This consultant started a non-profit financial institution to empower women

Stacy Francis

Source: Stacy Francis

Stacy Francis never planned to become a financial advisor, especially one for women going through a divorce. But frank talk with her grandmother changed the course of her career.

Her grandmother, Mira, was a victim of spousal abuse and, before her death, admitted to staying in her marriage because she felt “financially trapped”.

Francis, founder of savvy ladiesa non-profit organization that provides free financial advice and education to women, along with its advisory firm Francis Finance in New York.

“It’s really my love letter to my grandmother,” she said.

More Skilled Investor:

Here are more stories dealing with divorce, widowhood, income equality and other issues related to women’s investment habits and retirement needs.

Francis Certified Financial Planner and CNBC Member Advisory BoardSavvy Ladies started in 2003 with workshops in her New York apartment.

Today, the nonprofit offers free virtual advice nationwide, regardless of income, through a Financial Hotline Connects women with a free advisor.

While there are organizations Dedicated to women in povertyFrancis sees limited options for people with moderate incomes or assets, such as women starting their first job, divorcing or seeking counseling as a single mother.

“There is a huge segment of women in desperate need of this financial advice,” she said.

Jodi Herbst, executive director of the organization, said the Savvy Ladies had connected more than 600 women with advisors in 2022, with 174 connected in April alone.

Nearly half report making less than $74,000 a year, according to Herbst, with 60% saying they are the only member of their household.

There is a core group of callers in their forties or older who understand the importance of building wealth, Herbst said. “They are moving from debt management and divorce to ultimately asking ‘How do I invest?'” she said. “

She said the Savvy Ladies also co-host events, such as financial literacy workshops, with other nonprofit organizations.

Investing is more important for women

Investing for women isn’t fun, it’s a must.

Stacy Francis

Founder of Savvy Ladies

She said the women’s assets should last until age 95, which may require higher returns if they start with less. But the fluctuations often lead to more anxiety in less experienced women.

Francis urges women to “rely on investing” to build confidence, whether it’s working with a counselor or organizations like the Savvy Ladies, taking courses or reading books.

“Investing for women is not fun, it’s a must,” she said. “The risks to women are higher.”

The jump to entrepreneurship

Knowing the challenges of starting a business from scratch, Francis said the Savvy Ladies also mentored aspiring women entrepreneurs who left corporate America to launch a business and current owners who were struggling to make ends meet.

She said budding entrepreneurs need to prepare financially, starting with two separate emergency funds — personal savings and a work cushion, which she tends to overlook.

When leaving a steady paycheck, Frances said, women need a way to replace their earnings, such as saving six to 12 months of living expenses, creating a stream of investment income, withdrawing a wallet, or taking Social Security payments sooner.

The most important thing is to make sure that what you do is sustainable, and that you are not left behind financially.

Stacy Francis

Founder of Savvy Ladies

“The most important thing is to make sure that what you do is sustainable,” Francis said. “And you are not financially behind.”

Frances suggests setting a schedule for earning a set income, which has worked for her. For example, it might allow wallet withdrawals for “x” years before those funds are replenished, she said.

Other women may start a business besides their work for the company. “They will build this business,” she said, explaining how it could bridge the employee-to-owner earnings gap.