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About 90 per cent of women will become the sole financial decision maker in their families at one point in their lives—but research from TD finds many women lack confidence around managing their money.Getty Images

On most days, you can find Ingrid Macintosh, Vice President Wealth, Head of Sales Enablement, Marketing and Digital Strategy at TD Asset Management, leading a team of about 100 people who help make major decisions for TD Asset Management business. But when she’s not doing that, the 35-year financial services veteran turns her efforts at the office to another initiative that’s a little closer to home — serving as executive sponsor of the TD Wealth for Women program, where she helps women build financial literacy, capability and confidence.

Through TD Wealth for Women, Ms. Macintosh and her team have helped countless Canadian women navigate their finances, and build confidence with financial decision-making, whether they’re single or have a family.

Yet people who have heeded Ms. Macintosh’s advice over the years would be surprised to know that for a while, she, like many Canadian women, remained in the background when it came to making major financial decisions for her family. She remembers that at the time, she was advising large pension plans on their investments, but it was her husband, who is a geologist and mining executive, who took the lead on deciding how to invest their assets, manage the risk that comes with those investments and what to do with their children’s Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs).

Building financial confidence

This isn’t uncommon. Many Canadian women don’t feel empowered to take the lead in their family’s finances. As Macintosh explains, many women with young families tend to pivot their attention toward caring for the family and nurturing their careers, letting their partners take the lead on financial decisions.

“You tend to abdicate those other pieces away, saying, ‘I don’t want to take the reins, let’s let somebody else take the reins,’” she says. “[For] many women starting a family and focusing on their careers, those are the things that are of highest priority, and financial literacy and investing conversations, aren’t at the highest level.”

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Financial literacy is especially important for women, who on average retire with 30 per cent less money saved than men.Getty Images

It wasn’t until Macintosh herself had a few years of career experience in her rear view, that she started to think a lot more about things like how much to put away for retirement.

“I always say to women that your two best tools in terms of a strong financial future are time and diversification—both of which are free. And if we can get women to get themselves on that journey as soon as possible, time is one of the most powerful benefits,” she says.

Aside from the time factor, many women simply don’t have the financial confidence to get in the driver’s seat of their family’s money matters. According to a 2022 TD Wealth for Women report on women investors, fewer than 20 per cent of women manage their own finances and make decisions on their own. Data from the same report shows that 62 per cent of women who’ve never been responsible for making financial decisions typically believe another adult was more knowledgeable or making better decisions for them.

“Many of them just don’t feel confident about it at all,” she says. “And one of the things that occurs when women don’t have confidence, is it affects their desire and their ability to take an appropriate level of risk in their investment decision making, which again can impair their longer term financial outcome.”

A solid financial future for women

That’s why offering women help can encourage them to take a more active role in managing their money. According to a recent TD Wealth for Women study in 2022, 36 per cent of women who don’t currently make financial decisions for their households say learning about this topic would motivate them to become more involved in their finances. And according to Ms. Macintosh, regardless of desire, about 90 per cent of women will at one time become the sole financial decision maker in their families. “Whether it’s through divorce, or through widowhood, they will at some time be responsible for making those financial decisions,” she says. “And if they’re not prepared to do that, it’s going to impair their ability to make those decisions.”

Plus, Canadian women will on average retire with 30 per cent less than men according to the 2021 Mercer Retirement Readiness Barometer, so it’s not hard to see why Ms. Macintosh’s call for financial literacy and confidence feels so urgent.

She says the first step for women who want to be more comfortable taking control of their financial decisions, is actually taking the time out to engage with the initiatives and professionals who can help guide you. TD, for its part, has a unique site dedicated to Wealth for Women that is chock full of resources to help women start building up financial confidence and literacy.

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Research shows women want to be more involved in their finances, but it can be difficult to find advisors they connect with.Getty Images

“You’ve got to take the time to start building your financial literacy, and there’s lots of resources out there,” she says.

Solving this problem, Ms. Macintosh says, also involves building far better relationships between the financial services industry and the women they serve. According to the 2017 Investor Economics Household Balance Sheet Report, 87 per cent of women struggle to find an advisor with whom they can connect, and that men are twice as likely to be approached by an advisor than women are. To fix this, Macintosh says TD is working to help build out its program for Wealth advisors who are specialized in serving women clients.

“Women, we need to step up [and] start having conversations about money and building our financial literacy,” she says. “But at the same time, the financial services industry has to do more than just saying they want to serve women better. We actually have to put the tools, resources and training in place to understand what’s different about women investors and make sure that we are armed to serve them appropriately, so that both sides are taking part in the future success of women.”

Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with TD. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.