This is a blog written by women, for women.
More than thirty years ago, Susan Fulton and Margaret Broenniman were two mid-career women who recognized they were often overlooked in financial meetings. But when their friends’ parents began to age, their girlfriends’ mothers were often left to manage the family’s finances. Susan and Margaret thought they could help these families, and they left their jobs to begin what is, today, known as FBB Capital Partners.
After working for various brokerage firms, they became disenfranchised by the inherent conflicts of interest in the industry. Already trailblazers in a male-dominated industry, the team decided to adopt a different model centered around transparency, fairness, honesty, and mastery of their craft, while eliminating commissions and product sales. Susan was quick to identify the merits behind the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ curriculum, and the team found a real niche serving widows and women in transition.
The majority of FBB’s clients in those early days were widows, many of them women who didn’t balance their own checkbooks. That explains why so many women came to Susan in fear. They didn’t know where to begin to pick up the pieces.
A lot has changed in 30 years. When I look at my peers within my network, it’s evident that many of the biases and generalizations traditionally used to differentiate men from women when it comes to personal finance have changed.
Many of my girlfriends are the primary breadwinners. They are confident, financially independent women. Today, women are not only balancing their own checkbooks; they have earned roles as executives, board members, business owners, and even elected officials in The White House.
Still, in client meetings, we have observed that women predominantly defer to their partners to make financial decisions.
In 2019, women earned 56% of all bachelor degrees and 53% of all advanced degrees. In addition, today women hold the majority of personal wealth in the United States, yet are still under-represented in board rooms, the C Suite, in the financial services industry in general, and in wealth management in particular.
So why, despite being more educated, more confident, and more successful than our mothers and sisters before us, are women typically under-represented in matters related to personal finance and investing?
Despite our changing roles in the workplace, many women now work while also retaining their roles as primary caregivers – whether for children, parents, or relatives. This last point was highlighted for many of us during the pandemic, as many women were stretched between the roles of caregivers and professionals.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women are paid less than their male counterparts—around 82 cents to the dollar. You may have heard this referred to as the “pay gap.” And thanks to the concept of compounding, women find themselves with an even greater “wealth gap”—meaning the amount of money they can save and grow over time. On average, a single woman has accumulated 32 cents in wealth for every one dollar accumulated by their male counterparts. That gap is even more astounding for women of color.
The pandemic set back much of the progress that women have celebrated in recent decades to close the gap in pay and workforce participation. The Department of Labor estimates that COVID will set back women’s participation in the workforce by three decades.
So why is this blog for women—and why now?
Looking back at what Susan and Margaret achieved in the 1980s is astounding: Two women paved their own way in an industry that wasn’t known to favor women. Decades ahead of their time, they also adopted a “fee-only” business model for wealth management and investment advisory services, which is quickly becoming the standard in our business.
Today FBB Capital Partners has grown to serve several hundred individuals and families with assets under management over $1.5 billion. In the 30-some years since Susan and Margaret started FBB Capital Partners, there have been many women who have followed in their footsteps. Still, there continue to be financial planning challenges and considerations that are unique to women.
First, women are likely to outlive their male counterparts. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates women to live, on average, about five years longer than men.
Second, although divorce rates are on the decline, so are marriage rates. The odds are that women will, by design or chance, be responsible for making their own financial decisions – through a divorce (or marriage), loss of a loved one, or otherwise.
Third, women do not have the same generational knowledge when it comes to personal finance. As a result, many women lack the confidence and knowledge necessary to take on financial decisions, and yes, that is changing, but it will take generations to turn the tide. Lack of information and confidence often leads to fear – in particular, among those recently divorced, widowed, or otherwise facing difficult financial decisions, but especially among women.
Finally, because of the wealth gap and all of the factors above, we need to be more proactive. We need to start saving sooner, save, more and make our money work for us longer.
Empowering women to invest with confidence.
On this page, we hope to continue Susan and Margaret’s legacy of educating and empowering women to take control of their personal finances. We remain committed to Susan’s core values and to remain “obsessed” with eliminating conflicts of interest to the extent humanly possible. In addition, we hope to establish an open, non-threatening place where readers feel comfortable asking questions and engaging in their own unique financial journey.
Although this is a blog created for women, we hope that anyone with a thirst for learning more about personal finance and investing will follow us here. With internet usage continuing to grow, information has never been more accessible than it is today. We hope to add to the collection of online resources that help break down concepts of financial planning for anyone to understand. As with most things, personal finance and investing become infinitely more approachable with knowledge – even for those who consider themselves to be novices.
We welcome your thoughts, questions, and story ideas. Please send them to: email@example.com. We cannot guarantee we will directly respond to each email but will do our best to incorporate your feedback into future blog posts.
Thanks for reading, and happy investing!
About the Author
Jane DeLashmutt O’Mara, CFP®, is a Senior Portfolio Manager at FBB Capital Partners. She works with high-net-worth clients, incorporating education and compassion in the financial planning process. She enjoys working with endowments, trusts and families with unique or complex estate planning needs. Jane is a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner and a member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.
About FBB Capital Partners
FBB Capital Partners is one of the first fee-only wealth management firms in Maryland. Since its founding more than 30 years ago, the firm has grown to be one of the largest independent, fee-only firms in the greater Washington, D.C. region. The firm specializes in providing tailored, independent investment management and wealth advisory services to affluent families, individuals and business owners, as well as foundations and endowments. The firm has locations in Bethesda, MD, McLean, VA, Easton, MD, and Annapolis, MD.