Women must take financial control: speaker

A financier says women are good at day-to-day finances but only 33 percent participate in the ‘big’ things like investing

Vanessa Stockbrugger knows exactly why women need financial plans.

When she was seven, her parents were in a car accident and her father didn’t survive.

Her siblings were 13, 10 and six, and her mother suddenly had to make all the decisions on her own.

Many people told her she couldn’t stay on the Saskatchewan farm she and her husband had established just a few years earlier, but she did.

“She rented out the land instead of farming it herself, and now that 300 acres is 4,000 acres,” Stockbrugger said.

Her brothers farm it full-time and Stockbrugger is an investor.

“I’m very passionate that women understand finance, that we feel confident, that we have the knowledge and the ability and the feeling that we can take this on,” she said.

Stockbrugger went on to get a business degree, to work on Bay Street in Toronto, and then, after 10 years of investment banking and the birth of two daughters, she established a financial company called Womencents.

“Womencents is all about providing Canadians — it started with women but I’m working with more and more couples — the financial knowledge, the confidence,” she said. “I don’t sell any mutual funds or insurance and it’s a lot less intimidating.”

Stockbrugger, who is based in Calgary, said women want to build their financial knowledge. They are good at day-to-day finances but only 33 percent of women participate in the “big” things like investing.

The gap between women’s and men’s knowledge of financial matters isn’t that big, she said, but women are often intimidated and don’t know who to trust for information.

“Seventy-five percent of women will change their financial adviser in the first year after their husband’s death,” Stockbrugger said. “They don’t have a relationship with that person.”

Generally, women are more risk aware but not necessarily risk averse.

“When we do actually invest as women we’re really good at it because we make these calculated risks and we stick there and we don’t follow the next shiny object,” she told the Farm Credit Canada Women in Ag Summit in Regina.

Stockbrugger said by 2024 women will control half the wealth in Canada and have to figure out how to do that.

She offered four E’s to build financial strength:

Engagement — “We need to make this a priority. No one else cares about your financial situation more than you.”

Education — “We do need to build our knowledge. We don’t have to be experts but we need to find ways to learn the basics.”

Execution — “This is where a lot of people get stuck. What’s your plan?”

Experience — “This is the pinnacle. We have all had different experiences. Me growing up with a woman, my mom handled everything. We communicated about money. That’s going to form the solutions that work for me.”

Stockbrugger said developing a money strategy begins with a clear understanding of someone’s current situation, what the person is doing that results in that situation, and then using tools and systems to take action.

She used a closet illustration to take stock and said it’s important to only gather information at this point. For example, a power suit can represent financial assets, while high heels represent debt.

“High heels can make us look really good from the outside but the higher they get the more uncomfortable they become,” she said.

A fedora represents the serious business of estate and transition planning and an umbrella is insurance. A blazer is a symbol for employee benefits for those who have them.

Once this step of cleaning the financial closet is done and understood, people can go on to explore and name what is impacting financial decisions.

“Be honest with yourself. What are the things that I am doing or not doing,” she said.

This includes thinking about income, spending habits, savings, investment choices, and goals and priorities.

When it’s time to take action Stockbrugger said people should find the right person to help and then take manageable steps.

About the author


Stories from our other publications