If you listened to the HerMoney podcast a few weeks ago, to episode 223, you heard all about “What White Women Can Do To Be Allies For Women of Color.” In fact, that was the title of the episode, and we spent some time with two very special women talking about the real action steps we can all take to help elevate diverse voices in the workplace, and help our colleagues of color advance. And it was during this episode that one of our guests, Judge Karen Ortiz, referenced a book that had touched her life, “The Memo: What Women Of Color Need To Know To Secure A Seat At The Table.” Of course we immediately ran out to snag a copy for ourselves, and then reached out to it’s incredible author, Minda Harts, who kindly agreed to join us this week! Her book is a career guide that exposes some of the ugly truths that keep women of color from having a seat at the table in corporate America, and it just came out in paperback for the very first time yesterday, Sept. 16.
In addition to being an author, Minda is also the CEO of “The Memo, LLC.”, a career development platform for women of color, and she hosts a weekly podcast called “Secure The Seat.” In this episode, Minda weighs in on some of the microaggressions she’s experienced over the years, and shares an anecdote about how she was judged in a previous job for wearing orange nail polish.
“Some people might say, ‘Oh that’s not a big deal,’ but when it lands on you, it feels like a big deal, you know? And when you have those certain comments all the time, you think about how that traumatizes your work experience and how you’re engaging with people, or the way that you might be shrinking.”
Minda offers some solutions for what women of color can do and say when they are victims of microaggressions, and what white women can do when they witness microaggressions committed against their colleagues of color. “We have to hold each other accountable. Act like that’s your daughter, your brother, your sister, or you — how would you want someone to intervene on your behalf?” she says.
Jean and Minda also talk about what corporate America is doing wrong when it comes to advancing women of color, and what they’re actually doing right.
Minda also shares who’s in her “top 8” of people — the folks who are on her squad, who have helped her find success and fulfillment over the years.
The pair also talk about how best to secure a seat at the table in a remote work world, where you get very little facetime with your boss, and you’ve lost some of the usual office touchstones that helped keep your colleagues close.
“Now that we don’t have that physical space, we have to redefine what success looks like, and what networking looks like. I often say that your career goals didn’t change because you’re in quarantine. Your promotion, those asks, those things are still important, they just might look a little bit different in terms of how you get to the end goal, and so all the women listening: This isn’t the time to shrink. People are getting promotions. People are getting advances, and you should be part of that. I think the main thing is making sure you know what you want. What are your asks? How are you quantifying your value? How are you articulating your worth to the people that matter? Are you having those conversations with your manager, to remind them, you know ‘We talked about this in our last one-on-one, I still want to move forward in the company, I still want a management and leadership role, that hasn’t changed. What do we need to do to make sure we’re still on that track?’ Women are going to need to lean into those conversations in a way that we haven’t before,” Minda says.
Minda also says that a lot of decisions are being made at companies right now, so don’t think you have to put your career growth on hold, even if it feels like outside factors are overshadowing your own personal goals. Continue to meet with your supervisor, ask people to join you for a remote coffee or cocktail, and keep striving for what you want.
Jean and Minda also discuss allyship, and what white women need to be doing more of to advance their colleagues of color. “Take time to continue to listen, to continue to educate yourself,” she says. “How do you become a better ally? You learn about what some of your colleagues might be going through.”
The pair also talk about salary, and why more women don’t discuss their salaries with one another.
In Mailbag, Jean and Kathryn dive into questions on the value of long term care policies vs. just saving for healthcare expenses yourself, and we also hear from a listener who is considering trying to recover $2,000 from her former financial advisor. Then, they tackle a question from a listener who is looking for the best place to invest and give back at the same time. And in Thrive, Jean breaks down four specific financial gaps that impact women when it comes to Social Security.
This podcast is proudly supported by Edelman Financial Engines. Let our modern wealth management advice raise your financial potential. Get the full story at EdelmanFinancialEngines.com. Sponsored by Edelman Financial Engines – Modern wealth planning. All advisory services offered through Financial Engines Advisors L.L.C. (FEA), a federally registered investment advisor. Results are not guaranteed. AM1969416
Minda Harts: (00:02)
Now that we don’t have kind of that physical space, we have to redefine what success looks like and what networking looks like. And so, I often say that your career goals didn’t change because now we’re in quarantine, your promotion, those asks, those things are still important. They just might look a little bit different in terms of how you get to the end goal. And so, you know, all the women listening, this isn’t the time to shrink, right? People are getting promotions. People are getting advances. And you should be part of that.
