The benefits of a high level of financial knowledge are undeniable. According to Annamaria Lusardi, an economics professor at Dartmouth, people who are financially literate, are “less likely to borrow at high costs, more likely to participate in financial markets, accumulate wealth, and plan for retirement.”
Dr. Lusardi writes:
“Financial literacy is an essential piece of knowledge that every student should have. Just as reading and writing became skills that enabled people to succeed in modern economies, today it is impossible to succeed without being able to ‘read and write’ financially.”
Given how essential financial literacy is for succeeding in today’s world, it is disheartening that, according to numerous studies, women are generally less financially knowledgeable than men. This gender gap in financial literacy may contribute to the imbalance in levels of financial stability and retirement preparedness that exists between women and men. It is also just one more factor behind the dearth of women working in financial services today.
Lacking both a thorough understanding of personal finances and the exposure to women role models who occupy positions of power within the financial services industry, many young women may think the whole financial realm is just not for them.
Invest In Girls
Arming young women with a strong understanding of both personal finances and the financial services industry has never been as important as it is now.
That’s where Invest In Girls comes in. A non-profit started in 2010, Invest In Girls’ mission is to “provide young women with a strong financial knowledge base, successful female mentors, and exposure to financial services, equipping them with the skills and confidence they need to become independent and influential women.”
Invest In Girls has a three-pronged approach –
- Education: There are currently 80 high school students participating in IIG’s three-year curriculum. Each year, IIG hosts four financial education interactive workshops taught by women who work in the financial services industry. These workshops cover the areas of budgeting, investing, and philanthropy – helping young women figure out how to take care of their day-to-day finances, how to invest their money, and how to give back.
- Mentoring: The power of IIG is that it goes beyond just teaching young women financial literacy by also offering one-on-one mentoring. Each girl is partnered with a woman working in financial services who she’ll meet, Skype, or have a phone conversation with at least once a month. IIG’s mentors prepare girls for college and possible careers in the financial services industry. Mentors will help guide their mentees through a broad range of topics such as choosing a college major, building a resume, applying for student loans, and career advice.
- Industry Exposure: Girls participating in the IIG program visit two financial services companies per year to gain a better understanding of the various career paths available to them within the financial services sector, and what a day in that field really looks like.
Pay it Forward: Become a Mentor
I founded the WE – Women Executives division of ECK Consulting in order to assist my clients in identifying and tracking the most talented women executives across the globe. And though there are many brilliant and accomplished emerging executive women starting out in financial services, many of the senior women I speak with are concerned that the pipeline of women coming into the industry is not as robust as it should be. That’s why I was very excited to hear about Invest In Girls. Providing girls with education, mentorship, and exposure to our industry will go a long way in creating the next generation of women in financial services.
I have been so impressed with the work IIG is doing to support the financial and leadership development of young women that I was honored and excited when I was asked to join their board of directors. I happily accepted the invitation and joined their fantastic board this Fall.
I have written before both about the importance of paying it forward and the power of working with other women within our industry for a greater good. IIG offers women the opportunity for both. I heartily encourage women working within our industry to become Invest In Girls mentors. The time commitment is minimal (one time per month communicating by email, Skype, or phone) and the payback of mentoring these motivated and wonderful young women is incredible.
It’s important work for our industry, our future women leaders, and ourselves.
If you are interested in becoming a mentor, please let me know in the comments section. Or you can contact IIG’s fabulous Program Director Gabrielle Rossetti at firstname.lastname@example.org.