We want your thoughts on women's equality
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FEBRUARY 20, 2023
Good morning and happy Monday! Sheesh, this month is flying by. It feels as though a whole lifetime has passed since we published the results of our last survey on the status of gender equity last April.

A lot has happened since then, and we want to hear your honest thoughts and opinions on the issues that women are currently facing for this year’s survey. We’ll publish the results later this spring.

Have a great week!

– Emily Kestel, Fearless editor

We want your thoughts on gender equity
Progress on gender equality can often seem as though it’s moving at a snail’s pace. Significant gains have been made in recent years, but setbacks often accompany them. Case in point: Iowa is led by a female governor and the country is in part headed by a female vice president, but women continue to hold fewer than a third of seats in state legislatures and the U.S. Congress. Women steadily occupy more and more positions at the highest levels of leadership each year, but women also have yet to return to pre-pandemic labor force participation levels.

For eight years, the Business Record has published an annual survey dedicated to shining a light on women’s and gender issues. The results and trends differ every year (see previous coverage from 2022 and 2021), but one thing remains the same: Women are still not on equal footing with their male counterparts in many aspects of life.

We encourage you to share your thoughts with us in this year’s survey. While nonscientific, we believe the results illustrate current opinions and experiences that women have across the state in and outside of work.

We also recognize that women are not monoliths, and all of us have different opinions, which is why we strive to receive a wide variety of responses that reflect the diversity of thought and experiences in the state.

The survey will remain open through Monday, March 13, at 11:59 p.m. Results and select comments will appear in future Business Record and Fearless coverage. There are multiple-choice questions and short-answer questions where you can leave comments when you feel it's appropriate. Please include your name and title if you wish your comments to be considered for publication.

Thank you for participating in this survey, and thank you for the role you play in empowering Iowa women.

- Emily Barske, Business Record editor, and Emily Kestel, Fearless editor

Navigating financial health in retirement
This is the final part of a four-part guest commentary series from Foster Group that aims to provide insight into navigating your financial health, from early career to retirement.

Planning for retirement is the journey of a lifetime – a marathon, not a sprint. But what happens after you cross the finish line? You may feel proud, relieved, excited. You may wonder, "What’s next? How do I navigate this new chapter?" Read on for more on the art and science of navigating life after the working world.

Retire "to" something, not just "from" something.
Retirement is so much more than simply not going to work anymore. We encourage our client families to consider what they want to retire "to." Whether it is hobbies, volunteering, travel or spending more time with family, most happy retirees have a project or activity they pick up once they leave the working world.

No more paycheck. Now what?
Before you do much else in retirement, take time to figure out how to pay yourself and re-create your paycheck to fund your lifestyle needs. Thinking about this ahead of time will help bring peace of mind. You may have a few income streams to tap, including Social Security benefits, retirement account withdrawals, business income, rental real estate income, farm cash rent income and employer pension benefits.

One key retirement income decision is when to start collecting Social Security. Payments can begin as soon as age 62, but there is a reduced benefit for collecting early. Workers reach "full retirement age" between ages 66-67, depending on when you were born. If you delay collection past full retirement age, your benefit will increase for each year you wait, and the latest you can begin collecting is age 70.

Most likely, you’ll need withdrawals from employer retirement plans and IRAs to supplement your Social Security benefits. Sketching out a plan for retirement account distributions is a must since it usually involves making three kinds of decisions in one: income decisions (how much to withdraw), income tax decisions (what tax consequence accompanies a withdrawal), and investment decisions (which assets to sell). You’ll also be required to start taking withdrawals from pretax retirement plans like 401(k)s, 403(b)s and traditional IRAs between ages 72 and 75, depending on when you were born. Working with a financial adviser and tax professional can help you gain clarity with managing distributions.

Another significant transition to navigate is Medicare enrollment when your eligibility begins at age 65. Information, misinformation and advertising disguised as education abound, making the process confusing for many retirees. As advisers, we help our clients through this transition and demystify Medicare enrollment. The Senior Health Insurance Information Program is also a helpful resource and objective source for information.

A conservative approach to investing
As you shift from using earned income to using savings, investments and retirement plans to fund your retirement, how your portfolio is invested may also need to shift. It’s common for retirees’ asset allocations to move in a more conservative direction to avoid taking undue risks while taking withdrawals.

When we engage with clients, we help select an appropriate asset allocation for their portfolio. Every client is unique, and we incorporate multiple factors into the analysis, including age, cash needs, investment time horizon, and appetite for risk.
Periodic down-market environments are a reality of life as an investor, and we work hard to prepare our clients ahead of time to build the confidence they need to withstand periods of choppy waters and stormy seas in the market ocean.

Protect yourself and your family
Throughout your life, you probably relied on insurance to protect yourself and your family from economic setbacks. However, the roles of life insurance and disability insurance, in particular, shift as you build wealth. It’s critical to review your insurance every few years to make sure it is right-sized for you. Early on, there are large gaps to fill in the event of a premature passing, and as your wealth grows, those gaps narrow.

Long-term care insurance also is of interest to many of our clients. The thought of depleting your nest egg to cover the cost of assisted living, nursing care or memory care is frightening. It’s something to consider, especially in your 50s and above. Because not all policies are created equal, we recommend working with an experienced and impartial insurance adviser.

