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Industry Spotlight > Women in Wealth

HNW Women Use Their Wealth to Improve the World

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A new study by RBC Wealth Management in partnership with The Economist Intelligence Unit finds that women have not only made major strides in creating their own wealth, but are also using their wealth to support their communities and create opportunities for others.

The study examined the top factors that have contributed to the growing number of high-net-worth women, and looked at how these women are leveraging their wealth to make a positive societal impact.

The EIU conducted a survey in the spring among 1,051 high-net-worth individuals across the U.S., Canada, the U.K., China, Hong Kong and Singapore. The poll included 365 respondents in the U.S. with at least $1 million in investable assets.

According to the survey, six of 10 wealthy female U.S. respondents said better education, investments and new technologies were the main factors that helped them to generate their wealth. About half cited greater access to information and more than a third openness to entrepreneurship.

More than 60% of the richest U.S. women in the survey, those with $5 million or more of investable assets, reported that they were the primary decision makers in their households on financial planning, legacy planning and charitable giving, compared with less than half of women with between $1 million and $5 million in assets.

Women in this top wealth bracket most often cited the ability to make the greatest impact as the key factor influencing their charitable giving decisions, while their male counterparts cited tax benefits.

Women in the Gen X and millennial generations are taking the lead in deploying their wealth for the greater good, according to the survey.

Forty-three percent of younger wealthy women said they were aligning their spending with the causes they cared about, compared with 33% of women in the boomer and older generations. Nineteen percent were similarly aligning their investments with their giving goals, compared with 17% of older women.

A big generation gap showed up around impact investing as well, with 58% of younger women considering it a form of giving, versus only 38% of older women who said this.

Among Gen X and millennial high-net-worth women in the U.S., 63% maintained that societal causes had become more important to them than accumulating wealth in defining their legacy. Forty percent of older women agreed.

Forty-four percent of the younger cohort said they planned to distribute their wealth during their lifetimes, compared with just 16% of the boomer and older generations.

The survey found that the charitable causes rich American women favored also varied by generation. Older women favored education, environment and nature, health and health care, poverty reduction, and religious or spiritual causes.

Younger ones focused on animal rights and welfare, health and health care, diversity and inclusion, environment and nature, and human rights.


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