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Women Unprepared to Inherit Wealth or Pass It On: Survey

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Women play an outsize roll in their families’ finances, yet a majority of them are unprepared to give or receive wealth, new research by RBC Wealth Management shows.

In a survey released this week, 98% of women said they were the sole or joint decision maker for banking and 84% held joint or full responsibility for family investments.

The research also showed that inheritors are generally unprepared, uninformed and unsupported, women somewhat more so than men.

Only 29% of women surveyed had received guidance from benefactors on how to use inherited assets, compared with 37% of men. And just 22% of women said they had a full wealth transfer strategy in place, compared with 30% of men.

These findings are important because women, for a variety of reasons, will receive the majority of the estimated $3.2 trillion that will transfer to the next generation in the U.S. in coming years, according to the report.

“Women are becoming an economic powerhouse in the U.S.,” Angie O’Leary, head of wealth planning at RBC Wealth Management — U.S., said in a statement. “A growing number are moving into the corporate executive ranks while others are starting their own businesses.

“Couple that trend with the fact that women, on average, live longer than men, and you can see how women are both creating and controlling more wealth than ever before. As such, it is important that they have wealth transfer discussions with their benefactors and have a solid wealth transfer plan in place.”

The research, conducted from June to August 2016, received responses from 3,105 wealthy individuals living in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., including 1,752 women who had an average net worth of $4.4 million. These included professionals, retirees and business owners, as well as givers and recipients of wealth.

Fidelity Investments recently reported that American families may be less prepared than they think with regard to discussing estate plans and leaving a legacy.

UBS has introduced a toolkit to help well-to-do families transfer wealth to the next generation.

Teach the Children

Women also play a critical role in the transfer of wealth and knowledge to the next generation, according to RBC Wealth Management’s research. 

Women in the survey said they intended to start educating the next generation at an earlier age than men across all areas of money management — day-to-day budgeting, at 17 years vs. 19 years; investment strategy, at 20 vs. 21; and wealth transfer, at 24 vs. 26.

“The most effective way to teach children is to start early and with the basics,” O’Leary said. “By bringing children into conversations about money and wealth at an early age, parents are actively instilling good financial values in their children, arming them with the mindset for financial success.”

Efforts to teach children about financial matters earlier were paying off, particularly for millennial women, according to the survey. Fifty-one percent of female millennials described themselves as confident in matters of wealth.

The research showed that women employ a more collaborative path to building financial acumen. Fifty-five percent of female respondents said they turned to knowledgeable individuals to build knowledge, compared with 47% of men.

Moreover, only 50% of women cited independent research as a preferred method of building financial literacy, vs. 64% of men, and just 36% of women said they managed their own investments to improve financial knowledge, compared with 49% of men.

In other findings, only 27% of the women surveyed said they intended to pass on their wealth to the next generation during their lifetime, compared with 32% of men.

Of those women who said they would give to their heirs while living, 27% said they would do so to help them achieve their ambitions more immediately.

Among the 57% of female respondents who said they would pass on their wealth only upon death or illness, 27% said they feared running out of money, compared with 18% of men who expressed this concern.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute recently reported that Americans’ expectations of what they will need to retire are at odds with the financial reality.

— Check out Millennials Faster to Move Money, Slower to Take Advice on ThinkAdvisor.

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