Jean Chatzky: (00:29)
HerMoney is supported by Fidelity Investments. You work too hard for your money to let it sit on the sidelines. Fidelity can show you how to demand more from your money every day. Visit Fidelity.com/HerMoney to learn more.
Jean Chatzky: (00:51)
Hey everybody. I’m Jean Chatzky. Thank you so much for joining us today on HerMoney. If you were listening to the show a few weeks back, to Episode 223, you heard all about what white women can do to be allies for women of color. In fact, that was the title of the episode. And we spent some time with two very special women talking about the real action steps that we can all take to help elevate diverse voices in the workplace and help our colleagues of color advance. And it was during that episode that one of our guests, Judge Karen Ortiz, referenced a book that had really touched her in her life – that she felt could be an important educational tool for everyone listening. That book is called “The Memo: What Women Of Color Need To Know To Secure A Seat At The Table.” And at the time, I hadn’t read the book. So, immediately after the recording, I picked up a copy and then perhaps, not surprisingly, we reached out to it’s incredible author, Minda Harts, who kindly agreed to join us here today. So, just a little bit about Menda. In addition to writing this book, she is the CEO of The Memo, LLC. It is a career development platform for women of color. She is also an assistant professor at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and she hosts her own weekly podcast. It’s called “Secure the Seat.” If you haven’t picked up a copy of the book yet, it just came out in paper back yesterday, September 16th. And it’s a career guide that exposes some of the ugly truths that keep women of color from having a seat at the table in corporate America and offers a roadmap for effecting real change within the system. I found there’s something in it for women of all colors, of all career fields. And we are just so happy to have you here with us Minda. Hi.
Minda Harts: (02:51)
Hi Jean. Thank you so much. And thank you to Karen for shining a light on The Memo.
Jean Chatzky: (02:55)
We loved having her here too. So, tell all of us a little bit about the book and what inspired you to write it.
Minda Harts: (03:01)
Yeah, I appreciate that question. It’s interesting because as many of us women, we read a lot of books and I was in my corporate career at the time, and I was always reading a lot of books, but I realized that I wasn’t reading a lot of books that were written by people of color in terms of what it’s like to be one of the only ones, women of color, Black women in the workplace. And I started to feel like our stories weren’t being told, that all women don’t experience the workplace the same. And I started to feel that missing in the career development genre, if you will. And so, Toni Morrison, she said, write the book you want to read. And that’s exactly what I did. I said, well, I have these lived experiences and I know that women all across the board, but women of color specifically, we’ve worked too hard to lean out, due to some of the systems that are beyond our control. And so, I wanted to speak to those careers, giving a voice to the experiences of women of color. And I didn’t know if I was the one Jean, but I said, I have some experiences. I have some stories. So I went for it.
Jean Chatzky: (04:08)
And we’re all glad that you did. Why the name, The Memo. I mean, it’s so memorable for lack of a better word.
Minda Harts: (04:15)
Yeah. Well, we all know what getting those memos are like, right? In the working world. Agendas, what have you. And I realized that some people have not gotten the memo that women of color deserve a seat at the table too. And I wanted to write that in a way of saying, hey, we gotta get the memo. There’s so much talent that’s going untapped that we’re not utilizing by retaining and advancing. And I just wanted to shed a light again on the experiences of, not just one size fits all solutions, but looking at that intersectional lens.
Jean Chatzky: (04:47)
In the book, you provide a lot of insight into exactly how the experience of women of color in corporate America is very different than it is for white women. Can you just share an example or two?
Minda Harts: (05:02)
Yeah, I think right now a really great example is just race, right? I know that as a gender, we face a lot of misogyny, sexism, et cetera. So, there are those similar themes. But the reality is, some of us have more proximity to power and influence than others. And I think that sometimes our networks are not the same. So, maybe those who have maybe a family member or know somebody who helped them get a job. Sometimes women of color just don’t have the same networks to tap into. But then also too, when you talk about gender and race, now it’s compounded. So, yes. I am a woman, but I’m also a Black woman. And so, there are certain things that come with being that. For example, things that maybe a white woman may not have to, for example, I write about n the book, I had orange finger nail polish on and my manager…
Jean Chatzky: (05:56)
I was gonna ask you to tell that story.
Minda Harts: (05:56)
My manager, he said, you people love bright colors. And he joked around for 15 minutes about Black people loving bright colors. And those are the type of things that you would probably never hear in that way. Right. Jean? And it makes you feel a certain way, especially when you’re the only one. You don’t feel like you could say anything, because if you do say anything, then you took it the wrong way. We have to manage our emotions and manage the relationships just to try to make it through the day. And I think that we have to humanize these experiences. You know, some people would say, oh, that’s just Tim being Tim. But sometimes Tim being Tim could really be harmful to those in the workplace that look different.
