Women Financial Gurus: Diva Finance!

by Millie Kay G. on 2011-09-0910

The battle of the sexes is alive and well in many aspects of our lives, and the question of who belongs to the superior gender often comes up in many lively debates. I’ve actually tried to tackle gender differences in this blog before, and it’s been a touchy subject to some degree. When it comes to money, we’re accustomed to seeing and listening to many distinguished men who are experts in the world of business and finance. But in reality, there are many great female financial voices that have been making waves in the financial arena in recent years.

Over the years, a number of women have stepped forward as experts in the realm of money matters. Some of them have been around for decades, while others have become familiar to us more recently. Let’s go over some of these women financial gurus, many of whom are published authors.

8 Female Financial Gurus & Role Models In Personal Finance

1. Jean Chatzky. When I first saw her on TV, she upended the stereotype of a personal finance expert as being stuffy and avuncular as John Houseman in those old Smith Barney commercials. She explains topics like credit card debt and bank account management in an accessible way. Her latest book is Not Your Parents’ Money Book, which helps both parents and kids understand important financial issues. You can catch her on the Today Show.

2. Suze Orman. Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without her. She’s had her own show on CNBC for a decade, but many of us came to know her through her appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show. She’s also written ten books and has made popular PBS programs. Her column for O Magazine covers classic money issues like retirement and inheritances. Back in 2008, I was one of the million people who rushed to grab the free ebook version of her book Women and Money (thanks, Suze and Oprah!).

3. Carmen Wong Ulrich. She’s another familiar face from CNBC and other TV appearances. Her articles and columns have appeared in a wide spectrum of publications. Generation Debt was her first book. Her second book is the Real Cost of Living.

4. Gail Vaz-Oxlade. This Canadian finance guru is the host of Til Debt Do Us Part, a reality show aimed at helping couples. She’s written articles on topics like avoiding fraud and smart shopping. Also, she’s authored various books including Debt-Free Forever.

5. Jane Bryant Quinn. This pioneer of personal finance has recently revised her influential book, currently titled Making the Most of Your Money Now. As a writer and columnist for decades, she’s educated a wide readership on personal finance issues. Her columns in Good Housekeeping would always prove to be enlightening.

6. Candace Bahr and Ginita Wall are the founders of the Women’s Institute for Financial Education (WIFE.org). It’s a non-profit organization aimed at educating women about financial issues. Some of the topics they cover are divorce and widowhood as well as taxes and retirement.

7. Liz Pulliam Weston. She’s one of my favorite financial writers because she can clearly explain how to combat any money problem. She has an MSN Money column and her Money Talk column is available in newspapers around the nation. The 10 Commandments of Money is her most recent book.

8. Beardstown Ladies. This all-female investment club based in Illinois shot to fame in the 1990s thanks to its claim of earning returns of more than 20%. I remember their bestselling books going like crazy back in the day. However, closer analysis of their claims revealed some serious accounting errors. According to the Wall Street Journal, the publisher took their books out of print — but the club was still active at the time of this writing. They’re a controversial group due to the unfortunate credibility downgrading they received when their investment returns were scrutinized. But what not everyone realizes is that while they failed to live up to the hype that brought their name to the fore, they’ve had more modest success during some periods — apparently they “beat the Dow” from 1983 through 1997 with an average yearly return of 15.3%. Where are they now? Here’s an update on the group.

Financial Books & Resources For Women By Women

Besides these well known names, I want to mention a few other resources. You might already know about the Smart Cookies from their TV appearances. This group of women formed a money group of their own to tackle different financial issues. They share their expertise on topics such as debt, real estate and investing. One of their books is the cleverly titled Guide to Making More Dough. The Daily Tips & Articles section of their site features subjects like Groupon, wardrobe tips and savings for brides.

LearnVest.com is another great resource for women. Members can sign up for a customized plan that helps them become better managers of their own money. Careers and the psychology of money are several of the issues covered here.

Since I remember a past when Jane Bryant Quinn seemed like the only woman talking about personal finance, I appreciate the diversity we have now. Women financial gurus like Jean Chatzky and Suze Orman have a broad range of topics to share with all of us. Of course, my list isn’t comprehensive, so I’m hoping you can provide some more profiles, especially if I missed your favorite!

