Women are increasingly engaging in the family finances beyond simply budgeting, but many still lack confidence when it comes to investing and routinely defer to their partners on important financial decisions, according to a report released Tuesday by Fidelity Investments.
Fidelity’s 2013 Couples Retirement Study analyzed retirement and financial expectations and preparedness among 808 couples who were at least 25 years old, married or in a long-term committed relationship and living with their respective partner, and had a minimum household income of $75,000 or at least $100,000 in investable assets.
The new study found that the number of women claiming primary responsibility for day-to-day financial decisions had jumped to 24%, up from 15% in 2011, and those claiming primary status for long-term retirement decisions more than doubled to 19% from 9% in 2011.
While 92% of couples agreed they communicated well and 81% described themselves as “one financial entity,” many women were more confident in their partners’ ability than their own in taking full financial responsibility of retirement decisions from a spouse if necessary.
Fifty-three percent of men were very confident in their own ability versus 45% of women, and 52% of women, in turn, were confident their “other half” could assume this role, versus 43% of men.
In an unexpected finding, younger women tended to be the most deferential of all, the report said.
These findings were echoed in other recent research that showed significant numbers of affluent women lacked confidence in their investment abilities.
“While a lot of progress has been made, it’s critical for women to empower themselves by becoming equal partners managing the family finances and in long-term financial planning conversations,” Kathleen Murphy, president of Personal Investing at Fidelity, said in a statement.
This is particularly the case given that the average woman can expect to outlive her male companion by almost five years, Murphy said.