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Program helps women manage financial lives

By Staff | Jan 7, 2015

WOW has been a program which helps women manage their financial lives, as well as their emotional well being. (L to R) Robin Cook and Ginny Fleming are two of the WOW ladies who manage the programs. PHOTO PROVIDED

When times get tough after a loss of a beloved spouse, there is help and support for those on Sanibel Island through The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company’s WOW (Women. Opportunity. Wealth) program.

The majority of the time, it’s the wife who will have to venture into unknown financial and emotional territory after losing a husband. That’s where WOW comes in as guardians of a stable future for these women.

“WOW was started because women’s financial lives are different, we need to do some planning for them,” said Sanibel Captiva Trust Company Executive Vice President Robin Cook and one of the leaders for WOW. “One of the reasons women are different, often times, is that women live longer and face living alone and making all the decisions themselves.

“We work to help educate women and reduce their fears. A big fear of women is outliving their husbands and outliving their assets. We are there to help them if that unfortunate situation occurs.”

The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company is an independent company with $1.2 billion in assets under management which provides wealth management services, including investment management, trust administration and financial counsel to high-net worth individuals, families, businesses, foundations and endowments.

Janet Strickland, Ginny Fleming and Robin Cook are three of the WOW managers. WOW stands for “Women. Opportunity. Wealth.” Fleming founded WOW in 2005. PHOTO PROVIDED

The people of WOW are highly qualified to offer their assistance to those who find themselves in unfamiliar territory of managing their own finances after the passing of a loved one.

WOW can come in and help after an unfortunate circumstance has happened, or they also offer preventive information through Women’s Series sessions for higher-net worth families. WOW has up to 50 attendees per session, ranging from all over the area.

“What we want to do is help them before an event occurs,” Cook said. “We offer educational programs, mostly financially related, but also health programs. We also provide collateral materials, such as a personal data worksheet. When someone passes away, the surviving spouse or children will see what they had and where it is located. The personal data worksheet is a huge tool.

“Everything you do, affects your financial life.”

The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company is offering its 2015 Women’s Series sessions, which there are three of them. The first will be Tuesday, Jan. 13, entitled “Leaving a legacy – Family and charitable strategies.”

The session will have Attorney Janet Strickland and Sanibel Captiva Trust Company board member Cheryl Giattini as speakers.

The second session is Tuesday, Feb. 3, entitled “You’re in charge now – Make your nest egg last (investing strategies).” The session will have Naples Trust Company Senior Vice President and Senior Portfolio Manager Timothy Vick speak on investing opportunities.

The third session will be Wednesday, March 11, entitled “Strategies to protect your assets – Identity Theft and Insurance Home, Liability, etc.) with speakers being Lee County Sheriff Office’s Gerald McNulty and Kim Kovacs of Heidrick & Company Insurance.

All the sessions will begin at 9:30 a.m. at The Sanctuary on Sanibel Island, with limited seating. Interested WOW attendees should contact Frances Steger at 239-472-8300 or via email at FSteger@sancaptrustco.com.

In essence, WOW acts as a teacher to those in need of learning about their financial lives, all over again.

“My role as client advocate, is to act as a coordinator for all of the client’s financial services,” Cook said. “They can contact me and help with loans, insurance or even if they need a babysitter when family is coming into town, we will help.”

If the client receives something in mail and doesn’t understand it, Cook can contact an external source or one of the Trust Company’s internal people to help them out.

“I help them establish a budget and help them understand what kind of income they have and what they can spend,” Cook added. “We can instruct them how to use online banking and also work with the extended family if need be.”

Strickland, who has her own law firm and expertise in area of estate planning, wills, trusts and probates, understands first hand how much WOW has influenced and aided women who need the support in financial decisions.

“It is difficult to navigate through the many challenges encountered when a spouse or other loved one dies or becomes incapacitated,” Strickland said. “It can feel overwhelming when a person becomes responsible for not only her own financial well-being, but must, during a grieving period of time, handle all of the issues that arise upon the death of a spouse or partner. The WOW seminars are designed to give information and advice which will assist our female clients with thoroughly understanding their financial and legal planning, so they can choose the options which are in their best interests.”

WOW doesn’t just provide the knowledge of financial security to women, but also the emotional support needed.

“There’s a lot of hugging going on, that’s what I do,” Cook said. “There is a big emotional component to the process. We try and have as many women speakers as we can, because that does make the attendees more comfortable. We have gone as far as to pairing up people who have gone through losing a spouse with someone who is going through it presently and they form friendships with each. They help each other get through it.

“We are here for you and we are going to take care of you, along with the team here.”