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February 17, 2011
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Allen Ostrofe: Why women should be the superior investors

Jean Quan, Oakland's 46th mayor, is part of a groundswell of women who are successful because of pragmatic approaches.

"The same old way of doing things just won't cut it. We've got to dig our way out of this morass," says Quan.

The World Economic Forum's gathering in Davos, Switzerland, "showed a piqued interest in integrating women's economic points of view," says Marie Wilson, author of "Closing the Leadership Gap: Why Women Can and Must Help Run the World." Retirement guru Ken Dychtwald predicted two years ago, "By 2010, 60 percent of the wealth in America will be controlled by women."

According to Oppenheimer, a financial firm, women earn $1 trillion a year, yet they often lack the knowledge and confidence to invest their money. A recent Harris Poll shows that only 53 percent of women have the confidence to invest, as compared to 82 percent of men who are confident investors. But, confidence alone does not a good investor make.

Check out five behavioral characteristics which, potentially, make women more successful investors:

• Women are more risk averse, and better prepared to deal with adversity. Men take risks because they think they can control things (Meir Statman, 12/13/10).

• Women think of investing not as a game, but as a route to sustaining basic financial goals, such as funding a child's college education. Men think in terms of winners and losers (Meir Statman, 12/13/10).

• Women are less emotional about the investment process than their male counterparts (Diahunn W. Lassus, 12/13/10).

• Women, who will outlive men by an average of eight years, tend to have a longer-term perspective, and are less focused on short-term performance than men.

• Women are more likely to engage financial literacy, join investment clubs and embrace ongoing information. Last year, more women than men earned a bachelor's degree or higher.

We suggest three steps for women to become successful investors:

1. Start young. It's never too early to start with the "ABCs" of investing. Learn simple strategies, such as investment dollar cost averaging, the value of interest compounding, creating a budget and monitoring a business plan.

2. Commit to a financial slot in time. At least once a month, become an active part of your investment process. Learn where your money is invested, which accounts you know about and, if married, which you don't. Not being involved in the process, and not being involved in the decisions, is called "financial infidelity."

3. Prepare and monitor retirement calculations for the close-to-20 years of living expenses starting at retirement. Women represent approximately 60 percent of all Social Security beneficiaries, and approximately 72 percent of beneficiaries, age 85 and older.

Whether you're a "career woman," "stay-at-home mom," "financial decision-maker," "divorced" or "independent provider," embrace financial literacy. Women who are "present" in facing their financial challenges, and surround themselves with strong financial tools and advisers, can use their behavioral advantages to protect their financial legacy.

Note: Certain statements contained within are forward-looking statements including, but not limited to, statements that are predications of or indicate future events, trends, plans or objectives. Undue reliance should not be placed on such statements because, by their nature, they are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties.

Allen Ostrofe is a certified financial planner and president of Ostrofe Financial Consultants Inc. in Grass Valley. He can be reached at (530) 273-4425, or allen.ostrofe@natplan.com.


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The Union Updated Feb 17, 2011 12:39AM Published Feb 17, 2011 12:39AM Copyright 2011 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.