Jean Chatzky: (06:36)
Yeah. It feels like a punch in the gut. And as you were saying that, I just was remembering, and I don’t pretend by the way to understand the microaggressions and the outward aggressions that you have dealt with and that women of color have dealt with for years, but I just flashed back to, I guess it was middle school, when I was a Jewish girl in a town where there were five Jews in my high school class. And somebody said, well, you people. My hair was frizzing and somebody said, well, you people, you always have a lot of hair, or something to that effect. And I mean, it was awful then, but to experience it that frequently, we can’t stand for it.
Minda Harts: (07:16)
And it sticks with you, right? Like some people might say, oh, that’s not a big deal, right? But when it lands on you, it feels like a big deal, you know? And when you have those certain comments all the time, you think about how that traumatizes your work experience and the way you’re engaging with people or the way that you might be shrinking, right?
Jean Chatzky: (07:35)
So, as you look at corporate America today and the corporate landscape, what is corporate America getting wrong when it comes to advancing women of color? And what are they actually doing right?
Minda Harts: (07:48)
Yeah. I think there’s a lot right now, especially. I’m really optimistic, Jean, that corporate America has the opportunity right now to get more things right. Right? We get to set a new precedent to what good looks like. And I think, previously, we weren’t talking about race, right? That was one thing. There were just certain things you don’t talk about at work. And when you don’t talk about things like race, then that excludes a whole race or race of people. And I think now, finally, companies are kind of leaning into their curves and saying, you know what, if we’re going to move forward and we’re going to be successful, then we have to talk about some things that have been uncomfortable, so that we can find the solutions. And so, for me, I think, previously, anybody who’s not talking about sexism or racism or homophobic. Those sorts of things. Ageism. If we’re not talking about the things that affect our demographics, then we’re getting it wrong. So, I think the moment that we start to have these conversations and get to know each other better, we’ll be able to humanize each other’s experiences and really get down to making the workplace better than we found it. So, I’m really excited about going forward because leaders right now, they get to make choice, right? What side of history they want to be on in the workplace.
Jean Chatzky: (08:59)
You talk about the concept of a top eight. What’s a top eight and who’s in your top eight right now? And why are they there?
Minda Harts: (09:07)
Thank you for asking. I think I was maybe aging myself just a little bit with using in the book, I talk about Myspace. And back then, Tom had us all create these top eights. And I didn’t realize it at the time, being younger. But having these people in your squad, having people who you can invest in and who they can equally invest in you. And I often say that success is not a solo sport. Like we need people on our team to help us inside the workplace and outside the workplace. And even people who you may not even know. Like, I’m sure that a lot of people look at you Jean, as part of their top eight, right? And they may have never met you, but they listen to your podcast. They watch your content. And you’re giving them insight and you’re invested in their success. And I think that we get to redefine what our network looks like, especially during quarantine, that there are no rules, right? We get to build our thought leaders, you know, our bench, whatever you want to call it. And I think that in every season of our life, we need those people who are rooting us on, who are giving us advice, who are also having those hard conversations with us, right? And so, I think it’s important to find those people. And you may not have eight right away, but start with one or two, if you don’t have it. But I think it feels really good when you have people who want to see you win and vice versa.
Jean Chatzky: (10:24)
It’s like having a personal board of directors. And you don’t have to share all eight, but share a couple. Who’s in yours?
Minda Harts: (10:31)
You know, so, it’s interesting. I think now that The Memo has been out, I say that there’s a lot of people on my list – more than eight now. But what I will say is, one person in particular is my mom. She’s in my top eight all the time because she’s somebody who knows me, who can help keep me centered and grounded. And she gives me that advice that maybe somebody else wouldn’t, you know? And she says it with love, but she can also know that she could say things again, that others can’t. And then also on those days where I’m questioning, what am I doing? Should I be saying this? Should I be going this direction? And somebody who can just say, you know what Minda, yes. You’re doing it. Keep going. And so we do need those people, family members and chosen family, that can also help. But yes, definitely that. And then also for me, because I do a lot of work around racial justice in the workplace, also my faith leader, because we deal with some very hard conversations. And I also think we have to find those places to heal as well. And so, having kind of somebody who can also help me stay centered. So, those are two people on my squad.
