The charge was clear to this year’s attendees of the Alabama Women’s Commission’s sixth annual IMPACT event in Montgomery: Take something they learned at the Tuesday event back to their communities and groups they work or have influence with, and start talking about money matters with women.
“Women should understand the inflows and outflows of money in their life and households. Start today,” said Sommer Morris, financial adviser with The McInnes Morris Group, Morgan Stanley. “Invest in yourself.”
Morris was part of an all-female panel that focused on financial literacy for Alabama women. Stephanie Yates, director of the Regions Institute for Financial Education at the UAB Collat School of Business, urged women to be better planners.
“Thirty-four percent of women have an emergency fund. Fifty-three percent of men have an emergency fund,” she said. “On average, women make $400,000 less in a lifetime than men.”
Women must take advantage of the resources available to them, said Jamie Isom, a former member of the Alabama House of Representatives.
“Every bank in every town has financial education programs,” said Isom, a Realtor with LLB&B Real Estate.
Barrie Stokes, senior vice president and senior counsel for Protective Life Corp., spoke of the impact that life changes such as having children, losing a spouse or caring for an aging parent have on women. She said women should weigh carefully when to stop working.
“If you have a choice, before you make the decision to quit work, look at the hit leaving the workforce takes to your retirement,” Stokes said. “If you can, hang in there. Find something you enjoy, but don’t quit altogether.”
Keynote speaker Gov. Kay Ivey talked of the career possibilities available to women, including serving in public office like she does. Ivey is Alabama’s second female governor. Lurleen Wallace became Alabama’s first female governor in January 1967. The wife of George Wallace, who was constitutionally barred from seeking another term as governor, she served until her death from cancer in May 1968.
Ivey said young women should be encouraged to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.
Regardless of a what a woman chooses to do, having an impact is not complicated, Ivey told the group.
“To be a woman of impact, or a person of impact, is really simple,” she said. “It just requires the right motivation. Honor God and serve people.”