It's not until a number of women become widowed or divorced that they begin learning the basics of personal finance.
With its Smart Women Smart Money conference, Zions Bank is working to change that.
"We wanted to create a non-intimidating environment for women to learn," said Heidi Prokop, a Zions Bank vice president. "We want them to be informed and prepared."
The free conference, put on by the bank's Women's Financial Group, attracted a record crowd of 1,600 Wednesday at the Salt Palace Convention Center. The event, now in its sixth year, featured a variety of workshops on topics such as budgeting, starting an investment club and saving for college.
The conference is one of a number of personal finance education initiatives created by Zions, which is based in Salt Lake City. It also has efforts aimed at teaching high-school students about credit, young adults about frugality and families about living within their means.
To entice women to attend the Smart Women Smart Money conference, Zions Bank charged no fee to attend. Lunch was provided, and the bank brought in well-known actress Geena Davis as keynote speaker.
Over the years, Davis has become an outspoken advocate for creating more and better women's roles in films. On Wednesday, she talked about gender inequality in not only films but in "most sectors of society." She urged women to learn more about money.
"Financial smarts are one of the most important tools in our toolbox," Davis told attendees.
Davis told attendees not to be daunted by personal finance. "My personal motto is, 'If a person can do it, I can do it,' " she said.
She said her advice for being a successful actress involves in part being choosy about the movie roles she's accepted. That advice, she says, can apply to personal finance as well. Says Davis, "Choose carefully among offers that come your way."
Zions Bank financial education initiatives
The Smart Women Smart Money personal finance conference for women is just one of Zions Bank's efforts to promote financial knowledge and responsibility. Here are a few others:
Cheapster • Reality-television-type competition aimed at finding the most frugal young adults. Grand prize is $10,000. Go to Cheapster.tv for more information.
The Homeowner's Cafe • This new website is designed to provide information and resources to people who want to buy a home, those who are interested in investing in real estate and those who are behind on their mortgages. Go to Thehomeownerscafe.com for more information.
Financial Peace University • This 13-week personal finance course is offered periodically. Tuition is $99 per household. Call 800-376-7092 for more information.
Get Smart About Credit Day • Zions Bank employees teach high school students about responsible use of credit in October of each year.