investing

Getting In the Investing Game

Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz has some simple investing advice for women: Find a buddy and attend a few seminars to learn the language.

Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, the daughter of Charles Schwab, is board chair and president of the Charles Schwab Foundation, whose mission is to help people become financially fit through education; senior vice president of Charles Schwab & Co.; and board chair of Schwab Charitable, a donor-advised fund. She has an MBA and is a certified financial planner. During a visit to the Kiplinger offices, she and I had a wide-ranging conversation about women’s attitudes toward money, what she learned from her father about finances, and how she brought up her own three children.

What has your experience taught you about how women approach financial issues? Women are more likely than men to lack confidence in financial matters and to be less engaged in making financial decisions. This has changed some over the years with the rise of 401(k) plans and women in the workforce, and that’s a positive trend. But I’m not sure we’re as engaged as we should be versus our male counterparts. In Schwab’s Modern Wealth Index [which tracks how well Americans are planning and managing their wealth], 67% of women said wealth meant having good physical health rather than having a lot of money. But money is critical to our physical security.

How do you address this situation? It’s important to focus on financial programs for women to help them gain more confidence. We host women-focused educational events, generally small workshops designed to feel informal so that people feel comfortable speaking up and asking questions.

You say this kind of education should start at an early age. One of our surveys showed that when families have conversations about money with their children, they talk differently to their sons and daughters. To their daughters, they emphasize saving and budgeting. With their sons, they are more likely to discuss investing and estate planning. My female colleagues in the financial industry all had family members who talked to them about investing, so it’s important to treat daughters and sons the same.

What was the best advice your father gave you about money? He is a man of few words and taught more by example. He encouraged me to have a strong work ethic—at 16, I was working as a file clerk for his company—and to have a higher purpose and impact. Helping people manage their money gives them confidence, security and social mobility. He also taught me to save, which I’ve been doing since I was 9 years old.

How about investment advice? When I was 23 and opening my own retirement account, I called my dad and asked him where I should invest. He told me just to pick two funds and I’d be fine. The important thing was to participate in the markets.

How did you teach your own children about money? When they were younger, they got allowances and had to make their own money decisions. They were all required to have summer jobs in high school. And when they opened their first Roth IRAs, they had to fill out their own paperwork to invest. I wanted them to feel comfortable going into a bank or a Schwab office. That’s particularly important for women because a financial institution can seem like a cold place.

What advice would you give women? Find a buddy and attend a few seminars to learn the language of finance. Or use a financial adviser as a sounding board. If you start investing in your twenties and save 10% for the rest of your life, you’ll be okay. If you’ re married, know where your money is and be involved with major financial decisions. It’s fine to delegate, but don’t abdicate.

Most Popular

Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
The Berkshire Hathaway Portfolio: All 41 Warren Buffett Stocks Ranked
stocks

The Berkshire Hathaway Portfolio: All 41 Warren Buffett Stocks Ranked

The Berkshire Hathaway portfolio is a diverse set of blue chips, and increasingly, lesser-known growth bets. Here's a look at every stock picked by Wa…
November 16, 2021
Resist the Impulse to Buy These 14 Holiday Gifts
shopping

Resist the Impulse to Buy These 14 Holiday Gifts

Don't let those holiday sale promotions persuade you into buying something now that will be much cheaper later.
November 18, 2021

Recommended

How Leveraging Alternative Assets and Modern Portfolio Theory Can Help Investors Improve Returns
investing

How Leveraging Alternative Assets and Modern Portfolio Theory Can Help Investors Improve Returns

To help manage risks and possibly boost returns, everyday investors should think about including alt investments in their portfolios. Here’s how to ap…
December 4, 2021
Investing for Income with Jeffrey Kosnett
investing

Investing for Income with Jeffrey Kosnett

Cold, hard cash working from home! No, this isn’t a scam — it’s an investing strategy built on bonds, REITs, preferred stocks and more.
November 30, 2021
Where to Find Yield in 2022
Kiplinger's Investing Outlook

Where to Find Yield in 2022

I am sold on leveraged closed-end debt funds, junk bonds and floating-rate bank loan funds.
November 29, 2021
When Actively Managed Funds Are Worth It
Becoming an Investor

When Actively Managed Funds Are Worth It

For some investment categories, choosing an actively managed fund makes sense.
November 24, 2021