Financially in Charge at Home, Women Are Less Confident at Work

Half of women in poll claim advisors consider their spouse or partner the decision maker

A new study by Allianz Life finds that a majority of American women have assumed responsibility for their family’s finances, but many have not shown similar assertiveness at work.

Fifty-one percent of women surveyed said they were their household’s chief financial officer, and 37% said they were the family’s main breadwinner, up from 31% in Allianz Life’s 2013 study.

In addition, 53% reported that they either had a “great deal of responsibility” or “do it all” when managing the household’s long-term savings and investments.

Despite their large role in household finances, the number of women who said they had greater earning power than they had ever had fell to 50% from 57% in 2013. The study pointed to a factor that played into this perceived decline in earning power: Just 44% of respondents claimed that they had “leaned in” at work by asking for a raise or promotion they thought they deserved.

“Women are taking a larger role in managing household finances and are gaining more responsibility for the financial success of their family,” Allianz Life’s vice president of consumer insights Katie Libbe said in a statement.

“The savviness that women exhibit with their household finances can translate to being more assertive and having confidence to take risks in their careers.”

Following the November presidential election, Sally Krawcheck, chief executive of Ellevest, put together a checklist for women on how they can assert their power in the Trump era.

The Allianz Life study was based on an October survey of 1,416 women, ages 25 to 75 with household income of at least $30,000 a year. Some questions were resurveyed from the 2013 study, Allianz said.

Overcoming Uncertainty

Fifty-eight percent of women in the poll considered themselves more financially knowledgeable than their spouse or partner, and 67% said becoming savvier and more involved in managing finances had improved their quality of life.

At the same time, although 68% of respondents said they felt financially secure, 61% wished that they had more confidence in their financial decision-making and 63% that they knew more about financial planning and investing.

“While women may be satisfied with their current financial situation, having more financial knowledge can help build a better future and instill confidence,” Libbe said. “By utilizing available resources or working with a financial professional, women can gain the insight they need to achieve financial security.”

Some two-thirds of respondents said financial information and the various investment options available to them could be overwhelming — a real handicap considering that their chief worries were running out of money in retirement and managing the rising costs of health insurance.

The study said having the right support could make a big difference. Thirty percent of women reported using a financial professional for guidance, and 75% of those regretted not having done this sooner.

Still, many women said they felt left out of the financial planning conversation. Fifty-one percent claimed that the professional treated their spouse or partner as the decision-maker — and this happened regardless of whether the advisor was male or female.

Researchers asked survey respondents, “What advice should women pass on to their daughters or granddaughters about money?”

Eighty-one percent advised to start planning early; 72% said not to depend on others for financial security; 72% advised to create a good financial plan; and 65% said to learn how to invest money.

In comparison, 56% of women advised their daughters or granddaughters to advocate for themselves at work to get the salary they deserve.

“As more financial responsibility lands on women’s shoulders, working women need to advocate for themselves to gain the equal earning power they deserve,” Libbe said. “Future generations of women who see this behavior will then be more confident to do the same, lessening the income disparity we see today.”

--- Check out More Debt for Gen X Means Less Retirement Savings: Allianz on ThinkAdvisor.

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