Industry Spotlight > Women in Wealth

Challenge of the Sexes: Big Differences on Financial Planning

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

Gender differences influence how women and men approach financial decision making and succession planning, according to a new white paper released by Barclays Wealth Female Client Group.

The survey, which questioned more than 2,000 high-net-worth individuals across Europe, North America, South America, the Middle East and Asia/Pacific, found important distinctions in how men and women approach financial decisions:

  • Women have a notably different attitude toward risk taking than men. Women in the survey were more risk averse than men, adding what Barclays called “an essential counterbalance” to male views on risk in both the household and business domain.
  • Women were likelier than men to want greater discipline when it came to their finances–whether saving more, devoting more time to researching investments and pensions or just following through with well-laid financial plans. Barclays said this was a call for wealth managers to help female clients develop strategies to meet their goals and diffuse the nagging desire to be more disciplined.
  • Wealth managers can help clients achieve more discipline with their finances through the use of self-control strategies–for example, spending only out of income and never capital . Barclays said women show more interest than men in testing such strategies, rating them as having more potential to be effective.
  • Male and female investors find different types of financial strategies appealing. The study revealed that although women often express lower confidence about their financial expertise, that did not necessarily mean they wanted to delegate decision making to an investment manager; indeed, they were less likely than men to use other people to help them reach their financial goals.

The study, “Understanding the Female Economy: The Role of Gender in Financial Decision Making and Succession Planning for the Next Generation,” also found that men and women approach succession planning in starkly different ways:

  • Women in the study were more likely to leave inheritance planning to male family members. They were less likely to call succession planning a priority or consider it important to leave a financial legacy when they died.
  • In line with their being less preoccupied with inheritance planning, fewer women than men had a will.
  • Women across the world express their wishes for how their wealth is transferred in very different ways. While most women surveyed in the U.S. and a big majority in Europe had a will, only half in Latin America and just a third in Asia did. Barclays acknowledged that a will is not the only succession planning tool and may account for some of the shortfall.

Ledbury Research conducted the research on behalf of Barclays Wealth in January and February 2011. The participants all had more than $1.6 million (or equivalent) in investable assets and 200 had more than $16 million.