Last year, mutual fund Fidelity Investments, one of the biggest financial services companies in the world with about $2.5 trillion in assets under management, set out to find out what women really worry about.
Lorna Kapusta, the firm’s head of women and investing, says, “We did a study a little over a year ago: What are the things getting in the way of feeling our best?” Among the biggest headaches she says — second only to job stress — are worries about money and about health, meaning mainly diet, exercise and sleep. “What we found is 85% of women overall are stressed about their finances and about six out of 10 women were stressed about both,” Kapusta told CO—.
And when it comes to money and investing, men and women are different. Kapusta says, “Men are more interested in [the] return. Women are more interested in goals, [in terms of] what you are trying to achieve in your life.” Women, more than men, tend to feel intimidated by the jargon and atmosphere around investing, Kapusta adds, and are more likely to feel that however much money they have is not enough to begin investing with — even as they have more economic power than ever before. Indeed, they are the breadwinners in 49% of U.S. households, she said, citing an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
Armed with that information, Fidelity went out looking for a corporate partner that could bring the same authority to the health side of the stress picture for women that Fidelity brings to finance. That led Fidelity to WW (formerly Weight Watchers). In June, the partners rolled out a webcast in a talk show format hosted by CBS news anchor Gayle King called “Demand More From Your Money & Health.” The series, which also features Fidelity’s president, personal investing, Kathleen Murphy, and WW CEO Mindy Grossman, is devoted to talk and advice — treating finance and health stress as interrelated concerns, both important aspects of anyone’s overall wellness.
The financial advice is grounded in commonsensical guidance — create an emergency fund, start investing for retirement, etc. — but it is couched in language meant to encourage and reassure, language that treats money as the emotional subject it is, not a mere matter of numbers. The overall message is that taking care of your financial health is a lot like taking care of your body: Consult with a pro to gather information and set goals; make a plan and stick to it; reward yourself for small steps; and don’t punish yourself for slips.
For about nine years, we have been really focused on women and money and their engagement with money and building their confidence.
Lorna Kapusta, head of women and investing, Fidelity
Fidelity is intent on the program’s inclusivity, offering financial planning solutions for all women, no matter the size of their bank account, Kapusta said.
“Demand More from Your Money & Health” topics covered include how common it is to experience health and finance related stress; how that stress manifests in managing one’s everyday life and when unexpected life events unfold; and the critical tips and tools available to navigate these situations.
Feedback from the series has been positive, Fidelity says, prompting a dialogue, with viewers writing in to share their own stories and asking additional questions.
The investment firm is developing new research and content related to how financial planning is unique to women, which will include a new video series to bow in 2020.
The free Fidelity and WW video series, available to all investors, not just Fidelity clients and WW members, comes as consumers and businesses alike view wellness in increasingly holistic terms, with financial, mental, physical and spiritual fitness intrinsically linked, interdependent and intertwined.
The holistic wellness space is estimated at $4.2 trillion in sales today and represents a massive opportunity for businesses, according to CB Insights 2019 Wellness Trends report. “Consumers are increasingly seeking products and experiences that promote well-being and healthy habits … And as consumer demand rises, businesses are buying into the trend.”
Financial services firms are no exception. “Beyond fitness, gut health, mental health, and much more, financial health has become a new frontier for wellness,” the report found.
“New tools and fintech platforms are emerging to provide more financial options to consumers — potentially contributing to an overall state of well-being through reduced stress, increased access to resources and greater resilience to unexpected events.
At the same time, companies are starting to zero in on women’s financial wellness — offering tools to become savvier investors, to boost wealth and to “de-stigmatize conversations around money,” the report said.
A strategic move for both businesses
That’s what Fidelity is aiming for. And by partnering with WW, the investment firm is in step with the broader trend of financial services companies turning to wellness-focused branding to better tie financial health to overall well-being, the report said.
At the same time, both Fidelity and WW are trying to change the way they are perceived by customers, and “Demand More” fits into their different strategies. For Fidelity, the overall goal is to show a more female-friendly face to the marketplace. Kapusta traces that back to the arrival of Kathleen Murphy as head of the company’s personal investing division in 2009. “For about nine years, we have been really focused on women and money and their engagement with money and building their confidence,” Kapusta told CO—.
In recent years, Fidelity, which is run by a woman CEO Abigail Johnson, the granddaughter of the company’s founder, has been aggressive about hiring women in both executive and retail roles.
The effort has also extended to initiatives like redesigning its retail locations. Gone are the stock tickers and TV screens showing CNBC. Desks have been replaced by round tables, sending a message that a Fidelity financial advisor working with a client on their investing goals is not — literally and figuratively — on opposite sides of the table, but instead working together.
For WW, the challenge has been to redefine the company beyond a focus on dieting, particularly as the fashion and advertising worlds have started to come to grips with the reality that being model-thin is neither practical nor necessarily healthy for most women. The company changed its name last year hoping to reinvent itself, in CEO Grossman’s words as “the mark of wellness.”
Restful sleep is one key mark of wellness, with Fidelity looking to relieve the 40% of women who lose a night’s sleep a month over financial worries — despite the fact that “women are making money like we never have before,” Kapusta said during a Fidelity breakfast attended by CO—.
One answer to unburdening women of that sleeplessness is to “make sure the money we make is making money for us,” she said.
– Barbara Thau contributed to this story.
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Published December 02, 2019