Skip to main content

Mobilize Women '19 Closing the Confidence Gap

CEO of Individual Solutions, Prudential Financial, Inc. Individual Solutions provides financial advice and develops, distributes and services annuities, life insurance and other outcome-oriented solutions for consumers. The group is comprised of Prudential Annuities, Prudential Individual Life Insurance and Prudential Advisors.

Prior to her current role as CEO of Individual Solutions, Feeney was president of Prudential Individual Life Insurance.

Feeney is Prudential’s representative for the National Association for Female Executives and serves on the Executive Roundtable. She also serves as a trustee of Prudential’s Corporate Social Responsibility Oversight Committee, which guides the company’s foundation and its investments in social enterprises, long-term partnerships, financial intermediaries, and real assets to strengthen communities and realize Prudential’s belief that financial security should be within reach for everyone.

Feeney began her career with Prudential in 1993 and held several field leadership positions and home office executive roles, including president of Prudential Advisors, which is Prudential’s national sales organization comprising more than 3,000 financial professionals, advisors and fee-based financial planners who offer clients a broad range of financial solutions.

Feeney earned her MBA from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from Bucknell University. She holds the Chartered Life Underwriter and Chartered Financial Consultant designations.

Livestream recordings made possible by RBC Wealth Management - U.S.


Speaker 1: 00:23 There is not enough energy in this room. This is a, this is always what happens when you get 500 of your closest girlfriends all together in one room. So I want to start off by thanking Ellevate and Kristy in particular for creating this forum Prudential is actually a platinum sponsor of this event because we strongly believe that there are real issues that women continue to face in the workplace. There are also real challenges that women continue to face in terms of achieving financial security. And so it's really important. We believe it's very important that we address these issues more openly and more directly in forums like this one. So I do believe that we've made progress and in many respects we've come a long way. Um, but I would also say that there is so much more progress to be made. Yes.

Speaker 1: 01:18 And I see my Prudential family over there saying, yes, there is. Yes, there is a. So my own personal career journey began actually with Pru 25 years ago now and I started in the sales and distribution side. So I think you can all imagine at that time it was very much a male dominated industry. So in fact, I do recall having one role where I was a Sales Manager and there were 1200 of us across the country and there were only two women. Um, and I was one of them. And you think that's bad enough? She decided to leave the company, which left me. So I learned really early on that I wasn't one of the guys, I didn't need to pretend to be one of the guys. And my best bet was just be my authentic self. Something that I [inaudible] that is something that I've tried to carry forward through all these years.

Speaker 1: 02:16 And you know, I had my share of challenges, like I'm sure you could imagine that. And there were people that were very tough on me, those that I think really wanted to make sure that, uh, they knew that, um, I didn't belong and that I couldn't make it. And so what I chose to do is make a very conscious position to be able to take something away from all of those experiences. But I was also very fortunate on the flip side to have men who mentored me, who sponsored me, who did support me along the way. And from all of them, I learned the importance of paying it forward, which is absolutely something that I make a priority to do to this day. It's very important to me. And so one of the things I was also fortunate to have at Prudential was the opportunity to move into many different roles through those 25 years.

Speaker 1: 03:09 And quite candidly, I wouldn't have stayed with a company for 25 years, one company for 25 years if it hadn't been for great culture, if it hadn't been for terrific leaders along the way. And also the opportunity to have all of those different challenges and all of those different learning experiences. And one of the things that, that I found was it was less about the moves. So it was less about the promotions. It was more about what are the things that I'm learning from each of those experiences. And as my career progressed, my confidence grew with all of those leadership experiences. Um, but I learned then and I still see today, I absolutely see it all the time, that the confidence gap continues to be a stumbling block for women in the workplace. And I see many women far younger than me in the audience.

Speaker 1: 04:05 Um, and if I had some advice I could give my younger self, it would be to have that confidence. It would be to have that trust in myself earlier on in my career because I can't tell you how many times I was in meeting after meeting where I was most often, most junior person in the room. And I felt as though I had a great idea to contribute to the conversation you, I worked at in my head for so long to make sure that I was going to articulate it absolutely perfectly. And before I knew it, somebody else shared that same idea that I was in my head and I was right. It was a great idea. Everybody loved it. I just wasn't the one to share it. That only has to happen to you so many times before you say, what's the worst that can happen?

Speaker 1: 04:59 Just speak up. And then the other thing I used to do was discredit or disqualify my ideas before they even came out of my mouth. And it sounds something like this, I'd say something to the effect of, well I was just thinking have an idea. It's probably not gonna work, but, and so if I could give that younger self some advice, I'd say don't second guess yourself in your head and don't second guess yourself out loud. And that confidence, that lack of confidence that we now call the confidence gap plays out in so many other ways in the workplace. There is a strong body of evidence and a lot of research that shows that still today women will not put their hat in the ring. They will not put themselves forward for a role unless they meet virtually every single qualification for the role. Compare that to men.

