Spend less time on your finances, and feel more satisfied about how they’re being handled. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Such is the situation for a growing number of upper-income women, according to the CFP Board’s 2002 Consumer Survey, which was released on October 22. The survey was conducted by Market Facts from October 23 to November 19, 2001, and surveyed 996 upper-income households across the country (“upper-income” ranged from $60,000 and above to $85,000 and above, depending on the respondent’s age). In 2001, women who were responsible for household finances spent 3.86 hours per month handling those duties, down from 4.86 hours per month in 1999. What’s more, 44% of women in 2001 were satisfied with how they handle their financial affairs, up from 36% in 1999. Given that the number of women employing the services of a planner has also increased (42% of women in 2001, versus 36% in 1999), the report suggests that women may be more satisfied with the handling of their financial affairs because they are being managed by a professional.

As for men, they were more confident than women in both 1999 and 2001 about their ability to manage their finances themselves, and in both years, a majority of men said that they thought they were “more knowledgeable than most of [their] friends” about personal finance. More men than women reported that they enjoy planning and thinking about financial matters (46% of men versus 31% of women, in 2001), and nearly half of all men reported using the Internet as a source for financial information, while less than a third of women reported doing so.

But Rick Adkins, chair-elect of the CFP Board’s governing body and a planner with Arkansas Financial Group in Little Rock, Arkansas, thinks the financial confidence of do-it-yourselfer men has been shaken in the past year. “I would almost bet that some of the men’s tendencies have changed in the last year [since the survey was taken],” he says. “The heavy do-it-yourself use of the Internet got a lot of people into trouble. We had some clients back in the late ’90s who decided to go it alone and manage their portfolios themselves, and we’ve had a number of them come back to us in the last six months, saying, ‘This is a lot tougher than I thought it was.’” Sometimes it’s hard for prodigal clients to return and give back the reins, he says, “but with the events of the past year, we’ve seen a number of males who decided that they didn’t really want the control they thought they wanted.”

Highlights of the CFP Board’s 2002 Consumer Survey are available at www.cfp-board.org/2002survey.html.