Leaving your legacy
There can be a lot of hesitation to discuss money and wealth with family, from fear of losing family privacy to having a negative effect on your children’s or grandchildren’s work ethic. The families we work with that have been the most successful have been intentional with their communication and don’t let silence speak volumes. While it can take time to build trust, regular communication helps prevent friction and conflict later on.

Give your financial plan a yearly physical
Depending on the complexity of your financial situation, we recommend taking a look at your financial plan one or twice a year. Estate planning documents should be reviewed every three to five years and when a major life change occurs or when new tax laws come into play.

Here’s to bright sun, calm waters and smooth sailing in retirement!

PLEASE SEE IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION at A copy of our written disclosure Brochure as set forth on Part 2A of Form ADV is available at

Left: Presidential candidate Nikki Haley. Center: YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki. Right: Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
In the headlines
Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and South Carolina governor Nikki Haley
announced she is running for president. She is the first Asian American woman to run for the Republican presidential nomination.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, who led the company for the last nine years, announced she is stepping down from the position in order to "start a new chapter focused on my family, health and personal projects I’m passionate about."

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she plans to step down from her role, after eight years in the position. Her reasoning for why is similar to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who announced a month ago she was stepping down because she "no longer had enough in the tank." In a speech, Sturgeon described the "brutality" of serving in the top leadership role, which she said left no room for a private life or even to "meet friends for a coffee or go for a walk on your own."

History was made right before kickoff on Super Bowl Sunday. For the first time in NFL history, the U.S. Navy flyover was piloted by all women, led by Lt. Peggy Dente. The event honored 50 years since women were allowed to be U.S. Navy pilots.

Companies in the S&P 500 added more Black women to their boards in 12 months spanning 2021 and 2022 than in any similar period in at least the past 15 years, according to recruiting firm Spencer Stuart. As of April 30, 2022, 46 of the 395 new directors named since May 1, 2021, or 12%, were Black women.

A Des Moines woman has made the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s list of the top 50 donors of 2022, which also features Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg and Warren Buffet. Harriett Macomber was listed at No. 45 on the list, and donated $45 million in 2022 to create endowments for eight nonprofits through the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines.

Those who assault pregnant people would face a punishment of up to five years in prison under a bill that was advanced last week by an Iowa Senate subcommittee. Senate File 223 has the potential to enhance an assault charge to a felony if the crime is "against another person who the [offender] knows or reasonably should know is a pregnant person."

The Iowa Business and Professional Women Foundation is accepting applications for educational scholarships for the 2023-24 academic year. Four $1,000 scholarships will be available to nontraditional students who are already in the workplace and want to attend school to further their education or training necessary for careers in business and professions.

The MOIsson and Zeal breakfast clubs are hosting a leadership workshop for women on April 18. Titled "Unapologetically Bold," the event will feature remarks from Beth Shelton, CEO of Girl Scouts on Greater Iowa, and Whitney Warne, emotional intelligence consultant and owner of Ivory House Photography. The two will talk about embracing failure and self-leadership. The event will be held from 12:30 to 5 p.m. at West48 in West Des Moines. Tickets are $39.

Worth checking out
Why Iowa's abortion fight relies on pregnancy resource centers: Will women be helped or hurt? (Des Moines Register). In a post-Roe world, these conservatives embrace a new kind of welfare (New York Times). Women lost more jobs early in the pandemic. They’re also returning faster (Washington Post).
YWRC announces 2023 Louise Rosenfield Noun award recipients
The Young Women’s Resource Center announced that the recipients of the Louise Rosenfield Noun Impact, Purpose and Visionary awards are Shannissy Catron, Maria Volante and Dawn Martinez Oropeza. Together, the awards honor women who have made significant contributions toward the empowerment of girls and young women.

The Visionary award, to be received by Martinez Oropeza, honors advocates, activists, innovators and philanthropists who are committed to progressing equity and uplifting voices of girls and young women. Martinez Oropeza is the executive director of Al Exito, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to advancing the educational achievement and transformative leadership capacity of Latinx youths and their families.

The Impact award, to be received by Catron, honors a community member for the significant contributions they have made toward the empowerment of girls and young women through direct service, programming and/or mentorship. Catron is a doula and has worked with Young Women’s Resource Center participants and has led training for working with sexual assault survivors during pregnancy, birthing and postpartum, according to a news release.

The Purpose award is new this year, and is presented to an individual or family who has made an exceptional commitment to the Young Women’s Resource Center through volunteering and/or financial support. Volante has served in various board positions at YWRC, and has donated her time and treasure to the organization, according to a release.

Previous winners of the Louise Rosenfield Noun awards include Connie Wimer, Renee Hardman, Sydney Moore, Roxanne Conlin, Susan Knapp, Connie Boesen, Deidre DeJear, Katie Patterson, Barbara Adams and Rekha Basu.

The three awardees will be honored at the Young Women’s Resource Center’s annual gala on April 1 at the Hilton Des Moines Downtown. Tickets for the gala are available at this link.

Be fearless with us
At its core, Fearless exists to help empower Iowa women to succeed in work and life. We believe that everyone has a story to share and that we cannot progress as a society unless we know about one another. We share stories through featuring women in our reporting, featuring guest contributions and speakers at our events.

We are always looking for new stories to share and people to feature. Get in touch with us!

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