BANKING ON WOMEN

The reasons why women need financial planning are legion: More than half of women over 65 are widows, women earn only about 76 cents for every dollar men are paid, and more than 50 percent of girls born today will live to be 100. OK, we’re convinced — women need to plan on going it alone at some point, save a bigger percentage of earnings, and maybe invest longer-term.

But do women need a special financial planning service? Citigroup thinks so. Its Women & Co. unit launched in three cities last fall and is now wrapping up a national rollout.

For $125 annually, members get the help of a financial professional at either Salomon Smith Barney or Citicorp Investment Services; assistance setting up a financial plan; newsletters and classes; discounts on mortgages, student loans, child care, and more; and a support service that helps when a spouse dies.

“Women think about money in a unique way,” says Lisa Caputo, president of Women & Co. “They take a much more life-stage approach and a more long-term view. They look for a financial planner to talk to them, not at them and not down to them, and who won’t just try to sell them.”

P.S. It’s not just for women. Caputo says “a significant number” of men have joined. For more information, see www.womenandco.com.