Jean Chatzky: (11:36)
I love that. I have more questions and I want to dive into them in just a sec. But before we do that, let me remind everybody that HerMoney is proudly sponsored by Fidelity Investments. It’s no secret that women are on a different financial journey than men. So, it’s important to plan for those differences when thinking about retirement, social security, investing, and more. Fidelity can help. They’re taking steps to help women demand more from their money. Because you’ve worked way too hard to get where you are to keep your money on the sidelines. So, get the skills and the investment advice that you need to put it to work for you. You can visit the Fidelity.com/HerMoney to learn more. I am talking with Minda Harts, author of “The Memo: What Women Of Color Need To Know To Secure A Seat At The Table.” Just out in paperback. Hot off the presses. Or hot into your Kindle or other e-reader. So, let’s talk a little bit about this strange, strange time that we are living through. How do you secure a seat at the table in this remote world, where you get very little, if any, face time with your boss and you you’ve lost some of those usual touchstones.
Minda Harts: (12:51)
Yeah. You know, one of the questions that I used to get when I was in front of people physically was, well, how do you have these conversations? How do you identify people in the office, right. And now that we don’t have kind of that physical space, we have to redefine what success looks like and what networking looks like. And so, I often say your career goals didn’t change because now we’re in quarantine. Your promotion, those asks, those things are still important. They just might look a little bit different in terms of how you get to the end goal. And so, you know, all the women listening, this isn’t the time to shrink, right? People are getting promotions, people are getting advances and you should be part of that. I think the main thing is making sure you know what you want. What are your asks? How are you quantifying your value? How are you articulating your worth to the people that matter? So, when we talked about top eight, when you think about those people inside your network in the workplace, maybe that’s your manager. Are you having those conversations with your manager to remind them, you know, we talked about this on our last one on one. I still want to move forward in the company. I still want a management and leadership role. That hasn’t changed. What do we need to do to make sure that we’re still on that track? I think right now, women are really going to have to lean in right into those conversations in a way that we may not have done it before. And then also, give yourself permission to reach out to some of those people and ask for a virtual coffee, right? Or when you’re in the chat room, maybe you didn’t get a chance to verbally say anything on screen, because maybe so many people were talking, but utilize the chat box, let people know that you’re still engaged. And so, I just don’t want us to shrink during this time because so many decisions are still being made and I want you to be a part of them.
Jean Chatzky: (14:30)
I totally agree. And I have actually, I’ve been pretty vocal about how I am trying to reduce the number of zooms that I’m on a week. But, I have set individual calls with all the members of my team. And we do it once a week and they’re short, but we need them. I mean, because otherwise we’re all just working in these little bubbles and it’s impossible for us to know what’s going on.
Minda Harts: (14:56)
Absolutely. And we gotta let people know, right? We are our best advocate. And there are so many things that are going on during the day that we might not be top of mind for everybody, right? So, we have to remind them that, hey, I still add value. I’m still here.
Jean Chatzky: (15:08)
Yeah, absolutely. And it’s the time to toot your own horn a little bit, I think. As I mentioned before, we did a whole show on allyship. But can you tell us from your perspective what white women need to be doing more of to help advance their colleagues of color?
Minda Harts: (15:24)
Yeah. I appreciate that question because I know that, I mean, I’m not a white woman, so, my assumption is that there’s a lot who feel there’s probably a lot of information being thrown at them these days, right? And what I really think is, take that time to continue to listen. Take time to educate yourself. Like, The Memo, it’s for you too, right? It’s one of those books that, it talks about women of color, but how do you be a better ally? You learn about what some of your colleagues might be going through, right? Some of the people on your team might be dealing with, so you’re better equipped. And then lastly, action. Action looks very different for everybody, but I would encourage you to figure out what does action look like for you? Many of us might have been a girl scout or a brownie. And, you know, in order to get the badge, you had to do an action, right? And so, in order to pride yourself in being a good colleague or coworker or ally, it’s going to require something of you. And so, I can’t tell you what that is, but I hope that you will listen, educate, and take some action, because doing nothing will only put us back where we were, right? And we need all hands on deck.
Jean Chatzky: (16:30)
Yeah, absolutely. I was cleaning out boxes the past couple of weeks cause we’re prepping for a move eventually once COVID’s over. And I actually found my girl scout sash.
Minda Harts: (16:40)
Jean Chatzky: (16:40)
Yes. And I did not have that many badges. I thought I had a lot more than were actually on that sash. I don’t know where they went or if I didn’t earn them in the first place. I want to just touch on a couple more things before we say goodbye. The first is salary. Why don’t more women talk about our salaries with one another?
