As the nation entered the Covid-19 pandemic, there were dire predictions for women’s financial health: They faced more divorce, job loss, and retirement contribution pauses. More time spent caretaking, and less time spent earning.

Two years later, many of those predictions have come true. But some anecdotal trends are emerging that could end up being net-positive for women. In the future, there will be more clarity about what financial security means, and women will be more interested in shoring up their financial goals to reflect personal goals. Furthermore, women outlive men, which has prompted some demographers to predict that they will end up controlling most of the wealth in the developed world.

Catherine Seeber, the vice president and a CFP at CAPTRUST in Lewes, Del., said reports of the impact of Covid-19 on marriage run the gamut from ‘Covid is straining families’ to ‘No, it’s making them stronger.’ Where the Daily Mail reports that divorce rates in the U.S. are soaring, the New York Post says they’re dropping.

There’s only one thing Seeber’s sure of, she says: “In America, just like with a lot of things, the pandemic seemed to accelerate the rate of divorce. I don’t think I’m seeing more. It’s just that people who were heading there seem to be getting there faster.”

Lili Vasileff, the president of Greenwich, Conn., firm Wealth Protection Management, is also trained in mediation, and she says the statistics on divorce and the divided assets that go with it will be misleading for a while, no matter what the source. Even in 2020, she says, she saw a large bump in her client-divorce caseload.

“What made it different was they weren’t going through the courts, because the courts were closed. But for most individuals who had challenges in their marriages and were contemplating divorces, those plans accelerated. They just had to come up with other ways to get divorced,” Vasileff says. “So they turned to divorce arbitrations, where only at the end of that is a filing made. So I think in 2022, you’ll see those filings escalate a lot.”

Vasileff says January is typically “divorce month,” and this year was no different. In 2020, all was quiet from March to autumn, but the pace of divorces picked up after that and it was a busy time for marriage dissolutions all the way through 2021. “Now it’s busy at a crazy pace,” she continues. “And the increase is most remarkable in late-life divorce, the mid-50s and after.”

Seeber says brokers and registered investment advisors could and should be doing a lot more to connect with older female clients. Even if they aren’t getting divorced, their circumstances will be changing as they will be on the receiving end of the $30 trillion wealth transfer by the end of the decade. That should make it easier than it was before for advisors to connect with those clients, and to connect in a meaningful way that helps them retain those clients’ assets—if they are willing to make the effort.

“If you asked women 10 years ago what they were most fearful about, it was being the bag lady. That’s not what I hear today. Now I’m hearing the fear is about health, family and mortality,” Seeber says. “Women are showing more of an interest in learning about their finances than they did before Covid because they worry about what might happen if someone gets sick, or if they themselves get sick. Women usually have that great short-term focus where they focus on the budget. But that’s slowly changing to where they’re looking more at the dynamics of long-term investing. To connect with that, you have to pick up the phone more frequently. And the question you ask isn’t, ‘How are you doing?’ That’s too vague. It’s ‘How are you doing today?’”

Vasileff agrees that new times require new conversations, especially with women whose lives were turned upside down during the pandemic. They might have lost their jobs or their businesses, had to quit jobs to care for children at home or elderly parents, or lost a spouse because of death or divorce.

“I think women are realizing they have to be more accountable to themselves. That’s been the lesson, and it’s not a happy lesson,” Vasileff says. “These clients are saying when they move forward they need to have a plan in place. But they had a plan in place. They just feel like they’re starting at ground zero because they weren’t all that connected to what they had before.”

First « 1 2 » Next