Men can certainly be jerks. Of course, women don’t have a monopoly on character either, but certain scenarios reveal a uniquely male potential for nastiness.
Take, for example, a divorcee named Sallie, whose ex-husband after seven years of marriage asked for a divorce, complaining she “had gained too much weight and was no longer a trophy wife.”
Or, take Karen, whose former husband she had thought of as her “best friend.” Yet after years building a successful business together, her “best friend” completely blindsided her when he told her he “fell in love” with a girl he met in a bar — after only 36 hours — during a business trip abroad.
Then there are the brutes, like Anne’s controlling ex-husband, who insisted she look and dress a certain way, challenged her personal decisions and eventually deprived her of access to their finances … and car.
Or Margaret’s ex, who — after she was diagnosed with breast cancer — told her he wanted someone younger and healthier with whom to share his life.
All these women were shattered by these cruel ex-husbands, but found a measure of solace and a way out through a Second Saturday, an all-volunteer program providing women with information about the legal, emotional and financial aspects of divorce.
While men naturally divorce as much as women do, the female orientation of the program is by design.
“Often what we have found is that women, when they’re in a group with men, don’t ask the questions they have,” says financial advisor Candace Bahr, who with CPA Ginita Wall has been running these workshops for 26 years. Moreover, she continues, “women in a group of other women create a sense of community that allows them to speak freely.”
While the group occasionally offers workshops for men, the emphasis on women has been primary because the need is generally greater.
“Often, because the male takes more control of the finances and the woman often is not as involved, her lack of experience and naiveté and her [propensity] to make nice and not stand up for what she needs to stand up for can put her in a position where she does not get what she is entitled to,” Bahr tells ThinkAdvisor.
Herself happily married for almost 36 years — 35 of which she and her husband have worked together as investment advisors — the principal of the LPL-affiliated Bahr Investment Group has carried out her Second Saturday workshops to help women in need; but she acknowledges it has also been a “huge feeder” to her business, based in Carlsbad, California.
As she reckons it, of the average of 30 women she sees each month, “maybe one or two will become a client, but I’ve helped 28 others [pro bono].”
So Bahr has helped more than 10,000 women over the years, but in the meantime has built a successful female-oriented niche advisory business with $114 million in assets under management.
The LPL advisor estimates that 70% of her group’s clients are single women, of whom 70% have gone through divorce and the other 30% are widows.
The divorce workshops are conducted by volunteers in three areas, addressing women’s basic legal, emotional and financial questions.
The $45 fee the women pay (waived in cases of extreme need) is all donated to three nonprofit organizations helping women, one of which Bahr herself co-founded: the Women’s Institute for Financial Education (wife.org), which seeks to empower women around money issues.
“It’s an opportunity to give back,” she says of the divorce workshops, “but it’s also an opportunity as an advisor to differentiate yourself from everybody else out there by giving back in a very different way.”
Bahr wants to make that differentiation opportunity available to advisors across the country, as a means of building their businesses while helping more women in these difficult life situations.
She and Wall have put together a sort of franchise program with a written manual, one-on-one training and monthly phone support for financial advisors who want to establish their own Second Saturday territory.