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Money Savvy Women

Wealth By Design

Women control just over one half of all wealth in the United States. By the end of this decade it projected women will control two thirds of this country’s wealth.  This shift will likely reshape the financial industry as women increasingly seek financial advisors who understand their attitudes toward money.  Men and women see money differently. Aspen Public Radio's Roger Adams explains.

“Men will be more about making a rate of return; women are more on the relationship side.”

Danielle Howard has spent 21 years in the financial industry and now owns Wealth By Design, a small financial firm in Basalt.  She is one of a growing number of money advisors who are focusing on women clients and recognizing how women approach the subjects of investment, income and financial security.

“Where I’m really passionate is helping people understand the meaning of money in their lives, you know, how do you look at your aspirations, your dreams.  It isn’t just numbers crunching goals.”

To clarify, Howard says, the mechanics of understanding one’s finances are extremely important.  Just as in any planning for the future choosing the right investment vehicle is critical.  Equally important are setting financial goals, understanding spending and rates of return on investment.  Still what she wants is for women to be able to become secure so they can visualize beyond the balance of their accounts.

“The quantitative side is incredibly important.  We have to crunch the numbers, you have to look at asset allocation, you have to look at the type of tools, you know, tax efficient.  But, you need both.  You need the qualitative and the quantitative because the quantitative isn’t going to  make your boat float in the long run.”

Howard holds workshops that are less about pie charts or graphs and more about personal attitudes and values.  She doesn’t even call them workshops; instead they are financial salons with titles like Wine, Women and Wealth.  Her website has a tab labeled For The Ladies; another is Passionate, Purposeful and fifty-plus.   She describes her service as a boutique.  Her office has the warmth of a cozy coffee-klatch with a big kitchen table.

“I try to get to know a person from their values and what are they trying to accomplish.  Then as a financial advisor, we’ll spread everything out on the table.”

Howard’s concentration women’s needs in the financial world has won over her clients and in turn drawn the attention of Women-Certified, an advocacy group for female consumers.  Along with the Women’s Institute for Financial Education the groups this month awarded Danielle Howard the Women’s Choice Award for Financial Advisors.  Candace Bahr and Ginita Wall co-founded the institute and helped create the award.  They say it is a way to certify a planner for women seeking financial advice.   The award is based on a range of criteria that include a check of the advisor’s financial soundness and credibility.  Also important, say Bahr and Wall, is how well an advisor “speaks woman.” Men and women can look at the same number on a financial account think differently about it. 

Ginita- “You do see the same number but the question becomes; what are you going to do a about it?” Candace-  “And women do look at money differently.  Women ar far more holistic often in their approach, and that’s a general comment, but that’s what we’ve found over the years that women look at money holistically.  What is it going to do for their family?  What kinds of things can they do to reach their goals?  Where, often, men use their money as a kind of scorecard; how successful am I?”

Another motivator for women seeking financial advice is change; transitions like children growing up and moving away, divorce or the death of a spouse.  Candace Bahr.

“Whether its moving from childhood to adult or our children moving on and going to college and we become empty nesters.  Or, we often unfortunately, half of us, end up single after having been married.  And, to find an adviser who recognizes that and is their to help them is really powerful.”

At her office in Basalt, Danielle Howard, recounts the questions she gets asked by women clients.  She agrees that life changes are central to many.

“A big one I will hear in this valley is, ‘I can’t sell my house, its not a good time to sell my house.’  Well, if you look at what you’re trying to accomplish, if you dig down and figure out from a work standpoint or relational or spiritual, you know whatever your values are, it may be an ok time to sell the house.  But, we get stuck in our little boxes and we think that this is the only way to do it.”

The Women’s Choice Award for Financial Advisors is still new.  Only about seventy have so far been given out across the country.  

More about the Women's Choice Award:


More information about Danielle Howard:

Wealth By Design

More about Women's Institute for Financial Education:


From Forbes:

Women, Wealth and Power

(Danielle Howard disclosure: Registered Representative, Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., A Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC.  Investment Advisor Representative, Lighthouse Financial, LLC., A Registered Investment Advisor.  Cambridge and Wealth By Design, LLC. are not affiliated.)