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85 Broads Seeks to Make Women Smart About Money

BU chapter hosts financial workshop for women on Saturday


Lauren O’Toole (CAS’08, SMG’08) (left) and Lara Oakes (SMG’08), copresidents of the BU chapter of 85 Broads, at the Photonics Center. Photo by Robin Berghaus

The name 85 Broads may sound outdated. But the purpose of the networking and mentoring organization for women is entirely modern.

Janet Hanson, an entrepreneur and Wall Street veteran, established the organization for current and former Goldman Sachs female professionals in 1997. Hanson had worked for the firm for 14 years and playfully named the group after the company’s street address in New York City: 85 Broad St. Today, more than 17,000 members live on 7 continents, representing more than 1,000 companies and 250 colleges and graduate schools — including Boston University.

Last fall, Lara Oakes (SMG’08) and Lauren O’Toole (CAS’08, SMG’08) helped to cofound the BU chapter of 85 Broads. “The organization takes you throughout your career and the challenges you face later in your career and provides any resources you would need,” O’Toole says. “We encourage people to join and start a profile. It’s a lifetime relationship.”

On Saturday, April 12, the BU chapter will hold an intercollegiate conference, Investing in Women: A Woman’s Guide to Financial Savvy. The event includes breakfast, lunch, and a keynote address by Fidelity Investments senior vice president Sheila Cavanaugh, as well as budgeting and investing workshops and time to network with other members. BU Today spoke with Oakes and O’Toole to learn more about the organization and the upcoming conference.

BU Today: What is the goal of the conference?
The purpose of Investing in Women is to help undergraduate women to better manage their personal finances.

O’Toole: Our secondary goal would be bringing the women from BU together. It’s really for anybody who’s going to have an income, so it’s appropriate for anyone to attend. We’re also trying to bring in other schools and build bridges across the different chapters around Boston.

Why is it important for college students to learn about personal finances?
Coming out of college is the first time you really have a salary. People are trying to manage money and make decisions about buying versus leasing a car and looking at different job benefits and how to weigh them.

Oakes: The earlier you invest, the more significant an impact it can have on your portfolio. A lot of people might go through grad school first, and a lot of people might be in their late 20s before they start thinking, where should I put my money? How should I be investing it? If we can get people to start recognizing the value of smart budgeting and investing, then those extra couple of years can really make a significant impact later on in life.

Do women have to think differently from men about their personal finances?
I don’t think it’s necessarily that there are different issues to consider, but it’s more common for men to consider their personal finances than it is for women. This conference is targeting woman and saying, “You should come to this. You should be aware of this. And you should make it part of your life.”

O’Toole: As far as what I’ve read, men tend to be more risky with investments and women are more conservative. Women tend to save more, where men tend to invest more. That’s the real difference. I think women are careful with their finances and pay attention to them, but I think that they don’t go through with investing. Their money is just sitting there, and it could be making money for them.

What important financial tips will the conference attendees learn?
One of our speakers is a consultant with Fidelity, and she is going to make a presentation that she uses with clients at a professional level, with tips on day-to-day budgeting and the steps to investment.

Oakes: Some examples include Roth IRAs, which are pretty common for people our age, as well as 401Ks, what to do with first-job benefits, how to understand insurance, and what you’re actually getting when you sign on.

Why have you focused specifically on the topics of investment and budgeting?
Those are two main parts of managing your money. You can either spend it or you can save it and manage it well. If you’re not spending it or saving it, you can be making it work and grow.

What do you hope participants will take from the conference?
I hope that they do actually learn these steps and go home to take action with them. You can start doing the stuff we’re talking about today. Also, I would hope that they become exposed to 85 Broads, as well as the BU chapter. This is our first major event, and we’re trying to promote the network and build our 85 Broads community at BU and around Boston.

Investing in Women: A Woman’s Guide to Financial Savvy is being held on Saturday, April 12, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the BU Photonics Center, 8 Saint Mary’s St. Attire is business-casual and registration, which can be completed here, is required.

Rebecca McNamara can be reached at ramc@bu.edu. Robin Berghaus can be reached at berghaus@bu.edu.


One Comment on 85 Broads Seeks to Make Women Smart About Money

  • Eugene, SMG '08 on 04.11.2008 at 10:49 am

    Good Job.

    85 Broads is an amazing group. It makes us men envious of the networking opportunities these women have.

    PS. That picture looks like it belongs on the cover of Fortune.

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