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In the spirit of Women’s History Month, I spoke with an amazing woman in the financial advisory industry and wanted to share her wisdom with you.

I’m talking about Ms. MaryGrace Musuneggi, the Chairman & CEO of The Musuneggi Financial Group.

Ms. Musuneggi’s story and insights are great for any financial advisor wanting to learn. And most importantly, how to help women through their financial matters.

So, let’s get started.

From Tragic Beginnings to Breaking Down Walls

Forty-three years ago, tragedy struck MaryGrace’s life when her husband passed away unexpectedly, leaving her a single mother to a newborn son - Chris.

Not only dealing with the grief, MaryGrace was worried about her financial situation as a language arts teacher. She knew that more was needed to fend for herself and her son. Determined to find a better path forward, she began on a journey that would defy expectations and shape her into a success.

Despite the financial challenges she faced, MaryGrace refused to be confined by limitations. With the help of a supportive friend, she entered into the world of business, landing a job as a secretary at an insurance agency in Pittsburgh. Undeterred by the male-dominated industry, she set her sights on becoming an insurance agent, a position never before held by a woman in the agency's history.

Though met with skepticism and ridicule, MaryGrace persisted, driven by her desire for financial independence and the flexibility to raise her son as a single mother.

After being given a shot as an agent, she began her new career. And in doing so, she recognized that women were often overlooked in matters of wealth and financial planning, so she initially targeted men. It proved successful for a time, but she soon had a revelation.

Drawing from her own experiences of loss and hardship—having lost her husband and later going through a divorce—she realized the importance of supporting women facing similar challenges. She understood the significance of empowerment and guidance during times of transition and advocated for women to take control of their financial futures.

"Women need to keep their eye on their own goals and targets," she often advised. She also emphasized the importance of education, professional advice, and personal relationships in the world of finances.

Her strong belief in the saying — "I know what I know, and I know what I don’t know"— served as a guiding principle. And believed women and men should understand this when dealing with financial matters.

It was a pleasure speaking with MaryGrace – she is a wonderful and humble person. She is also very easy to speak with.

After speaking with her, I decided to investigate further into the points she was stressing – how women lag in the financial education area.

And the data was quite shocking. . .

Women Seem To Still Lag In Financial Literacy and Other Matters

According to Bankrate1 – there are a few lacking trends for women regarding finances, retirement, and income - such as:

The Retirement Savings Gap: Working women are falling behind men in retirement savings. A staggering 62% are behind, with 41% significantly behind, compared to 48% and 30% of men, respectively. This gap is further reflected in average retirement account balances: $98,000 for men and just $62,000 for women.

Financial Confidence Paradox: While nearly half (48%) of women feel confident about their finances, only 28% feel empowered to take charge. This suggests a gap between knowledge and action.

Investment Management: Although over half (53%) of women express confidence in managing investments, only 44% feel comfortable building a diversified portfolio. This highlights a need for support in translating confidence into active investment strategies.

And according to a 2023 survey via Allianz2, there’s a persistent difference in the financial literacy gap between men and women.

·         For instance, this study showed a higher percentage of women throughout the world falling into the low financial literacy category (30%) than men (21%). Conversely, a smaller proportion of women were in the high financial literacy category (11%) compared to men (19%).

This data mirrors the points MaryGrace was highlighting – women need to focus on education first, then professional advice, and find a trusted advisor if needed.

What We Can Learn From MaryGrace: The Main Takeaways

So, when it comes to boosting financial knowledge, especially for women, it's all about breaking it down into four key areas.

1.      Confidence: it's crucial to shake off that feeling of being in the dark about money matters. Women should be able to talk openly about their financial struggles without feeling embarrassed or discouraged.

2.      Education: grasping the fundamentals will increase women's financial literacy – allowing them to stay informed and better set their goals.

3.      Seek Professional Advice: a woman may lack confidence and education at first, hence why it’s so important to find professional advice from a financial advisor who will take the time to help you, no matter the pace.

4.      Develop Trusted Personal Relationships: as MaryGrace highlighted, having trust is critical when making financial decisions. And in her opinion, more so for women. Building trust with a financial advisor allows for a potentially greater understanding of risks, returns, and proper planning so that a client can move forward with their financial goals.

So, here's to MaryGrace and all the incredible women out there taking control of their financial futures and helping others.







This communication is general in nature and provided for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be considered or relied upon as legal, tax or investment advice or an investment recommendation, or as a substitute for legal or tax counsel. Any investment products or services named herein are for illustrative purposes only and should not be considered an offer to buy or sell, or an investment recommendation for, any specific security, strategy or investment product or service. Always consult a qualified professional or your own independent financial professional for personalized advice or investment recommendations tailored to your specific goals, individual situation, and risk tolerance. All examples are hypothetical and are for illustrative purposes only.

MaryGrace Musuneggi is a client of and financial advisor using the services of Dunham & Associates Investment Counsell, Inc. but has not been compensated for sharing her opinion.

Dunham & Associates Investment Counsel, Inc. is a Registered Investment Adviser and Broker/Dealer. Member FINRA / SIPC. Advisory services and securities offered through Dunham & Associates Investment Counsel, Inc.