The number of women-owned businesses in the United States topped 9.1 million in 1999, accounting for 38 percent of all U.S. firms. Nevertheless, millions of women have reportedly unique financial needs, interests and pressures. "When a woman finds herself in transition-inheriting or taking control of substantial assets; advancing swiftly in a career with stock options and partnership interests; or leaving, starting, turning around or selling a company-she often does not have anyone she can trust or consult for coordinated, independent, knowledgeable advice," observes Judith K. Fehlig, president of Fehlig Advisors in New York City.
To answer that perceived need, a number of women-oriented financial organizations have cropped up recently, many of them online, making it easier for busy women entrepreneurs to get the help they need. We've found a couple that are worth a look:
- Fehlig, along with five other professional women, formed The Financial Network for Women, or FNW (www.fnw.net). The network offers coordinated counsel on securing and managing wealth, transitions, careers and related business issues. If you're thinking of launching a business, for example FNW experts can guide you through the process, connecting you with experts in the fields of accounting, insurance, business management, investing, law and psychology. Designed more as a starting point for finding contacts and information about the FNW, this Web site isn't content-oriented, so be prepared to get on the phone.
- There's also the Women's Financial Network Inc. or WFN (www.wfn.com) an interactive site that is ideal if you prefer getting your information online. WFN presents financial information from a woman's perspective, allows members to buy financial products and services, and offers prescreened financial advisors committed to women. Th Web site features interactive discussions, a financial workbook, quizzes and online columns, plus access to financial products and services, including loans, insurance, online bill payment, credit reports and an online brokerage. Another cool feature is the "Dear Esther" section, where FNW members can ask certified financial planner Esther M. Berger their financial questions.
Paul DeCeglie (MrWritePDC@aol.com) is a former staff reporter for Journal of Commerce and American Banker.