The perception that women take a generally take a less proactive role than men do in managing personal finances and planning needs, a view widely held among financial professionals, is not universally shared.
At least that’s not the case among those who cater to women holding power and wealth: female business owners, corporate executives and the affluent. One such advisor is Julie Murphy Casserly, president of Chicago-based JMC Wealth Management, Inc.
“In terms of retirement preparedness, the women I serve are much more prepared than the men are,” says Casserly. “They’re bigger savers and planners. If a couple comes to me, usually the wife is dragging along her husband.”
The gender gap often predates marriage. Whereas, observes Casserly, men generally don’t think about saving until after they tie the knot, women have “been doing it all along,” giving them a 10- to 15-year head start on their husbands-to-be.
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Advisors who find the reverse to be true—that women are behind their male counterparts in financial preparedness—are largely serving stay-at-home moms who generate little or no income and don’t handle the bills, Casserly says.
Casserly is not alone in observing a growing equality between men and women in the financial sphere. BMO Nesbitt Burns, a Toronto, Ont.-based unit of BMO Financial Group, reported last month that 82% of 1,500 Canadian women the company surveyed are either the primary decision-maker or have equal responsibility for household financial decisions.
The trend towards financial parity, sources told me, is most notable among young women who don’t feel bound by the gender-specific roles to which their parents or grandparents adhered. Cornerstone Financial Group’s Marti Johnson says she observes a “gradual trend towards financial competency” among younger women.
That progress is not uniform. Casserly notes a lag in financial acuity among affluent African-American clients. Those who hail from the formerly Communist East European nations, by contrast, tend to be more financially oriented.