Personal finance covers a wide array of topics. What I find interesting is that the focus for women seem to be on saving, family finance or home money management, whereas hardcore or high finance tends to still remain the “territory” of men, who dominate many a “top billionares” list or a “highest paid CEOs” list in financial periodicals. The investment arena still reveres the likes of Warren Buffet and even George Soros, who have become legends in their respective fields. It’s one thing to be an expert in your own right, but another to be recognized this way as a household name bandied around in mainstream media. I’m certainly eager to hear more from female financial experts.

More On Gender Differences & Money

Check out these articles we’ve covered on the subject of money and gender:

Copyright © 2011 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Briana @ 20 & Engaged September 9, 2011 at 8:55 pm

I would love to be the next one! I want to be similar to Gail and work with couples and families when it comes to finance. Family finance as opposed to personal finance. Great ladies & great inspiration!

Silicon Valley Blogger September 9, 2011 at 11:16 pm

That would be awesome. I wish you all the luck to getting to that point. 🙂 We need more inspiring women profiles who have found success in the financial world. Here we are, doing our part with keeping the dialogue on financial matters alive on the web. By the way, I’ll be seeing you in the financial conference in a few weeks! 🙂

krantcents September 10, 2011 at 9:54 am

I often see Diane Swonk, Chief Economist for Mesirow Financial being interviewed and quoted on various financial shows. When more women are encouraged to go into the profession, there will be more people in those positions.

Money Reasons September 10, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I read two of Bearstown Ladies books (A Stitch in Time is the other one) and while they had some controversy around their numbers, the book’s principles are solid. Perfect examples of how to run a fun and profitable investing club!

I so wanted to start an investing club once I read their book, but unfortunately compliance rules at my employer prevented me for following that path.

Silicon Valley Blogger September 10, 2011 at 2:51 pm

I’ve actually interviewed a few financial advisors and planners before, to see if I wanted to work with a professional on a few matters. The experience was enlightening — one person I talked with was quite a blowhard, talking on and on about his credentials as someone who used to work on the commodities trading floor and saying how he was a top commodities trader in another life. The problem was, he kept pushing products that I felt uncomfortable about, and even with my level of understanding of these products, he would insist on “talking down” to me.

Another person I interviewed was a lady from a highly-regarded full service brokerage house. My experience was totally different — she was enlightening, understanding and patient. And I appreciated her style of communicating. Surely, many men are just as competent and easy to work with as this lady, but I have to admit that many female advisors I know really excel in the customer service arena. They know how to work with clients. And I can imagine that women PF experts probably make their mark by connecting to an audience. Most men gurus will convince you of their abilities via their actions and bravado. Stylistically, there are differences, but as the saying goes “there’s a guru for everyone” (ok I made that up), so those differences are a good thing.

Silicon Valley Blogger September 10, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Hopefully you’ll have an opportunity to start a club sometime. I am not in one, but if I were to start a club of some sort, it would be an investment club since it’s one great way to socialize and share not just a “hobby” but knowledge in an area that can make a difference in our lives.

Soullfire September 17, 2011 at 12:46 pm

From the studies I’ve heard about, then general consensus is active women investors and advisors/planners perform better than men as a group over time since women often avoid taking on too much risk as men are prone to do.

As you have observed, many men too often put their egos ahead of their better judgement.

Heidi @ Pocketchangebook September 18, 2011 at 10:09 am

Thanks for this great post! I believe it is so important to have good financial role models available from both genders. There are still so many young women who are growing up in families where they are not taught the basic principles of personal finance, because the male acts as the “head of household” and handles all of the finances. Thankfully, there are a growing number of families where both parents split the financial duties!

Ginger @ Girls Just Wanna Have Funds November 23, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Though I don’t really put much stock in “personal finance experts”, my goal is to make personal finance, just that, “personal”. I think the issue with some of the experts is that none of the advice is personal. Their approach is too general because they are catering to the masses which means they lack true accessibility to people that need personalized advice.

And Digerati, I’m sorta miffed I didn’t make this list! Hmph! *tears* Where have I been? haha

Silicon Valley Blogger November 23, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Your point is quite interesting! I agree with you that having the word “personal” in “personal finance” should indicate that financial solutions aren’t exactly one size fits all. This is because what may work for you or me may not necessarily apply to someone else, given so many factors that can affect our financial set up. Some of those factors include one’s personality, beliefs, values and overall profile. So thanks for bringing up this great point!

Regarding the list — I have this other one I maintain (of women bloggers) but I intend to build a more comprehensive one at some point!

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