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What women can do to achieve their investment goals

In today's stock-market uncertainty in the US, there are steps to build a sound plan.

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Volatile markets and bailout headlines continue to unsettle even the most savvy investors. In today's transformational market environment, many may wonder what actions they should take to protect their finances.

Women are particularly hesitant in today's markets, fearing that they will make the wrong decisions.

According to a study released by Prudential Financial in May, many women have set financial goals but lack understanding of basic financial products and services. This creates what Prudential calls a "confidence gap."

"Women often put their personal finances on the back burner," says Judy Rice, president of Prudential Investments. "My advice is to pay close attention in a challenging financial market and become educated as to risk. Invest with a longer-term perspective, seek the advice of a financial adviser, and don't panic."

Growing market uncertainty is occurring at the same time women are taking on increasing roles as providers for their families. Women contributed 35 percent of family income in 2005, and one out of four women earned more than their husbands, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. From 2000 to 2007, the earnings of women earnings grew 25 percent versus 19 percent for men.

As women become a greater economic force, specialized financial services are expanding to serve their particular needs. Insurance companies, investment and commercial banks, and financial planners are eager to educate women to market opportunities and risks.

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