Helping women build financial confidence

Helping women build financial confidence

Two alumnae in the financial services field offer tips, know-how, and networking perspective regarding money matters

Marcia Mantell '83

Marcia Mantell ’83

Marcia Mantell ’83, a retirement consultant and Sherry Finkel Murphy ’81*, an associate wealth management advisor, are committed to helping their clients—especially women—become the heroes of their financial lives.

The two met in September at the first virtual New England Women’s Network breakfast, a group that Mantell co-chairs. Launched this fall, the new volunteer-led Women’s Network provides dynamic programming like this to engage alumnae and help members connect and support one another. The network’s mission is to harness and celebrate the rich contributions of women around the globe who are part of the University of Rochester family.

“The new Women’s Network is a catalyst for making powerful, important connections—like the one that Sherry and I made with each other at this event,” says Mantell. “We hit it off right away and realized we had a lot in common, including our passion for supporting women and their financial success.”

Sherry Finkel Murphy '81

Sherry Finkel Murphy ’81

“Neither of us runs into many women in the financial services business so when we do, we are drawn to each other,” says Finkel Murphy. “We were excited to see how we could help each other, serve our clients, and re-engage with the University and fellow alumnae.”

A particular idea they bonded over was the notion of women maintaining an extra savings bucket used for funding ‘second acts’ and providing strength in financial negotiations with employers.

‘More of a calling than a job’

Mantell runs Mantell Retirement Consulting, a Boston area business she started in 2005 after a long career in corporate retirement product marketing. She advises individuals and businesses, runs workshops and seminars, and writes books and a blog to help people better understand smart retirement planning.

Finkel Murphy works for The Atrium Financial Group with Northwestern Mutual, located in the Albany/Glens Falls area in N.Y. and leads the group’s focus in women’s financial planning. In 2019, after a decades-long career in technology sales and management, Finkel Murphy created her own second act. “It’s more of a calling then a job,” she says.

Working with women at all stages of their lives and careers is a specialty area for both women. “We share a commitment to helping all our clients, especially women, feel secure about money and build their wealth so that they can have the type of future and retirement they want,” says Mantell.

Adds Finkel Murphy, “We want our clients to sleep well every night and have confidence in their financial futures.”

On the dollar

Mantell and Finkel Murphy note that there is a significant wage gap in the U.S. for women. A gender pay gap analysis conducted by PayScale notes that women make 81 cents on every dollar a man earns. The statistics are even worse for underrepresented women. According to the National Women’s Law Center, Black women earn 63 cents per dollar and Latinas earn 55 cents.

The PayScale analysis also shows that when women get a new job, they receive, on average, an offer of seven percent less than what someone currently working in that position makes—what PayScale refers to as a “pay penalty.” An article in Fortune reports similar findings and articulates that the pay gap has worsened during the pandemic. A recent NPR story echoes this, noting that multiple demands on their time are causing women to abandon the workforce—in droves.

“COVID-19 is causing women to either leave the workforce or reduce their hours—and their income—significantly,” adds Mantell. “Women are the ones taking care of children and parents, overseeing virtual school attendance and homework, and doing much of what it takes to run a household. There are long-term financial consequences to this.”

A recent McKinsey & Company report underscores this. It says that, globally, women are 1.8 times more likely than men to lose their jobs because of the pandemic and its economic effects. The report goes on to say that a notable reason for the drop in employment is because of their increased need to focus on providing unpaid childcare and eldercare during this time.

“All of this has a cumulative effect—and it’s not good,” adds Finkel Murphy. “If you make less money or work fewer years when raising children, you contribute less to Social Security and you have less to add to retirement savings. And, if your employer matches retirement contributions, there will be less to match. This is why it is so important for women to take an active role in their finances and planning for their futures. Simply put, the wage gap and societal effects lead to a wealth gap for women that they need to address.”

Often, women take a back seat to financial planning, say both Mantell and Finkel Murphy. “Many of us have never been taught finance, savings, and retirement planning basics—instead, we abdicate responsibility to others in our lives,” says Mantell. “To protect ourselves, it’s important we become better informed, know where our money is, and share responsibility for our financial decisions with our partners.”

Marcia Mantell '83
Marcia Mantell '83
Sherry Finkel Murphy '81
Sherry Finkel Murphy '81

Marcia Mantell ’83, a retirement consultant and Sherry Finkel Murphy ’81*, an associate wealth management advisor, are committed to helping their clients—especially women—become the heroes of their financial lives.

The two met in September at the first virtual New England Women’s Network breakfast, a group that Mantell co-chairs. Launched this fall, the new volunteer-led Women’s Network provides dynamic programming like this to engage alumnae and help members connect and support one another. The network’s mission is to harness and celebrate the rich contributions of women around the globe who are part of the University of Rochester family.

“The new Women’s Network is a catalyst for making powerful, important connections—like the one that Sherry and I made with each other at this event,” says Mantell. “We hit it off right away and realized we had a lot in common, including our passion for supporting women and their financial success.”

“Neither of us runs into many women in the financial services business so when we do, we are drawn to each other,” says Finkel Murphy. “We were excited to see how we could help each other, serve our clients, and re-engage with the University and fellow alumnae.”

A particular idea they bonded over was the notion of women maintaining an extra savings bucket used for funding ‘second acts’ and providing strength in financial negotiations with employers.

‘More of a calling than a job’

Mantell runs Mantell Retirement Consulting, a Boston area business she started in 2005 after a long career in corporate retirement product marketing. She advises individuals and businesses, runs workshops and seminars, and writes books and a blog to help people better understand smart retirement planning.

