Records, Reviews & Preparedness

30 Sep,2021

 

This is the seventh in our 10-part fortnightly series where Shaziya Khan focuses on the allyship of brands for financial savviness of women and girls. Link to the first three parts: https://www.mxmindia.com/category/columns/shaziya-khan/

 

By Shaziya Khan

 

Shaziya KhanA progressive shift in attitude, among both men and women, is that women and girls should be more financially savvy. This relates to aspects such as improved financial planning, leading a better life and having a more secure standard of living, understanding financial matters for oneself, gaining knowledge for retirement planning, having joint responsibility of the household and girls being educated early on in financial matters.

 

Enabling this shift in attitude to convert into behaviour, is an area of allyship for brands. Providing relevant, empathetic and timely allyship matters to brands in the financial categories as well other categories – wherever women and girls are key members of the target audience. Financial savviness impacts financial categories, but nearly all purchase categories.

 

UNDERLYING INCLINATIONS YET STRUGGLES: While financial savviness is an attractive goal but it poses several challenges. We know a majority of women (61%) want to become more independent. Young, unmarried and women who are not working, are most apt to say they want to become more independent. 75% of women encourage their daughters to have a career and be independent. Yet, it is also learnt that third of all women agree that it is a struggle to find a balance between managing my traditions and my desire to be independent and assertive.

 

When asked what is their top goal to achieve in five years, 55% of women say it is financial independence! (WT Sonar Study, ‘what women want’). Clearly the notion of women’s financial independence is an idea whose time has come. Yet, it is equally true that financial independence, and more broadly, financial savviness are, both, easier said than done. Guided by the truth that the spoken word scratches the surface of what is experienced, we empathetically sought out and understood practical milestones on the road to financial savviness.

 

RECORDS CAN HELP SIMPLY YET BRILLIANTLY: On a challenging landscape of evolution, a simple yet vital step is record-keeping. Records of one’s personal finances is an unfussy yet spectacular step to build the financial savviness muscle. Records help women punch above their weight, slowly but surely.

 

Comfort zone: Women have experience in home budgeting, monthly grocery shopping, small savings. These activities are likely to involve a personal “system” for keeping track of the monies (Envelopes, diaries, lists, excel sheets, monthly statements etc.). Thus, expanding this “system” to include broader matters of personal finances is not unfamiliar territory. Well-honed budgeting skills help women make a transition to personal financial record keeping.  This can enable women and girls keep a close eye on banking, insurance, investing aspects. Several home-makers, working women vouch for consistent, meticulous record-keeping being a key step of evolution in their own journey to financial savviness.

 

Comprehensive reviews: Record-keeping alone is not sufficient (though it is a vital first step). The next and vital step is financial review – step back, take stock of and review the pattern, priorities emerging. Women who have gained above average financial savviness refer to a comprehensive, half yearly or quarterly review of all their personal finances. (Either with the aid of professionals or even informally by themselves or with their family members). Timely, consistent, comprehensive reviews provide validation of long-term goals, bring alive new ideas to pursue, help plan changes, become more responsive.

 

Other advantages are the visibility, joint responsibility and approval opportunities provided. This is true, even if the husband, partner, father, brother or son is the implementor, decision-maker of personal financial matters. Women and girls are fully updated on how those decisions are faring, impacting them.

 

A panelist shared a delightful anecdote on how her spouse schedules weekend review meeting in their home, every quarter. Even though the spouse handles his own, his wife’s, the elders, the child’s personal finances, he insists that as a ‘client’ the wife is fully updated, and in alignment with the decisions being taken. Similar stories of sons walking their mothers, sisters (every two months) on their personal financial update, reveal the advantages of reviews.

 

Preparedness to surmount future challenges: Several women share that when facing unexpected ‘life challenges’, well-prepared financial records help immensely. Women narrated stories of estrangement, separation, health or relationship issues – challenging scenarios in which the financial need was acute. In these trying times, the stand-out factor that helped women not just survive but cope well, was their meticulous personal financial record keeping (through the years). One of the most telling stories, in our panel,  was about a very long marital relationship ending unexpectedly. Being a ‘simple housewife’, the woman did not have any financial means of her own. However, thanks to her long-standing habit of financial record keeping, she was able to receive all that was rightly due to her, from her former spouse.

 

ALLYSHIP FOR FINANCIAL RECORD KEEPING IS ON ‘THE LIST’: Record-keeping is one of those ‘brilliant basics’ that can help women and girls grow in financial savviness. What is more, it is, relatively speaking in familiar territory, provides much visibility, alignment, and helps women to be prepared for future challenges. Encouraging personal financial record-keeping is near the top of the “to do” list for allyship from brands.

 

 

Shaziya Khan is National Planning Director, Wunderman Thompson. She has won the Jay Chiat Grand Prix  for Strategy and Three WPP Atticus Global Awards for ‘Original Thinking in Marketing Communication’. Her views here are personal. 

 

 

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