Does Balance Truly Exist in the Lives of Professional Women? It’s Up to You

Noreen D. BeamanNoreen D. Beaman, Chief Executive Officer, Brinker Capital

Last week I had the pleasure of attending Financial Advisor magazine’s inaugural Invest in Women conference in Las Vegas. It was well attended by prominent and respected women of the financial services industry and it was a two-day agenda full of valuable discussions and presentations about all aspects of women in the financial industry.

Throughout the day-one discussions, the debate emerged about whether balance can truly exist in the lives of professional women. A few contended that a meaningful balance can be achieved but the majority concluded that, for most women, balance between career and family is an ever-shifting goal. At best, it’s a moving target that we may occasionally hit; most of the arrows we fire blindly sail past the target, leaving us struggling to find a way to “do it all.”

The story isn’t a new one—professional women have been trying to balance the needs of family and career (and self? – often that’s not even on the list) for many years with varying degrees of success. Most of the women at the conference agreed that it was a perpetual juggling act, often lasting for years, sometimes decades. Many have spent some time forsaking career for family and raising children. Others have spent time away from home, focused on growing a career and meeting the demands of their professional lives. And now as individuals are living longer, many are struggling with the task of supporting both aging parents and children while maintaining a successful and demanding career. Many have done all of it at one time or another.

shutterstock_99376793As we moved into day two, the discussions evolved as it became clearer that the answer to find what works best at any given time lies within each of us. There’s no consolation for those looking for the magic plan or formula, but the truth is that it’s upon each of us – male or female – to drive our own life choices and embrace the decisions we make. Balance is an elusive target, and the journey is personal and unique to each of us.

In my 20+ years of being part of the financial services industry, no employer has ever offered to take a back seat so that I could be more present for my children. My family has never declared, “We can handle everything from here, why don’t you spend more time focused on your career?” It’s on each of us to determine when and where to make sacrifices and to decide when to step back and when to dive in.

It’s not up to our family or our employer to make our choices for us. Every individual must assess their life situation with every change, evaluate their priorities, weigh the sacrifices and be willing to carry out the ones we choose. It’s sometimes easier to put the onus on others—whether work or family—to determine our level of engagement and then complain if we are being pulled too far in one direction. But if we truly own our decisions and acknowledge that we will make mistakes now and then, we empower ourselves to be more successful in both our careers and our lives.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are for informational purposes only. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

What About The Correction?

Jeff RauppJeff Raupp, CFA, Senior Investment Manager

Over the holidays, I spent a lot of time with some family members that I don’t often get to see. We got together, had a little too much to eat and drink, and gave each other updates on what’s happening in our lives. Between the updates on kids, new careers, and new houses (no new spouses or kids this year), we never miss the opportunity to get some free advice from one another.

My two sisters are both in healthcare and handle all questions related to our aches and pains. My cousin the mechanic will venture out to the driveway and listen to the ping in your engine for the cost of getting him a beer. You get the idea.

My contribution is on the investment side, fielding questions about 529 plans, IRA distributions, 401(k) plans, etc. But the biggest question is always some version of “where is the market going?” This year’s edition, fueled by the huge returns in stocks in 2013 (and a good dose of CNBC), was “do you think we’re going to get a market correction?”

Hello, My Name is Free AdviceI suggested that when you look at how far the market has run and the high levels of investor sentiment right now—indicating that a lot of good news is priced into the market— I could easily see the market pulling back 5-10% on some unexpected bad news. The natural response from my family was, “What should I do?” “Nothing,” was my presumably blunt response.

My rationale is this: From a fundamental standpoint, the market looks good. Companies continue to grow earnings at a steady, albeit slow, rate. The market isn’t cheap, but it isn’t expensive either, and rarely does P/E compress without a recession. Speaking of the r-word, GDP growth continues to be sluggish, but it’s positive and expected to increase in 2014. Housing, the root cause of the last recession, continues to improve in spite of rising rates. And the Fed launched the previously-dreaded tapering of its quantitative easing without any market hiccup.

Depending on the attention span of my audience, all of that might boil down to simply saying, “We could get a correction, but if you’ve got at least 6-12 months, I think the market will be positive from here.”

Now, let’s go check out that leak on my car…