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9 in 10 Women Feel Unprepared for a Recession: Ellevest Survey

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What You Need to Know

  • A recent survey suggests women’s financial health is the worst it has been in the past five years,
  • Women’s top financial priority was supporting their family, while men prioritized saving for retirement.
  • Wealthy women are not exempt when it comes to feeling financial stress.

Women’s financial health is currently in a bad place, according to new research from Ellevest, a wealthtech firm aimed at women.

Money is women’s chief source of stress, according to the findings. Fifty-nine percent of women say they worry about money more than once a week, and 43% worry about it at least once a day, compared with 53% and 36% of men who have similar anxiety. Only 14% of women say they feel prepared for a recession.

The typical woman’s financial health is the worst it has been in the past five years, according to Ellevest’s head data scientist, Kate Sullivan. It worsened during the pandemic — primarily because of employment levels — but rebounded relatively quickly as the labor market recovered and access to paid family leave began to expand.

“Since then, however, it’s been driven further down, as high inflation impacts her spending power and the overturning of Roe v. Wade clouds her economic future,” Sullivan said. “No wonder consumer confidence has been falling, even as women return to the workforce.”

The research findings are based on data from Ellevest’s new women’s financial health index and from its second annual financial wellness survey.

“Our goal is to comprehensively capture the state of women’s financial health, through both survey insights and quantifiable data,” the firm’s chief executive and co-founder Sallie Krawcheck said in a statement.

“The truth is that it’s difficult to change what you don’t measure. This work places gender-based financial inequities squarely in focus, as well as shows a path forward.”

The index is constructed from several quantifiable factors that affect women’s financial health, including the gender pay gap, inflation, student loan debt, paid family leave, reproductive rights, women in leadership, consumer confidence and student loan debt. It also includes proprietary insights from Ellevest’s business, including trends in recurring deposits by women and share of investments going into impact investing.

Women’s Financial Priorities

Censuswide conducted a survey on Ellevest’s behalf between Aug. 5 and Aug. 15 among 2,487 adults in the U.S.

The survey found stark differences between men’s and women’s top financial priorities. For men, the top priority was growing retirement savings, with supporting family ranked fourth. Women’s top financial priority was supporting their family, while retirement was fourth.

Sixty-two percent of female respondents said climate change is one of their top financial concerns. This compared with 51% of women who cited retirement planning, 46% credit card debt, 38% the stock market and 30% child care costs.

According to the survey, women are roughly half as likely as men to invest, and just 30% of women said they have met with a financial advisor or planner. When women do invest, however, they make many of the right moves.

Only 38% reported feeling concerned about market volatility, compared to 58% of men — which explains why more men than women have paused their retirement contributions and withdrawn money from the stock market, Ellevest said.

The survey further found that women expect more from their employers. Forty-four percent of the overall female sample — and 56% of millennial women — said they would leave their current company if its values on reproductive rights did not align with their own.

One survey finding may come as a surprise. Wealthy women are not exempt when it comes to feeling financial stress. Three-quarters of women in the poll who make more than $250,000 in annual income said they do not feel in control of their money.


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