Only 31 percent of women use a financial professional, according to the survey.

Women in general are confident they are taking control of household finances and retirement planning, yet are no more prepared to make financial decisions than they were a decade ago. That’s according to a new study released by Prudential Financial, Inc.

Financial Experience & Behaviors Among Women,” the company’s eighth biennial study of women and money, showed that the economic stability and growth of the last few years has quelled some worries among women as to financial security. Still, they do not feel prepared to make important financial decisions, nor to seek the expertise of a financial advisor. 

According to the study:

  • Women feel more confident about their ability to manage day-to-day household finances, with nearly a third giving themselves an “A” for their knowledge of managing money (33 percent) and managing debt (29 percent).
  • Some 75 percent of women believe having enough money to maintain their lifestyle in retirement is very important, but only 14 percent are very confident they will be able to do this. This gap is virtually unchanged from 10 years ago.
  • Many women, 66 percent, say it’s very important to keep pace with rising health care costs, but only 9 percent are confident they will be able to.
  • Among married women who are their family’s primary breadwinner, 65 percent say they take the lead role in financial and retirement planning.

The report also found that although most women understand checking and savings accounts and life insurance “very” or “somewhat well,” only 38 percent understand mutual funds and 31 percent understand annuities “very” or “somewhat well.”

Even more shocking, only 31 percent of women use a financial professional, down from 48 percent in 2008. Why? It could be that women feel the financial services industry doesn’t understand their needs, while others question the industry’s ethics, according to the survey.

“These results all suggest women are gaining confidence in their ability to manage money,” said Lori Fouché, CEO of Prudential Group Insurance. “At the same time, it’s clear the financial services industry needs to start doing a better job reaching out to women and meeting their specific needs.” 

Forty-four percent of women are now the primary breadwinners for their family. Do you have any plans to target this underserved market?