What You Need to Know
- Today, women control more than 60% of personal wealth in the United States, amounting to more than $10.9 trillion in assets.
- There are 87 women billionaires in the United States and women serve as CEOs of more than three dozen Fortune 500 companies.
- Women want to work with advisors who respect them and the important roles they play as well as take the time to understand all aspects of the family enterprise.
Women’s lives and the opportunities available to them have progressed significantly over the past hundred years, which has meaningfully changed the calculus of how women consider their own roles vis-à-vis money, their families and their careers.
Today, women control a significant percentage of the world’s wealth (more than 60% of personal wealth in the United States, amounting to more than $10.9 trillion in assets).
There are 87 women billionaires in the United States (12% of the total) and women serve as CEOs of more than three dozen Fortune 500 companies, oversee many philanthropic programs and initiatives and play an increasing role in shaping the philosophies and priorities of future generations.
The Capgemini 2021 UNHW World Wealth Report noted that there are 114% more U.S.-based women entrepreneurs than 20 years earlier and that 40% of U.S. businesses are women-owned.
Women also contribute $7.6 trillion annually to U.S. GDP, but their contributions often are overlooked. Yet in many ultra-high-net-worth families, the roles of women still are hindered by long-standing conventions and complex intergenerational dynamics.
That’s something advisors would do well to keep in mind as women come to command more positions of power in government, corporations and family enterprises. Not surprisingly, women of wealth want to be treated fairly in relation to access and control of family wealth and want artificial barriers within the family removed.
These were just a few discoveries of my colleague Dennis Jaffe and I in researching the role women play in very wealthy families. Our goal was to help determine how they can be better served by financial advisors and family offices.
We weren’t interested in collecting impersonal data points, rather we conducted in-depth conversations with several dozen women of wealth who are leaders in their families, to understand their experiences and attitudes towards money. Some of our findings are summarized below.
What Do Women Want?
Above all, women want to work with advisors who respect them and the important roles they play. They demand that their advisors take the time to understand all aspects of the family enterprise, including its wealth structures and their financial implications along with the family and its dynamics that the wealth supports.
And they want to work with advisors who will empower them to make their own decisions. They don’t want to live in resentment of an advisors’ judgment of them, nor do they want to work with advisors who are interested in only discussing “the numbers” but won’t take the time to understand the bigger issues that impact wealthy families.
Today, the roles and opportunities of men and women are becoming more equal, but the reality is that men and women are different and tend to have distinct mindsets, concerns and operate differently from each other.
When this fundamental distinction is recognized and the client experience is uniquely designed to address their needs, women’s power and influence within families will increase, although their approach to acquiring these benefits will differ from that of their male counterparts.