Women investors demand more from and are pickier about financial companies and advisors they work with than men, according to a new study by Hearts & Wallets. The study of more than 4,500 U.S. households nationwide found that women are 50 percent more likely to be concerned about making assets last throughout retirement or outliving their money.
The survey also found that this heightened level of concern extends to all retirement issues.
Fifty-six percent of women find retirement planning difficult, while only 51 percent of men feel the same way. Only 12 percent of women seek help with retirement planning and more than one-third of women feel moderate to high anxiety about their financial future. A much larger number of women, 41 percent, say they are very inexperienced with investing, compared to 27 percent of men. Only 15 percent of women have a good understanding of how their primary financial provider earns money, a key trust driver, as compared to 25 percent of men.
When shopping for a financial services provider, women look for low fees, fees that are clear and understandable and companies that explain things in terms they can understand.
“Many women are in a difficult position in terms of getting the financial advice and support they need. As a result, they may feel frustrated and be even more discerning than men in their selection of financial providers and advisors,” said Chris Brown, Hearts & Wallets principal. “Our study identified that women find several key financial tasks more difficult than men, notably retirement planning, and are getting less help with this task. More women than men also describe themselves as very inexperienced about investing and anxious about their financial future.”
Women prefer financial advisors that do not pressure them to buy products, are open and honest about their fees and compensation and are responsive.
The firms that meet women’s needs could be positioned for growth. The study found women tend to own fewer types of investment products than men and have higher allocations to bank products because of lower risk tolerance and lack of financial experience.
“Asset managers, broker-dealers, employer-sponsored plans and others can help women become more comfortable with asset categories that can lead to long-term wealth creation, a positive for both women and providers,” said Brown.
The study provides channel and company-specific benchmarks and offers detailed insights into women investors.
Hearts & Wallets was formed by two research experts in retirement market trends for the financial services industry, Chris J. Brown of Sway Research and Laura Varas of Mast Hill Consulting.