Women are increasingly taking on more responsibility for their families and finances, but many feel uncomfortable with this role, according to a study of female breadwinners released Tuesday by the Family Wealth Advisors Council, a national network of independent, fee-only wealth management firms.
They are also looking for sound financial advice — and many feel they are not getting it.
“The women overall gave their advisor an average of ‘5’ on a satisfaction scale of 1 to 10,” Heather Ettinger, a co-author of the study, said in the statement. “That’s a horrible grade.”
The FWAC Breadwinner Study comprised 1,074 women who were personally invited to participate by an FWAC member or a professional working closely with a member firm.
FWAC defined “breadwinners” as women who contributed at least 25% of household income. Of the 1,074 women surveyed, 95% fit this definition. Seventy-three percent were primary breadwinners, contributing at least half of household income, including 32% who were sole breadwinners.
Respondents spanned the income spectrum, with 44% earning more than $151,000 a year. Sixty-eight percent said their total household net worth was at least $500,000.
Forty percent of the women surveyed reported that they felt pressure from family and friends to downplay their role as an earner, and 28% of married or committed women said their parents would disapprove of them being the primary breadwinner.
“Women are increasingly controlling more of the nation’s wealth, and the rise of the breadwinner woman is causing seismic shifts in our families, our communities and our marketplace,” Eileen O’Connor, co-author of the study, said in a statement.
“And although pressure could cause women to ‘lean back’ from major financial decisions, the opposite is happening in that they are ‘leaning in,’ making sound financial advice even more important.”
O’Connor said the tension women felt was often more intense for those who had become the primary breadwinner out of necessity.
“The Great Recession exacerbated things, as many men either couldn’t get back into the work force or couldn’t get back at the same level,” she said. “That just added to the stress for the woman.”
The report from FWAC, whose members collectively manage more than $3 billion in assets, noted that women were the primary breadwinner in four of 10 American families, and 95% of women would be their family’s principal financial decision maker at some point in their lives.
At present, the report said, breadwinner women were responsible for at least three-quarters of all financial-planning responsibilities in their households.
Moreover, they took on as much as 90% of the responsibility for charitable giving, paying for college, retirement planning and overall saving.
Participants were drawn from 38 states and the District of Columbia, and several from Singapore, China and Australia. Although they reflected a wide age range, most of the participants were in their 40s and 50s, and half had children.