Minda Harts: (16:57)
I know you believe this, but we should. We have to. It’s imperative, right? Because we can do all the trainings. We can read all the books. But if we don’t talk to each other, then that’s the intel that we need. I mean, a very long story short, just recently as a public speaker, one company had offered to pay me a certain amount and it was lower than we had originally discussed. And I actually knew, not well, but I knew another woman who happened to be white, who had spoke there just a month ago, in virtual environment. And I asked her, I said, you know, this is uncomfortable. I’ve never done this before, but I just want to know, you know, they’re offering me this, did they offer you the same or more? And she was very honest with me and I appreciate her for doing this. And she said, they actually paid me three times the amount. And I needed that information, right? So, that I can go back and have a different kind of conversation without bringing her into it. But I had to be my best advocate and I consider myself somewhat knowledgeable in negotiation. But that was a piece of the puzzle that I needed in order to go and make a proper ask going forward. And I said to them, you’ve asked me to come in and speak about advancing women of color in the workplace. Based off of some information that I’ve gathered, I know that you’re underpaying me. So, I can’t in good conscious do this. But if you’d like to figure out how to make this right, I’d love to do that as well. And so, miraculously, they were able to come up with the fee, right? But I know that maybe Minda of two years ago might’ve not done either of those things, right? And I think it’s really imperative that we do have the conversations and the more we normalize talking about our money, the better.
Jean Chatzky: (18:33)
Yeah. Good for you. Absolutely. I mean, we’ve just had, there’s an organization of personal finance journalists and speakers and podcasters and things like that. And there was just a big hubbub about something very, very similar. And I think that the end result is that more people will be more open about sharing what we’re being paid. And I think that’s absolutely the right thing to do. Last question here. I just want to come back to those microaggressions for a second. If you are experiencing them at work, how do you move forward from that? And if you are a white woman and you see others who are experiencing them, what would you say to do?
Minda Harts: (19:18)
Yeah. I think it’s tough because again, I think as a person of color, sometimes it can be a risk in bringing something to someone’s attention. And I think that’s why it’s so important that we build relationships because maybe we’re not the only one kind of fighting the battle. But we have support. But then the other thing I would say, especially in this virtual environment, that many of us are still in, leveraging this. Because if you see somebody has said something and we all know when it’s that awkward silence, or it made us feel a certain type of way. This is an opportunity that you can send a direct message to that person. You know, hey, Sally, I noticed that you said this. I just wanted to make you aware of it because I can only imagine how this might’ve landed on some of our other colleagues. You know, you don’t have to say it out loud. You don’t have to shame anyone. But you’re making people aware that, hey, we’re not okay with this type of behavior. Because I think the issue is, so many people get to continue to harm be harmful, intentional or unintentional, and we never talked to them about it. And so, now you can do it through a direct message on a chat or something like that, or have a conversation, you know, pick up the phone and talk to them. Because I think it’s really important when you talk about psychological safety, we have to put guard rails up so that all of our colleagues feel comfortable. And we can’t let, so-and-so continue to so-and-so, if it’s harming the better good of the company. Because two things can be true. They can be a really great person, but they also can maybe be harming other people, right? And so, I think that we have to hold each other accountable and act like that’s your daughter, your sister, your brother, or you. How would you want someone to intervene on your behalf?
Jean Chatzky: (20:59)
Absolutely. Minda, where can our listeners find more of you, in addition to listening to your podcast?
Minda Harts: (21:06)
Yes. Thank you. Well, definitely go pick up the paperback version of The Memo. And I actually have some new scripts in this one that I’m really excited about. But you can go to MindaHarts.com. All of my information is there.
Jean Chatzky: (21:19)
Great. Thank you so much and stay safe and stay healthy.
Minda Harts: (21:23)
You too. Thank you, Jean, for having me.
Jean Chatzky: (21:24)
Absolutely. I’ll have you back anytime. And we will be right back with Kathryn and your mailbag.
Jean Chatzky: (21:33)
And HerMoney’s Kathryn Tuggle joins me now for our mailbag. Hey Kathryn.
Kathryn Tuggle: (21:37)
Hey Jean. I just loved that chat and I just loved that the recommendation came from another one of our guests. So, what a great show.
Jean Chatzky: (21:45)
Oh, well thank you for teeing it up. She was terrific and I agree with you. I like when we get things from our community that bring more things from our community. It just feels communal. I know. I couldn’t think of another word. But it does, you know. I hope people know that when they’re on our Facebook group or when they drop us an email that we actually read those and we take them seriously.
Kathryn Tuggle: (22:12)
Yeah, absolutely. I have gotten many show ideas over the years from people in our Facebook group or just people dropping me an email, or even on social media. I have a few Twitter and Instagram followers that are part of the HerMoney community. And they’ll occasionally share something with me and just say, hey, just wanted to pass this along. So, it’s always appreciated.
