Observed since the early 1900s and recognised and celebrated across the globe, Wednesday, 8 March celebrates International Women’s Day, an annual celebration and recognition of the women's rights movement, bringing attention to issues such as gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women. As a female founded, owned and led organisation, this is a subject that is close to our hearts.
It is also, however, a time to acknowledge and reflect on how far behind women (including trans women) remain when compared to their male counterparts, and this especially so when it comes to finances. This is something that comes up time and time again. Not only is there the well-publicised gender pay gap, but women generally have less control over their own finances and less understanding of their obligations and rights.
Together with our colleagues and partners, we have put together our top five tips for all women on financial planning and future protection and certainty.
1. Educate yourself!
As former family lawyers this is a particular bug bear of ours. Many people still harbour the illusion that they are in a “common law marriage” when, in fact, this form of unity does not exist. Unless you are married, you do not have any rights on the breakdown of the relationship, however long you have been together and regardless of whether or not you have children. You will also be unlikely to benefit if your partner dies without making a Will, as you will have no official legal connection to that person. Making sure your legal situation reflects your wishes and intentions is therefore particularly important for cohabiting couples.
2. Don’t sell yourself short.
Women notoriously struggle with negotiations when it comes to salary, and this is one of the leading contributing factors to the gender pay gap. Do not be afraid to ask for more than you want or would be happy with, as this provides scope for negotiation and to meet in the middle.
3. Prioritise your pension
Women are invariably the main caregivers when children are young, and it is tempting to want to delay saving into a pension or retirement scheme. However, having a pension will not only ensure that your long term future is secure, but may also maximise the total compensation you are receiving now. Many workplace pension or retirement schemes match your own chosen contributions (at least to a specified cap) so by not investing into a pension, you are potentially giving up thousands of pounds every year. Don’t forget to look into any state funded support and ensure that you are maximising your entitlements there. A little investment now will go a long way.
4. Don’t forget your estate plan
It is not only getting a Will (though this is an important first step!) but also getting some advice about your future and inheritance planning. Make sure you are dealing with your estate in the most tax efficient way possible, think about who you want your estate to pass to and consider the best way for assets to be held. Remember that cohabiting partners generally have no automatic entitlement to inherit if their loved one was to die without making a Will. Think too about beneficiary nominations (whether through insurance policies, death in service or pension plans) and make sure your wishes and nominations are up to date. Finally, don’t overlook taking out specific insurance policies (life insurance, critical illness etc) to guard against the unexpected happening and to provide you with peace of mind.
5. Talk talk talk
No-one relishes those difficult conversations but the best time to talk is now. Whether to a spouse, a partner, an elderly parent or a grown-up child, make sure you have a conversation about your position and your plans and wishes for the future. Hopefully you will not have to put those plans into action but, if the unexpected were to happen, you are at least prepared.
Wednesday, 8 March celebrates International Women’s Day, an annual celebration and recognition of the women's rights movement. It is also, however, a time to acknowledge and reflect on how far behind women (including trans women) remain when compared to their male counterparts, and this especially so when it comes to finances.
Whether you are moving in with a new partner and already own a property; your boss has tempted you with a sought-after secondment in a far-flung office or maybe, as we all are, you are feeling the squeeze and want to consider increasing your income. Whatever your reason for letting your property, it is important to make sure you have done your research.