By Lauren Sable Freiman | Photo by Gery Petrof
Because women have often taken time off from work to care for children, parents or both, because they are often still earning less than men for the same work, and because women are expected to outlive men by five to seven years, their typically smaller retirement savings needs to stretch farther. And with Social Security payouts maxing out around $32,000 per year, the need for retirement planning and savings becomes even more evident.
“Women have a double whammy,” Carpenter says. “Our retirement savings is typically less and our life expectancy is typically more. We may inherit leftover savings, but there are no guarantees.”
According to Carpenter, the reality of the situation is that women need to take control of their financial lives today. Knowledge is power, and those who don’t know what they have can’t get a handle on how long retirement funds may last or what they might be able to afford in retirement.
“If we’re not already managing our own money, at some point we will likely be forced to be responsible for our own money,” she says. “I’ve seen it time and time again where women will defer to the men in their lives to take care of financial issues, and that is not a smart way to proceed with something so important.”
Her 25 years in the industry left Carpenter with the desire to try a new model of financial advising — one that caters specifically to women by speaking to them in terms they understand and to which they can relate. So, five years ago she created Bell Tower and set out to help women plan for, invest in, and save for retirement by speaking to them about standard topics, such as performance and other important issues.
“As women, we need to think about whether we have enough to live out the rest of our lives,” Carpenter says. “What do we want to do with our lives? “Do we want to travel? Do we have enough for healthcare needs down the road? Do we have enough to give to a charity, to help our children with their college tuition, to help them when they’re adults? We have to look at the money we have versus what we want to do with our lives. They are pretty integrated concepts.”
While Carpenter’s expertise is on managing investments for clients, she is also able to help clients coordinate their overall financial pictures. Tax planning, estate planning, retirement planning, insurance planning, and investments all fall into Carpenter’s wheelhouse.
“I help clients make sure they have what they need and can make referrals,” Carpenter says. “I make sure they have wills, trusts, and a healthcare power of attorney, and, if not, I can refer them to an estate-planning attorney who can help them get those in place.”
Carpenter also has a certification in financial planning that surrounds divorces and is able to help clients navigate the various and specific rules relating to the financial aspects of divorce.
“I can focus on the long-term implications of dividing assets in various ways,” Carpenter says. “If you keep the house, there are expenses associated with keeping the house. If you take the non-retirement account versus the retirement account, there are tax consequences later on that could impact the final value. For a complicated divorce, it may make sense to use a certified divorce financial analyst.”
While Carpenter does count males among her clients, the educational approach she takes with her clients seems to speak to women. During her time in the industry, she has watched men speak to men in terms they are comfortable with and understand. Now, she is enjoying the opportunity to speak to women using terms they understand.
“This is a male dominated profession, and I just wanted to do it a little differently,” Carpenter says. “I think there are a lot of women who want a warmer, more one-on-one, more educational experience.”
For more information: belltowerllc.com
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