Tina Brown: On love and money

Takeaways

  • In the second part of UBS's exclusive interview with Tina Brown, the renowned editor and founder of Women in the World spoke about balancing financial decisions with her husband.
  • UBS research finds that 56% of women still willingly leave investing and long-term financial decisions to their spouse or partner.*
  • "We’d rather talk about anything than what you’re paid, how much you understand your finances, or where we are with our investments," Brown says. "This has to change."

In the second part of our exclusive interview with Tina Brown, we spoke with the renowned editor and founder of Women in the World about the launch of our Women’s Segment research, her husband, family and what money means for women.

UBS:

In our Women's Segment research, we touch on the fact that, overall, women live longer than men. U.S. Census data from 2017, provided by the nonprofit organization WISER, shows that 80%* of women end up alone, while men usually die while married, or in a partnership.

A year ago when we first spoke, we talked about your husband, Harry, [editor Harold Evans], and the fact that he is 25 years older than you. If we can talk about that a little bit, it could be helpful for clients, or just women in general …

Tina Brown:

Oh, I see it. I know a lot of women who have depended on their husbands to do it all, and then find themselves at sea about their own finances. I have to admit that my own life has played out that way too, but I certainly try to be engaged enough to know what is happening, certainly more and more now.

It’s a traditional division, unfortunately, that needs to be rectified. Women have to get in control of their finances, or they’re left in a position of ignorance and sometimes very bad investments. There are some women I know who thought they were much better off than they turned out to be. That’s scary.

I know a lot of women who have depended on their husbands to do it all, and then find themselves at sea about their own finances.

UBS:

We have found that 56% of women still willingly leave investing and long-term financial decisions to their spouse/partner.** But in the aftermath of a divorce or being widowed, we found that 98% of women we interviewed said they’d advise women currently married to be more involved.***

Tina Brown:

Are you finding that men prefer to be in control of the finances, or that women are accepting it as the norm, or both?

UBS:

The thing is that in our research we found that most women and men do not view this complacency as a problem. In our research, we examined why most women still choose to minimize their participation in important financial decisions, and how the household division of labor often results in women being primarily responsible for caregiving, managing the housework and day to day finances, with men at the helm of the investing and long-term financial decisions.**

That said, more than half, or 59%, of divorcees and widows would have changed this dynamic during their marriage.*** This brings us to financial literacy, which is clearly important for a lot of women in order to avoid a lot of heartache down the line and to be able to understand what is happening.

Financial literacy is very important. It’s critical and I wish I had more of it, frankly. I’d like to have a better sense of it. There ought to be more financial literacy awareness for women and younger women. We should be teaching it more in school.

Tina Brown:

Financial literacy is very important. It’s critical and I wish I had more of it, frankly. I’d like to have a better sense of it. There ought to be more financial literacy awareness for women and younger women. We should be teaching it more in school, and have more programs available to women who feel lost when it comes to this. I’d like my daughter to be more financially literate, too, but she’s so artsy ...

UBS:

We have been working with financial advisors who have had clients who found themselves alone, and as you said, "at sea," financially. We wanted to know the "why" behind these women waiving their participation in their financial lives. Some of it has to do with traditional gender norms, some has to do with emulating how their parents may have handled their finances.

What we also found is that women overestimate how difficult it is to be involved with their finances, or understand their investments. Women also tend to be perfectionists and if they feel they can’t do it all the way, then they’d prefer not to do it at all.

Tina Brown:

I have a friend who just got divorced and when it happened, she found that she just didn’t have anything left. Her husband was just spending it all without her knowing it, and she was left with nothing, so it was a nightmare. Just crushing for her.

UBS:

Well, more women than they’d like to admit have gone through this to varying degrees with a great deal of unwarranted shame, or embarrassment associated with not knowing where you are financially.

Tina Brown:

It’s funny that finances are something people still don’t want to talk about. They’d much rather discuss sex than money.

UBS:

People will talk about sex, religion, where you are on the political spectrum. Nothing is off limits.

Tina Brown:

Exactly, nothing is off limits except what you’re paid, and how you’re doing [financially]. We’d rather talk about anything than what you’re paid, how much you understand your finances or where we are with our investments. This has to change.

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Disclosures