Not too easily it seems.
Yesterday, following an introduction from working Mum , Holly Mckay, I spent some time with people from Mumsnet and Gransnet.
I learned a lot- not to call grans senior or silver and about the peculiarities of discourse on Mumsnet’s website. One of the most used acronyms on the site is AIBU – “am I being unreasonable” which is not a phrase that I have ever used. YABU and YANBU are the correct responses and some of this is passing from Mumsnet into everyday parlance. If I was compiling the urban dictionary, I’d be beating a path to Kentish Town in London – where Mumsnet is based.
What I hadn’t appreciated is the scale of what Mumsnet calls “organic posting” on financial matters on its site, with Mums and Grans finding ways to talk about financial matters that doesn’t require conversation to be framed to suit the host.
And given the choice , most Mums are not talking about retirement. Having trawled the money threads of Mumsnet, I found only one on retirement saving. You can read it here.
Gransnet, as you’d expect, is quite different . The Gransnet Legal and Money page is dominated by pensions.
It would be easy for me to play the pensions expert here and poke fun at Mums for being short-sighted and Grans for engaging too little- too late.
No doubt that’s why the army of pension marketeers have stayed clear of Mumsnet and focussed on getting messages out to husbands. The accepted wisdom at Mumsnet is that woman look after the finances, but this isn’t how New Model Adviser see things.
Looking through financial advice client case studies today. Amazing how many begin ‘a client’s husband had recently died, he’d looked after all the finances and they didn’t know what to do/it was a mess…’
— Will Robins (@Will_Robins) November 10, 2019
This latter-day vision of the IFA as the knight in shining armour coming to a grandam in distress is in sharp contrast to the thinking of Jo Cumbo, who might be considered at the progressive end of the gender spectrum.
I am looking for views on the proposition that females – who have lower pension savings than men – should be taking more investment risk with their pensions.
Should workplace pension default funds be divided along gender lines?
Respond via Twitter or firstname.lastname@example.org
— Josephine Cumbo (@JosephineCumbo) November 12, 2019
While I find the long thread that’s developing behind Jo’s question interesting, it is an academic discussion, far removed from the day to day issues that Mum’s are struggling with.
This is perhaps why pensions and Mums are far apart. Jo is trying to find a way to make pension investment relevant for women and is hitting a barrage of opposition from people who want women to be treated the same as women.
What I have learned from recent visits to Mumsnet is that women see pensions quite differently from the way I and other men do.
A man in a woman’s world.
One of the questions I was asking yesterday was what place there might be for a man giving guidance to Mums and Grans on these sites.
I was surprised to hear constructive advice on how to behave as an influencer. Mumsnet and Gransnet depend on influencers a lot.
There is a big difference between being an influencer and an expert. The kind of people I admire as influencers tend to be women – I think of Ros Altmann, Michelle Cracknell, Margaret de Valois and Margaret Snowden. They go about their work in a much more subtle way than I do, but men like me, can learn from them. They are most effective.
I seem to remember influencers used to be described as having “soft skills”, something that when in an actuarial practice, I was laughed at for aspiring to. Now I suspect that developing soft skills or promoting those who have them, is going to become a lot more important.
Women are more in the workplace, more in workplace savings and they’re more in retirement. Women are just more important than men – not least because they start the retirement marathon not in front of , but behind their male counterparts.
The old view of women relying on their husbands for financial support and financial advisers for support when their husbands depart before they do, is just that – “an old view”.
It may stick around in our society for decades, but the pace of change is likely to accelerate because of the demographics of work and later life.
I am a man, who wants to be influential in a woman’s world. I am struggling and need help.
How does a working mum talk about pensions?
I hope to work with Mumsnet on this question and I really don’t have any fixed views at this point.
I don’t think it’s a good thing that mums are not talking about their retirement on Mumsnet as I passionately believe in women being financially sufficient in later life. If retirement finances are not being discussed by mums but form a key part of the Gransnet site, this suggests that the financial services industry is missing a trick.
I’m particularly interested in why there is nothing on Mumsnet from MAPS. I will be meeting MAPS next week and will be asking about this.In 2018
Mumsnet had 1.3 billion page views from 119 million unique users, and revenue of £8.6 million. Ignore it’s scope and power at your peril/