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Venus Williams And Sallie Krawcheck Want Women To Invest


We've got one more take on Women and Money. Our next guest has spent a lot of time thinking about how women can secure their financial futures. You know Venus Williams. So far, she's won 21 Grand Slam titles, including both singles and doubles. And she's got five Olympic gold medals in her trophy case and just won a silver in Rio. Also with us is Sallie Krawcheck For decades, she's been on every list of the most influential women on Wall Street. She's the former chief financial officer of Citigroup and was later CEO of Merrill Lynch's Global Wealth Management Division. Now she's launched her own company aimed at helping women invest on their terms. It's called Ellevest. It's being backed financially by some big names like Venus Williams. Venus Williams, Sallie Krawcheck, welcome to you both.

SALLIE KRAWCHECK: Thank you for having us.


MARTIN: Sallie Krawcheck, I'm going to start with you - and let me make the standard disclaimer that we are not endorsing any financial product or instrument - but the first thing I wanted to ask you is to tell us about this company and what does it do that other firms like it do not do?

KRAWCHECK: This is a digital investing platform. It's targeted to women and not in the aren't we all women together and now let's talk about being women together, but in the women have different characteristics and needs than men do. For example, women tend to live longer than men do. Women tend to have, unfortunately, their salaries peaked sooner than men's do. Both of these things are extraordinarily important in putting together financial and investing plans for women.

MARTIN: As I mentioned earlier, you were on Wall Street for years, and a lot of people would have pointed to your career as evidence that there was no gender problem, you know, on Wall Street...

KRAWCHECK: (Laughter).

MARTIN: ...And I wonder high-profile people experience all the time - they say, well, you're here so why can't everybody else do this?

KRAWCHECK: Well, first of all, I would say name some other woman. Facts are that the financial advisers on Wall Street today or anywhere depending on which firm, what point in time - 85 to 88 percent male, and that is part of why investing for women they tell us feels unapproachable because they don't see people who look like them.

As a result, men tend to leave their financial adviser at a single-digit-percent rate in any given year. And women leave their husband and their joint financial adviser in the year after their spouse's death at a rate of greater than 70 percent - seven-zero.

MARTIN: Why do you think it is, Venus, that, you know - it isn't just women who sometimes seem to be getting financial advice that's not tailored to their best interests. I mean, we're constantly hearing stories about athletes like yourself who somehow wind up broke. I mean, why is that?

WILLIAMS: It's difficult. Sometimes, you know, once you pay your taxes and once you pay your expenses, once you've lived this life, things add up quickly. And it's easy to become a statistic. And that's something I've always tried to avoid, and I've always said, hey - not that it won't be me, that, hey, it could be me. How can I counteract anything of that sort of nature? Part of this too is, you know, me getting involved with helping other athletes to avoid such pitfalls.

MARTIN: Let me ask both of you. And, Sallie, I'll start with you on this. What has informed your view of these issues? Because, you know, you were in a lot of those rooms that a lot of other women have never made it to - right? - some very nice - I've never been to your office but presumably you had a corner office at some point - and yet you have come away with those experiences with a very different perspective about what is needed. I'm wondering what informs your views of that.

KRAWCHECK: All of the research I've done that it just doesn't work as well for women today as it does for men. And so I'm really putting my life towards helping women to invest, and there's a circular reference here because if women can invest and give themselves the opportunity to earn higher returns, they can start those businesses. They can go to work with a little more confidence to ask for that promotion, to ask for the new assignment, etc. I don't think there's any of us, by the way, who think that if there were more women at the top of the Wall Street firms that the financial crisis would have been worse. Right? We all sort of intuitively know that things would have been better, so all these things, to me, combine to economic growth and greater economic stability.

MARTIN: Venus, what about you? What informs your view of this and how you handle your own money?

WILLIAMS: You know, growing up my - you know, I came from Compton, Calif., and, you know, it was a place where a lot of people did come out when a lot of people stayed. So I've been able to see the top and the bottom of life, and I think that balances you if you allow it to and if you remember where you came from.

And my parents always told us, you know, you have to get your education. You're not supposed to become a statistic. These things can happen to you. My dad literally took us to skid row in the '80s and would show us people who had hit the bottom, and they let us see everything, so that was huge for us. And it's always left an impression on me, and it makes you think. It makes you think, and it makes you get involved in your life.

MARTIN: Well, that's Venus Williams. She's one of the best tennis players of all time, recently brought home the silver from Rio, just to add to her trophy case which has too many trophies in it for me to mention again. And she joined us from New York along with Sallie Krawcheck. She's the CEO of Ellevest. Venus Williams is one of the investors in Ellevest. They both joined us from New York. Thank you both so much for speaking with us.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

KRAWCHECK: Thank you for having us.

WILLIAMS: Speak to you next time. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.