Six Steps to Becoming More Financially Aware

Over the past few decades, women have made huge economic strides, amassing wealth and achieving more leadership positions. They now control over a third of household assets, valued at over $10 trillion as of 2022.[1] Having a more equitable slice of the pie doesn’t just improve women’s personal wellbeing; it also gives them tremendous leverage to push for private and public policies that level the playing field.

However, there’s still a long way to go. Women still lag behind men in both hard indicators (like income and retirement savings) and soft ones (like financial literacy and confidence). According to a 2022 survey by Bank of America, only 48% of women felt confident about their finances, and just 28% felt empowered to take action on them. This even impacts high-net-worth women, 39% of whom had never worked with a wealth advisor.[2]

Soft indicators like financial confidence might seem intangible and abstract, but they have a huge impact on women’s economic well-being. Why? Because women who feel empowered and confident can seize opportunities to improve their wealth.

The good news? It’s very possible to build financial confidence with the right help. Understanding the ins and outs of every one of your assets, policies, and plans is the crucial first step toward taking control of your finances. Here are six ways you can start.

1. Schedule One-on-One Meetings with Your Wealth Advisor

For ultra-high-net-worth women, managing wealth can literally be a full-time job. That’s why most enlist the help of wealth advisors, along with the appropriate attorneys and insurance brokers. But even with the best help in the world, there’s no substitute for a deep understanding of your assets.

Your wealth advisor at your family office or private wealth management firm will be happy to sit down one-on-one and walk you through all the details of your accounts and assets, putting the information you need at your fingertips. Part of being a wealth advisor is to consider your wants, needs, and situation and help you build a set of attainable financial goals to pursue. A good lawyer or insurance broker will be happy to do the same for related legal matters and insurance policies; your wealth advisor can provide referrals to professionals in these areas should you need them.

A meeting with your family members or spouse has its place, but a one-on-one meeting is the best way to get frank answers about the things you want to know—no matter how seemingly small or fundamental they may be. A one-on-one meeting allows you to ask questions that might feel too simple, too time-consuming, or too awkward to ask with loved ones present. Whether you are a female business owner with your own accounts, in a relationship, or a multigenerational family, taking the time to meet with your advisor and dive into your portfolio to better understand your larger financial picture, at your own pace, is an essential first step.

2. Understand Your Budget

In addition to knowing where your assets are located and what they entail, having a solid grasp on your budget, that is your spending and cash flow combined, can inform personal or professional planning and goals (more on that later). For example, is now the right time to invest in your next home renovation project or does it make sense to hold off? Again, your wealth advisor can walk you through your budget on a monthly basis and provide the financial context and advisory on timing for your plans.

3. Own Your Seat at the Table

Once you have a grasp of your assets and budget, actively stepping into your or, if and where appropriate, your family’s decision-making process, is a natural next step. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you attend monthly or quarterly meetings. If you’re attending with other members of your family or a spouse, discussing your finances as a team offers you the opportunity to advocate for yourself and address issues in real-time.

Here are a few ideas for how you can actively participate in the discussion:

  1. Prepare in advance by writing down your financial goals and listing questions you plan to ask. If you’re not sure what to ask, a quick Google search will deliver a breadth of ideas that can help guide you or provide a starting point for the conversation you wish to have. Review your list several times if you need to build confidence that you can fit it into the discussion.
  2. Send your list of goals and questions to your wealth advisor a day or two before the meeting so they have time to put them on the agenda.
  3. At the start of the meeting, it’s entirely appropriate to state your wants, needs, and goals firmly and clearly. Even if it’s a change in agenda, a good wealth advisor will be able to flex and meet you where you need to be.
  4. Take detailed notes, especially about your goals and questions.
  5. As mentioned, ask your questions throughout the meeting as needed. Don’t be afraid to follow up if something isn’t clear.

4. Families and Money: Prepare for Uncomfortable Conversations

Family finances can be an uncomfortable topic for most people. In fact, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, financial disagreements are one of the most common causes of divorce and separation.[3] This can be particularly true in high-net-worth families, where complex asset structures and the marriage clauses that govern them can make difficult financial discussions long and frequent.

End-of-life planning is also a difficult topic. However, outlining where your money will inevitably go when you pass on through estate planning—and knowing that you’re comfortable with those plans—is an element that can be controlled in what can otherwise feel frightening or unfamiliar.

It’s never too early to ask yourself what you want to leave behind. Here are some important questions to consider:

  • What’s the best way to care for your family’s current and future generations?
  • What causes do you care about?
  • What mark do you want to leave?
  • How do you want to be remembered?

These questions might seem long-term, but answering them has real, immediate benefits. That’s because knowing the answers will help you focus on goals that matter to you.

However uncomfortable it might be to bring up, you can’t change something if you don’t talk about it. Talk to your wealth advisor to get some tips to help you negotiate these thorny conversations.

5. Know Where Your Accounts Are and How to Access Important Information

Your accounts and insurance plans are designed to protect you in the event of an emergency, but they only work if you can access them.

Having a centralized and safe location where you (or your family, children, partner, or spouse) can access information if needed is important. Problem-solving during a crisis is far more manageable when you and your loved ones have important information at the ready.

For everything you own, you’ll want to know:

  1. What it is.
  2. Where it is.
  3. How it works.
  4. How to access it.
  5. Who else can access it.
  6. Who to contact about it.

In particular, you’ll want to prepare for situations that make it harder to access the tools you’ve set up to protect yourself and your family. Any likely scenario that makes it hard to reach your accountant, lawyer, insurance broker, or any of your assets, is worth preparing for. A few things you might consider including are:

  • Bank accounts
  • Insurance policies
  • Trust and estate documents
  • Investment accounts
  • Mortgages
  • Retirement accounts
  • Passwords and logins to all the above
  • Contact information for accountants, attorneys, and other professionals

6. Define Your Goals. Plan Your Legacy.

Becoming more financially aware doesn’t—and shouldn’t—have to feel like a chore. One of the most rewarding and enjoyable out-shots of becoming more involved in your financial life is defining your own goals. Whether it be meaningful giving and charitable contributions, investing in passion assets like art or real estate, education-related, starting a business or foundation, or empowering or educating any children about the wealth they’ll eventually inherit, finding out what’s important to you and being empowered to proactively work toward that objective is something that inherently feels good.

Not sure what goals would be a good fit or how to go about working toward them? Your advisor can help you both define and structure your goals.

Get Ready to Take Charge

While it certainly benefits your pocketbook, taking charge of your finances isn’t ultimately about the money. When you control your finances, you’re able to protect yourself and your loved ones, decide on goals and priorities that really matter to you, and define your future.

On top of that, it’s not just about you. When high-net-worth women make financial moves, the world moves with them. By strategically investing your resources and using your power as a shareholder to push for equitable practices, you can make a real difference for women in the world and the workplace.

Knowledge is power. It’s time to empower yourself, take charge of your assets, and use them to change the world for the better.

Ready to get started? We’d be happy to sit down with you and help you shape your plans for the future. Contact Geller today.

[1] Elizabeth Dennis, “Women, Wealth and Investing—A Story of Evolution,” Morgan Stanley, June 28, 2022,

[2] “Bank of America Study Finds 94% of Women Believe They’ll be Personally Responsible for Their Finances at Some Point in Their Lives,” Bank of America, June 22, 2022,–of-women-believe-they-ll-be-pers.html.

[3] “Making Marriage Last,” American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, accessed March 1, 2024,