Finkel Murphy works for The Atrium Financial Group with Northwestern Mutual, located in the Albany/Glens Falls area in N.Y. and leads the group’s focus in women’s financial planning. In 2019, after a decades-long career in technology sales and management, Finkel Murphy created her own second act. “It’s more of a calling then a job,” she says.

Working with women at all stages of their lives and careers is a specialty area for both women. “We share a commitment to helping all our clients, especially women, feel secure about money and build their wealth so that they can have the type of future and retirement they want,” says Mantell.

Adds Finkel Murphy, “We want our clients to sleep well every night and have confidence in their financial futures.”

On the dollar

Mantell and Finkel Murphy note that there is a significant wage gap in the U.S. for women. A gender pay gap analysis conducted by PayScale notes that women make 81 cents on every dollar a man earns. The statistics are even worse for underrepresented women. According to the National Women’s Law Center, Black women earn 63 cents per dollar and Latinas earn 55 cents.

The PayScale analysis also shows that when women get a new job, they receive, on average, an offer of seven percent less than what someone currently working in that position makes—what PayScale refers to as a “pay penalty.” An article in Fortune reports similar findings and articulates that the pay gap has worsened during the pandemic. A recent NPR story echoes this, noting that multiple demands on their time are causing women to abandon the workforce—in droves.

“COVID-19 is causing women to either leave the workforce or reduce their hours—and their income—significantly,” adds Mantell. “Women are the ones taking care of children and parents, overseeing virtual school attendance and homework, and doing much of what it takes to run a household. There are long-term financial consequences to this.”

A recent McKinsey & Company report underscores this. It says that, globally, women are 1.8 times more likely than men to lose their jobs because of the pandemic and its economic effects. The report goes on to say that a notable reason for the drop in employment is because of their increased need to focus on providing unpaid childcare and eldercare during this time.

“All of this has a cumulative effect—and it’s not good,” adds Finkel Murphy. “If you make less money or work fewer years when raising children, you contribute less to Social Security and you have less to add to retirement savings. And, if your employer matches retirement contributions, there will be less to match. This is why it is so important for women to take an active role in their finances and planning for their futures. Simply put, the wage gap and societal effects lead to a wealth gap for women that they need to address.”

Often, women take a back seat to financial planning, say both Mantell and Finkel Murphy. “Many of us have never been taught finance, savings, and retirement planning basics—instead, we abdicate responsibility to others in our lives,” says Mantell. “To protect ourselves, it’s important we become better informed, know where our money is, and share responsibility for our financial decisions with our partners.”

Nine tips for a healthy financial future

Here, Mantell and Finkel Murphy offer this advice to help women plan for a healthy financial future.

    1. Set up an emergency fund. Have at least three months of living expenses saved up. If something happens, you do not want to dip into your capital—a.k.a. retirement savings—to pay the mortgage, buy groceries, or get the car fixed.
    2. Set up a “freedom” fund, too. This is a separate bucket just for you—a rainy day fund. This can help you shift careers, go back to school, start a business. Plan now for changes you may want—or need—down the road.
    3. Spend intentionally. This means plan a budget and stick to it. Watch the “hidden” expenses that add up—fast. Think: auto renewals (remember that music app or email greeting card service you signed up for months ago?), credit card interest fees, trips to Starbucks.
    4. Gain tax intelligence. Don’t think only about what you make—instead, watch what you keep and the tax implications of where you put your money.
    5. Don’t touch. Meaning: don’t ever withdraw your retirement savings early—it’s not worth it—the penalties and financial consequences are too great. Keep the money there, let it ride out economic ups and downs, and use it only in retirement.
    6. Start saving early. For recent grads, start saving as soon as you can—you won’t miss what you don’t see and the earlier you start investing, the more the principle will grow down-the-road. You’ll thank us later.
    7. Know thyself. Are you a do-it-yourself person? Do you want to be the one managing your accounts and investments? If so, tap into the knowledge of good teachers and experts who can guide the way for you. Or, are you someone who prefers an expert to manage the details and maximize your benefits? If so, a financial planner is the way to go.
    8. Do the paperwork. Make sure you have a will, a health care proxy statement, and the power of attorney spelled out for your loved ones. Talk to them about doing the same. Think about pre-marriage agreements, too. Protect yourself and make finances easy to access and understand if anything happens to you.
    9. Invest in your health. If you don’t, you will never reap the benefits of good financial planning. Plan now so that in the future you can spend your money on what you love. The real gift of financial planning is to yourself—health is wealth.

Join Us

For more financial insights, join Mantell and Finkel Murphy at the virtual event, “Financial Freedom,” 4-5 p.m. ET, Wednesday, December 9, 2020. This event is co-hosted by the Metro New York and New England Women’s Networks.

Connect with us

Looking for ways to connect with University of Rochester alumnae? Consider joining the University’s Women’s Network group on The Meliora Collective, an exclusive, online platform designed for University of Rochester alumni, students, parents, and friends who want to make meaningful connections for personal and professional exploration and growth. You can also volunteer, join a regional network, or attend an event near you. Learn more here.

*Sherry Finkel Murphy ’81 is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) professional and is certified as a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®), and a Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP®). Northwestern Mutual (NM) is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, WI, and its subsidiaries. Sherry Finkel Murphy is an insurance agent of NM.

— Kristine Thompson, November 2020