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Industry Spotlight > Women in Wealth

Female primary decision-makers in the minority

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Most American couples share equally in making financial and wealth management decisions, but they do not divide investing responsibilities equally.

So concludes a UBS Investor Watch report, “Couples and money: Who Decides.” For this seventh edition, UBS Investor Watch polled 2,595 U.S investors who identified as being married or living together.

The research indicates that nearly all American couples (99 percent of men and 92 percent of women) make or share in making household financial decisions. But comparatively small percentages of women — 15 percent among Millennials and 18 percent of Gen Xers  — make investment decisions. Most delegate these decisions to their male spouses or partners.

The report also observes that women are less risk-tolerant than men. Also, men and women expect different results from investing:

  • Men are more likely to aim to beat or track the market (51 percent of men vs. 39 percent of women);
  • Women are more likely to be happy with a small guaranteed rate of return, even if the yield underperforms that of the market (32 percent of women vs. 28 percent of men);
  • Women focus more on progress toward financial goals than on comparing their investment performance to that of the market (29 percent of women versus 21 percent of men);
  • Women hold 29 percent of their assets in cash compared to men, who hold 22 percent;
  • If given additional money, men are more likely to say they would invest it immediately or hold for an investment opportunity (51 percent of men vs. 41 percent of women); and
  • Women are more likely to pay off debt or increase savings (44 percent of women vs. 35 percent of men).

The report adds that women who serve as the primary decision-maker in their household are a minority at just 16 percent of all couples. And though the primary decision-maker, only 34 percent of woman-led couples include a female bread-winner. Nearly half (48 percent) of these couples have a male breadwinner.

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