"What is the rising super power controlling 1/3 of global wealth?" Karen Reynolds Sharkey asked as she gave the keynote address at the Hampton Roads Chamber Professional Women's Leadership Luncheon on Tuesday, July 27th. Sharkey is Managing Director, National Business Owner Strategy Executive U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management.
The answer to the question she posed? Women. The topic for the event, " Women in Today's Financial World: The opportunities for you, your family, and your business," covered the status of women in today's financial environment and the planning opportunities today's business leaders should take advantage of for a sound financial future. According to Sharkey, American women controlled 51% of the personal wealth in the U.S., and are responsible for 8.2 trillion dollars of annual household spending in 2016. Sharkey lead the audience through a selection of data points on women and financial power, including how women lead 24% of family businesses, earn every level of educational degrees at a higher rate than men, and how 61% of families with children are dual-income households. Women have more purchasing power than ever and "through your purchases you communicate a great deal about your values," said Sharkey. As she proposed those values can be supporting other women by buying from woman-owned businesses and/or organizations focused on women's issues and woman-friendly policies.
Though women are gaining ground in their purchasing power, they are also often the ones facing the challenges wealth can provide. Issues like saving and preparing for elder care, long term care, the financial security of children and grandchildren and in the case of business owners, a succession plan can often seem too insurmountable to even begin to think about. Sharkey calls these "sleep disrupters" and noted that while getting started isn't easy, it's a way women can invest in themselves. " If you haven't started in any planning, take the first step," said Sharkey, "start with a will or the power of attorney. Basic planning will help to ensure that if anything was to happen, someone else will know your wishes." Sharkey said the first documents to consider attaining include: a will, living trust, power of attorney for both finances and healthcare, and a trust for children. Having easily accessible digital versions of these documents is also recommended.
"Life as a business leader can be very complex," said speaker sponsor Elizabeth Hopkins, Senior Vice President, Private Client Advisor, U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management, "these types of events are so impactful because seeing female leaders discuss these issues can give women the confidence to speak up in meetings with their financial planners and have a voice in the discussion." The Hampton Roads Chamber strives to be an impactful advocate for women in business, and the Professional Women's Leadership Luncheon Series and the Director of Women's Events, Pearl Smith, works hard to bring amazing, inspiring speakers to the Hampton Roads market.
For six years Pearl Smith has done great work for the Chamber. "Pearl, through her speakers, encourages women to look at the extraordinary and see how we can inspire others every day," said Series Presenting Sponsor Louise Edwards, Senior Manager of Business Development and Planning, Bon Secours Health Systems.
Thank you to Pearl and all of our sponsors: Series Presenting Sponsor, Bon Secours; Speaker Sponsor, Bank of America; Series Luncheon Sponsors, Cox Communications, Farm Fresh, Tidewater Home Funding, Union Bank & Trust; Official Airline Sponsor, Southwest.
(Pictured here, from left to right: Ms. Karen Reynolds Sharkey, Managing Director National Business Owner Strategy Executive, U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management; Ms. Pearl Smith, Director, Women's Programs, Hampton Roads Chamber; Ms. Elizabeth Hopkins, Senior Vice President, Private Clint Advisor, U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management; Ms. Louise Edwards, Senior Manager, Business Development/Planning, Bon Secours Health System.)