Sherry Paul believes that wealth in the hands of women can change the world—and she’s making it happen. The senior vice president at UBS Private Wealth Management—who leads an all-female financial team and manages investment portfolios for a clientele that’s made up almost entirely of women—is helping women embrace their financial potential by breaking down the language of investment banking (something she says is intentionally confusing) and encouraging investments with a purpose.
A former political organizer with a rebellious streak, Paul joined the world of finance in the 1990s with a mission: financial equity for everyone. Muse caught up with the wealth whiz to find out exactly what that means—and how women should be spending, saving, and giving purpose to their hard-earned cash.
How should women be using their money?
In my heart, I believe that financial self-empowerment is really important—as important as having the right to vote. Whoever controls the spending power, in effect, is the major influencer in our economy. So, if you think about that in the context of women, we’re more than half the world’s population, and in the coming years, women will invariably be piloting the U.S. economy with their purchasing power. You don’t always have to have money to have power, but money is empowering. My greatest hope is that we amplify our financial access and knowledge across all age groups and capitalize on this collective moment for our own financial self-care first—and then for the greater good.
What gets in the way of feeling empowered?
Partly the worry that money defines the outcomes of your life, and partly a lack of knowledge around investing. I often say money is just a piece of paper until you define it and give it purpose. I talk with clients about the risk/return and standard deviation of an investment portfolio, but also about the standard deviation and volatility of the arc of life itself. How do you want money to serve the meaning of life as you envision it? For first-generation wealth creators, I often find that this is the first time they’ve ever had this conversation. They’ve been, understandably, so focused on creating their wealth that it almost feels like a luxury to stop and think about how money is changing the course of history for them and their families.
“In my heart, I believe that financial self-empowerment
is really important—as important as having the right to vote.”
What about women whose wealth comes through inheritance or marriage?
Just because you didn’t earn it doesn’t mean you can’t own it. Install yourself as the Chief Impact Officer of your family—in fact, get a business card made! Men and women who run companies often don’t have time to be the stewards of their family’s financial and social lives, so there’s an incredible opportunity for the non-earning spouse to step in and be a real thought leader around the family brand.
How can life changes—divorce, marriage, death—impact the way we view money?
When you find yourself in a moment of disruption, no matter how much money you have, it is the feeling that you don’t know how things work that erodes your confidence. Financial disruption is connected to a lot of fears—of abandonment, humiliation, the loss of friendships, the loss of self-worth. But with a disruptive change, you become the author of your financial narrative. My job is to get you to understand your narrative and your fears, so that when the stock market fluctuates, you don’t feel like your self-worth is fluctuating too.
How should we feel when our portfolio swings way up or way down?
Invested! The nature of investing is to take on volatility. When you have a well-defined goal for your money matched with a well-defined investment strategy, then you can embrace the normalcy of market movements without fear.