You're not alone: Even Wall Street titans have a hard time figuring out how to negotiate money issues in their relationships, as Sallie Krawcheck makes clear in a revealing interview with WNYC's Anna Sale on a recent episode of the podcast "Death, Sex & Money."
Years ago in her first marriage, Krawcheck — who was the CEO of Morgan Stanley's wealth management division Smith Barney and then the CFO of Citibank — found herself making more than her husband.
The fact that she was succeeding professionally while he was "plateauing," was "part of what broke the marriage down," Krawcheck tells Sale.
After their divorce, Krawcheck had to learn how to handle her own finances for the first time. That's because, even though she had been making more, and even though she had been the one to go to business school, she had let her husband manage their money.
"I knew vaguely how much we had," Krawcheck says. "It's not that I didn't know. It's that I wasn't in control of it."
That, Krawcheck discovered, was a mistake. "When you're reeling from a break to a relationship, that's a really bad time to try to figure out how to manage your money," the CEO says.
When Sale asks her what going through a divorce taught her about money, Krawcheck replies, "Have it."
All the same, when she married her second husband, she decided against signing a prenuptial agreement to protect her money.
"We talked for a period of time about having a prenup, and made the decision not to," says Krawcheck. "It felt like we were negotiating a divorce before we got married." Remembering is enough to make her shudder.
Divorce isn't the only major financial setback Krawcheck has had to deal with. When the market crashed, her portfolio did too.
"My net worth was cut, certainly the majority of it was wiped out," she says. "Citi's stock went from $53 to less than $1. ... It was my largest asset. You can do the math."
And she hasn't been earning as much lately, because she's been busy starting her new investment platform for women, Ellevest.
Her second husband has been a very supportive partner, though, Krawcheck tells Sale. And this time around, she remains on top of her finances. Knowledge brings her comfort. "[I] keep an Excel spreadsheet on my computer where I keep track of what my net worth is, and that makes me feel better," she says.
Still, even for financial professionals, it turns out money is hard to discuss. "I don't like talking about money with you," Krawcheck blurts out. "This makes me very uncomfortable." Though she's made it her life's work to help other people talk about their financial situations, she tells Sale, "I never talk about my money!"
"It is interesting how awkward it is to talk about it," she says, "even though I talk about it in the abstract every day."