Speaker 1: 05:59 You got it. You know where I'm going. Who will very quickly put their hat in the ring with far less experience and just assume I will learn it on the job. So with the challenges that that causes very often for, for advancement for women in the workplace, that then translates into less pay even when you put the very real gender pay gap aside and so with less money and a whole host of other issues and reasons, what happens is that women are at a disadvantage very often for achieving financial security in their lives. And when I think about the very unique financial challenges that women face, I do think it's really important first to point out the very important role that women play in the economy today, women's stand to inherit, the lion's share of the estimated three point $2 trillion in assets. That sounds good, right?

Speaker 1: 07:01 It does. That's going to transfer to the next generation in the U.S. In the coming years. Women account for 51% of the population and we control over $11.2 trillion dollars in investible assets. But with all of the money that women control today, there still is a challenging relationship that we see between women and money and Prudential actually views these challenges in four different categories. The first is the time gap. And we described the time gap as working women spending 28 hours on average per week doing unpaid work compared to, and by the way greater than 65% greater, excuse me, than working men. And, and that could be anything from caregiving, it could be household chores, which by the way, I thought about as I was putting a load of laundry in this morning before I'm coming in to New York at six o'clock in the morning. So I didn't think about that.

Speaker 1: 08:13 And that's very real and it's all important work, but it's still unpaid work. And then there's the wage gap. And we've all heard that statistic time and time again, women are paid 81 cents for every dollar earned by a man. And then we have the longevity gap, which is also very real because women today still live on average five to six years longer than men. So if you fast forward that you translate to what that may mean, that could mean higher healthcare costs down the road. And just the very simple reality that women will need to fund a longer retirement period. And finally, the last one is the investment cap because all the evidence shows that women actually invest less than men. So where you would think that women would actually try to, um, phage against and, and work back against that gender pay gap, they actually do the opposite. They invest less. And on average, women keep 70% of their assets in cash. It is critically important that we talk about these issues because it's so important that women know that they're not alone in this. And retirement today can span decades if we rewind the clock, if we go back in time and we go back to the early 19 hundreds, the average worker could expect to live seven years in retirement.

Speaker 1: 09:46 Fast forward 2000 year, 2000 the average worker could expect to live 18 years in retirement today that expected retirement is 25 years, 25 years. Coupled that with the fact that pensions are now a rarity. Social Security was never intended to be our sole source of income. So personal savings has now become more important than ever before. Yet for women, the savings gap is so much larger and that retirement income need is longer. As I said previously, and by the age of 85 women will outnumber men two to one, we will have saved 43% less than men for our retirement. So it is absolutely no surprise at all that less than 50% of women have any confidence that they will have enough money to fund their retirement. This is a serious challenge and we need to help women create a life of financial security. And so one of the things that I would tell women is just take the first step, do some homework on it, do a realistic self assessment of what you want your future financial goals to be and what do you have against that?

Speaker 1: 11:17 What assets do you have? And the great thing today is there are so many options available to help people learn how to be more financially secure. So there's online tools and resources and plenty of them. If somebody wants to be more self directed, there's also a hybrid approach which combines online tools with an advisor who can talk to somebody on the phone or through video chat. And finally there's financial advisors who can connect with people face to face and provide comprehensive advice. And I think the main thing here is knowing that you don't have to go it alone because we already all have really full plates and plenty of responsibilities. So this is absolutely one area, one very important area where you can count on a professional and somebody who has the expertise to help you develop a plan so that you have a secure financial future.

Speaker 1: 12:18 So I will just close by saying whether it is advancement in the workplace, whether it is equal pay, whether it is trying to achieve financial security, there are very real challenges that women face that are very often different than those challenges that men face. But it is important that we're not just talking amongst ourselves and that we realize men are very much our partners in this and we have to come together to solve these important issues. And I also think it's important for many women, myself included in that equation. When you find yourself in a position that provides you the opportunity to help others, you need to do that. You need to give back. You need to mentor, and you need to advocate. We need to advocate for each other as much as possible. And it's forums like this with Ellevate. And so many of you here who are so committed to helping make things better, that actually gives me the confidence that as we continue to work together, we will continue to make progress against these very important issues. Uh, thank you very much and I hope,


Continue learning with this Ellevate Playbook:

Start your day off with The Morning Boost, our newsletter with everything you need to take your career to the next level – all from members of the Ellevate community.

By sharing your email you agree to our Terms of Use & Privacy Policy

By sharing your email you agree to our Terms of Use & Privacy Policy


Thank you! Career advice and opportunities are on the way to your inbox.

Add your zip code, so we can invite you to our local events!