Financial decision-making is also influenced by gender differences, according to psychology professor Paul Greenberg. Citing the work of Dr. Shelley Taylor, Greenberg said, “We know that the classic male stress response of fight or flight is different from the female stress response of tend and befriend.” For advisors in particular, he added, “We can see gender differences in the number of trades and risk aversion. Men can be more motivated by euphoria-driven behavior.”
Wealth psychology specialist and author Kathleen Burns Kingsbury brings together gender-related findings from a number of respected brain experts in “How to Give Financial Advice to Women: Attracting and Retaining High-Net-Worth Female Clients.” We were particularly interested in Kingsbury’s quotation from “The Female Brain” by neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine, M.D.: “Although male and female brains are 99% the same, the 1% gender difference in brain chemistry is evident in every cell of the body.”
Brizendine continued, “There is no unisex brain […]. Girls arrive already wired as girls, and boys arrive already wired as boys. Their brains are different by the time they’re born, and their brains are what drive their impulses, values and their reality.”
This difference is clear in male and female investors. Men measure success in terms of beating a benchmark or their friends. As Kingsbury put it, winning “makes their brains happy.” To women, investment success isn’t about winning or losing, but about meeting their life goals and objectives—in other words, surviving and thriving.