Jean Chatzky: (22:31)
Absolutely, absolutely. I know we’ve got a lot in our mailbag today. So, let’s dive in.
Kathryn Tuggle: (22:36)
Our first question comes to us from Suzanne. She writes, hi Jean and Kathryn. I’m pleased to be slowly getting my college-age daughter onboard to your podcast. I have a general question about insurance, specifically, long-term-care insurance. My husband believes there’s such a thing as being over insured. We’re looking at the value of long-term care insurance policies versus simply just saving for these healthcare expenses ourselves. We feel comfortable with our overall approaches to spending and saving. Any comments you have on this would be welcome. Thanks again for all you do.
Jean Chatzky: (23:07)
So, I think this is a very interesting way to look at it, Suzanne. And I have to say, I agree with your husband. I think there can be a thing as being over insured. Not really when it comes to health insurance these days, but when it comes to life insurance and perhaps when it comes to long-term care insurance, although I don’t think that many people are in that boat. There are several questions that we ask ourselves when it comes to choosing between paying for long-term care insurance and funding our own care toward the end of our lives. The first is, if we buy long-term care insurance, can we actually afford to pay the premiums for the long term. Like disability insurance, if you stop paying these premiums, in many cases, and there are a lot of different permutations to these policies these days, so I want to make sure that I tread carefully. But in many traditional long-term care policies, if you stop paying them, then the coverage lapses. And if you started paying them and then have to let the coverage lapse, that’s just money down the drain. So, you don’t want to put yourself in a situation where that looks like an inevitability. The second thing to ask is, what amount of care are you likely to need or to use? We know statistically that people who need nursing care, and not everybody who buys long-term care insurance uses these benefits. In fact, fewer than 10% actually do. But of those people who do need nursing care benefits, or to be in a nursing home or an assisted living facility, they typically need three years worth of benefits, not substantially more than that. And so, I would say over-insuring means that you are buying a bucket of benefits to provide for substantially more than that. The last thing that I would look at is your overall financial situation. I’ve always felt that long-term care insurance makes sense for a pretty specific group of people. It makes sense for people who have enough assets so that, if they needed care, they wouldn’t so quickly spend through their money and qualify for Medicaid, and not so much in assets that they can very easily just pay for their own care. And generally, those are people with assets of a million, to a couple million dollars. Maybe a million to up to $5 million. Beyond that, you can probably pay for your own care. But you may choose not to, if you want to leave all of the assets that you’ve accumulated as a bequest to your kids or your favorite charity or something else. So those are the things that I think that you should be looking at. I don’t know how old you are cause you didn’t tell me. But if you’re around the age of 50, now is the time that you should be wading into these waters and thinking about whether or not you want to make a purchase like this. I will tell you that what I did was to opt for a hybrid policy. I bought a cash value life insurance policy with a bucket of long-term care benefits. And although this was a little more expensive than plain vanilla long-term care, if I end up not needing those benefits, not needing to use them, then the money in that policy will just flow to my children after I die. And that to me was a better way to look at it. So, that’s just an option to put on your plate as you start shopping as well.
Kathryn Tuggle: (27:14)
Yeah. And that’s such a good point just about shopping and seeing what’s right for you, and seeing what all the options are out there because there are so many of them.
Jean Chatzky: (27:21)
So many. And when you start shopping, you want to make sure that you’re dealing with somebody who sells a lot of long-term care. Because, as I said, these policies are changing all the time and they are complicated.
Kathryn Tuggle: (27:35)
Absolutely. Our next question comes to us from Donna. She writes, first, I’d like to say how much I enjoy and find new value in your HerMoney emails and blog posts. Many of the articles have truly opened my eyes and have changed my thinking and behavior with regard to money. I was wondering if you have an opinion on a financial advisor continuing to charge large monthly management fees after a client goes to all cash in their brokerage account. In late March, when the market took a dive due to COVID, I asked my advisor to sell my $700,000 in holdings and place it all in cash until we had a better sense of where things were going. My request may have been drastic, but I’m less than a year from retirement and after seeing a $50,000 drop in my balance, I just couldn’t stomach staying the course, as my advisor basically insisted that I do. In the end, I did get him to sell everything on March 24th, but then I hadn’t heard anything back from him until a week ago when he suggested it was time to do a mid-year financial checkup. As I looked through my statement, since the sell-off, I saw that he was still charging me $500 a month for management of my all cash account, and when I questioned whether this was an oversight or a mistake, he responded with a rudely worded email saying I was paying for the privilege of having him as an advisor and that I should move on with another advisor if I wasn’t happy about his approach. So I did. I terminated his services immediately and have started with a new advisor who’s been transparent, responsive, and respectful, and who is slowly getting me back into the market. This new advisor thought irregular that I was being charged fees for a cash account and suggested that I contact FINRA and the SEC for advice, which I did. Both agreed, it’s not standard course to charge fees for cash unless, maybe in some cases, it was part of an advisor strategy to move to cash, which in my case, it was not. Sorry for the rambling. I just want to attempt to get the nearly $2,000 back from my original advisor for these fees and I was wondering if you’ve had any experience in this area. Thanks so much for any resources or advice you might offer.
