead on financial decision making, your advisor should actively communicate with you and make sure that you are included. Just as you wouldn’t let someone else talk to the doctor for you and make major decisions about your health, neither should you tolerate being excluded from conversations and decisions about your financial health. If your advisor brushes off your questions or seems to deal only with your husband, it may be time to find a new advisor.

There are a myriad of factors that affect a person’s financial life. Your investment portfolio should be tailored to fit your unique situation in light of your financial needs and goals. Especially for women, who tend to live longer, it is very important that your advisor is able to help you plan for all stages of your life and adjust as your needs change.

  • Does my advisor explain financial concepts? Do they make sure that I understand how my portfolio is working in line with my goals?

Whenever I meet with clients, I let them know about my policy: stop me at any word or concept you don’t feel entirely comfortable with, and I will explain. Your advisor should be able to clearly communicate with you to ensure you are prepared to make informed decisions about your wealth. You too must take an active role by asking questions and speaking up about your concerns. Some women may worry that they “don’t understand” finance and stay quiet as a result – don’t! No one is born understanding finance; it has a language of its own, and we all have to learn sometime.