Jean Chatzky: (29:35)
Thanks so much for writing Donna. And let me just say good for you. First of all, good for you for reaching out and calling FINRA and the SEC. I don’t know many people who would have gone that far. And good for you for firing a financial advisor who was not treating you respectfully. There are many, many good financial advisors out there. Clearly, you have found another one who is a much more respectful communicator and is willing to acknowledge all of the different feelings that the volatility in a market like this one can bring about. As far as your $2,000. I got to say, I don’t have a lot of hope. My guess is that when you started working with this advisor, you made a deal that you would, and it may have been contractual, that you would pay him a certain percentage of assets under management. And even when you went to cash with some of these assets, or all of these assets, they were still considered quote unquote, under management. I’m glad that we’re talking about $2,000 and that we’re not talking about $20,000. I mean, that I have to say. I know the 2000 is really, really frustrating and I am sorry that you are having to deal with this. But I almost feel like I’m just glad that you got rid of this guy and that you got out as inexpensively as you did. I do think that maintaining the open necessary communication as you start to rebuild the risk in your portfolio is something that’s going to be really important. We have seen this a lot with people, and I’m glad to see that you’re going back in the market, that when they take a step back, it is very difficult for them to get back in. And I am glad to see that you have already started to make those moves as the market has started to come back.
Kathryn Tuggle: (31:35)
Yeah, absolutely. I’m so impressed by the action that she took with all of this and just being her own advocate in so many different ways.
Jean Chatzky: (31:43)
Yeah. I mean, do you think I’m wrong about the $2,000? I just don’t think she’s getting it back.
Kathryn Tuggle: (31:50)
I guess I don’t know enough to know. I also think, is it worth the hassle? I think that that’s maybe the right question. If this is going to cause you a lot of stress and you’re going to have a lot of negative interactions with this financial planner, then maybe that’s just the cost of doing business and you just walk away from it. I think it depends on how much emotional turmoil it’s going to put you through to get it back is what it comes down to.
Jean Chatzky: (32:11)
Yeah. That’s a very, very good point. Anyway, I hope that your emotional turmoil has been minimized with this new advisor and that you’re finding it a lot easier to sleep at night.
Kathryn Tuggle: (32:21)
Yes, definitely. Our last question comes to us from an anonymous listener. She writes, hi Jean. I found the HerMoney podcast about a year and a half ago, and recently finished listening to the last past episode. I take you with me when I run, walk the dogs or do the dishes. And I feel more knowledgeable and confident after having listened to the podcast. A bit of background, my husband and I are both 52 and live in Phoenix. We’re well invested in the stock market, our retirement accounts and real estate. We’ve contributed a significant amount to our Fidelity charitable account for giving, and have well-funded 529 plans for our four nieces and nephews, as we have no children. With a bit of luck, yes, Maria Konnikova, my husband sold his business in March for the low seven figures. We’re both still working, making about $350,000 a year jointly, and having established revocable trust to direct our assets once we pass. We plan to continue to invest and buy one additional rental property and are working with advisors to maximize our investments, tax strategies and giving opportunities. We should be set for retirement at 60 if we continue on this path. My question, we have about 1 million that we would like to invest in a nontraditional way. Ideas we’ve kicked around include venture capital, hard money loans, or helping people who are struggling right now. But we aren’t in a position to do this without getting a return on our investment. Our goal is a minimum of 5 to 7% return. How do we give back and get back at the same time? We’d like to align our money with our values and are searching for a resource or starting point for ideas and options. Any guidance you have is appreciated. Trust me, we both realize how incredibly fortunate we are to be in this situation, particularly during this time. Thank you for all you do for women and the personal finance community.
Jean Chatzky: (34:05)
Thank you so much for your letter and congratulations on building such a wonderful financial picture. I know that you said a little bit of luck, but it’s very clear to me that there has been a lot of thought and effort and planning that has gone into creating this robust and stable life, because it just doesn’t happen unless you do the work. And you have clearly done the work. I am struggling to square two things that you’re asking for simultaneously. The first is investing in a nontraditional way, hard money loans, venture capital with the return that you’re looking to get a 5 to 7% minimum. I’m not sure that you can expect that without taking a little bit more risk than you may be acknowledging that you’re taking by venturing into these areas. Which is not to say that you shouldn’t do it, because it does sound to me like even without getting a great return on this money, you probably would be just fine. So, I would first take a look at that. And I might reduce the pool of money that you’re looking to invest in these riskier ways until you come up with a figure that,, if you didn’t have it, you would in fact be okay, because I think that may be a way to allow you to go into this without feeling overly anxious or emotionally drained. I have had a lot of both fun and a decent amount of success with some angel investments. And I’d encourage you to think about looking at some angel investment venture capital type networks, that would allow you to learn about how to become an angel investor, to invest in a portfolio of businesses at the same time, and to do it with a group of likeminded people who can bring you opportunities while you bring opportunities to them and to the group. One of these networks that I have gotten involved in is through a community that I found through my Alma mater, but there are others that are located geographically. There are others that are for women only. I’m sure there are some that are for couples. And I bet if you just did a little bit of googling, you will easily be able to find your way. The other thing, and this may in fact line up a little more with your desire to get that bigger return that you can look at, is ESG investing. We just produced our second, if not our third podcast on ESG investing, which is investing in big companies, but doing it in a way that lines up with the world as you would like to see it. So, take a listen to our most recent podcast with Nicole Connelly who manages the ESG initiatives at Fidelity. I think you’ll learn a lot from her. And let us know what you decide to do. It sounds like an exciting road that you’re about to go down.
Kathryn Tuggle: (37:37)
It really does. I think, what an amazing position to be in financially – to be able to do all that and to give back to your nieces and nephews in the form of a college education. It’s just amazing.
Jean Chatzky: (37:47)
It is. It’s fantastic. I love hearing stories like that. Thank you, Kathryn, for great mailbag and a great show.
Kathryn Tuggle: (37:54)
Thanks Jean. Yeah. As always. Thanks.
Jean Chatzky: (37:57)
And in today’s Thrive, if you missed the 85th birthday of social security last month, you weren’t alone. It too suffered from a COVID-induced lack of celebration. But it’s a milestone that should be acknowledged. Well, far too few of us actually understand social security. And because we don’t have that grasp of it, we are leaving a lot of money on the table. At HerMoney.com, we broke down the four specific financial gaps that impact women when it comes to social security ,so that you can move to close them on your own behalf and get the social security that you deserve. Here’s a quick look. First, there’s a wage gap. Women earn 82 cents for every dollar a man earns, which means when we get to retirement we have less than men, even though we’ve been working just as hard. Then there’s the mom gap. When we leave our careers to care for kids, it costs us. Even just five years out of the workforce can potentially cost you up to 10% of the social security benefit you might have had. The widow gap. Nearly half of all men claim their social security benefits before full retirement age. Men also die an average of five years before women. If your spouse locks in his social security payout at age 62, it could potentially mean a lifetime of reduced benefits for you. And the care gap. Similar to the mom gap, this gap is created when you leave your employment during your earnings peak to care for mom and dad when they need you. So, how do we close these gaps and put more money in our pockets? First, wait as long as you can to start drawing benefits. The closer to age 70 you are, the better. Second, for women leaving the workforce to care for parents and kids, think long and hard about those decisions. Even if it seems that all of your earnings are going toward paying someone else to offer care, the choice to stay in the workforce and continue to earn social security credits, can be beneficial for years to come. I’m not saying that you should not take time out of the workforce to care for your kids, if you can afford it and if it’s something that you really want to do. I’m just saying that finances need to be a factor in the equation and not just today, but also down the road. Perhaps most importantly, women must continue to advocate for ourselves in terms of overall pay. The wage gap is just unacceptable. So, stay informed about where you stand financially. Go to the social security administration website, set up your account, look at your most current statement, and start to get a feel for what your future will look like. Thanks so much for joining me today on HerMoney. Thanks to Minda Harts for chatting with us about how we can all secure a seat at the table and how all women can work together as allies in the workplace. If you like what you hear, I hope you’ll subscribe to our show at Apple Podcasts. Leave us a review because we love hearing what you think. We also want to thank our sponsor Fidelity. We record this podcast out of CDM Sound Studios. Our music is provided by Video Helper and our show comes to you through Megaphone. Thanks so much for joining us and we’ll talk soon.