More and more attention is being paid to women investors as financial services firms consider the best ways to help them make the most of their money. One recent survey found that women investors outperformed male investors last year.
The results of that survey are even more interesting in light of another group of recent surveys that indicates the financial services industry isn’t helping women as well as it could.
Women investors want to retire comfortably
Bank of New York Mellon subsidiary Pershing conducted a survey earlier this month to gain a better understanding of women investors and their unique needs and wants. Perhaps unsurprisingly, their top priority is the same as it is for men, which is to retire comfortably.
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The second two priorities are also the same, which are maintaining their current lifestyle and covering healthcare costs. Here are all the important financial goals of women and how they stack up to men by the percentage of them who list each goal as a priority, according to the study (all graphs in this article are courtesy Pershing):
Interestingly, less than half of both men and women are confident that they will reach these goals.
Do women investors like their financial advisors?
A survey commissioned by Pershing and conducted by Harris Poll found that 72% of women are very satisfied with their financial advisors. However, women were more likely than men to want to see improvements in their advisors’ “soft skills.”
Women were more interested than men in getting their advisors to understand their goals, listen to their needs and answer their questions. They were also less likely than men to suggest that their financial advisors could choose better-performing investments, with 27% of women seeing room for improvement compared to 36% of men.
Pershing management speculates that this disconnect between what women want to see in an advisor and what they’re getting may be one reason 35% of women who don’t use a financial advisors said they don’t trust advisors to work in their interests.
Almost half of women investors said they didn’t see the need to change anything about their financial advisors. Also 58% of survey participants said they would rather handle their investments on their own. However, that’s still less than the 70% of men who would rather go it alone.
Women have different challenges than men
Pershing also found a number of challenges women face that affect men less. For example, women tend to live longer, with those who live to the age of 65 living on average 2.3 years longer than a man who reaches the same age. Also women tend to earn one-third less than men during their working years and may take some time off to take care of children or elderly parents, leaving some gaps in their employment.
Women also usually have lower account balances than men and higher medical costs due to chronic or terminal illnesses. Also 80% of women will be single in their last years, which results in a higher tax rate.
Women investors are becoming less aggressive
Another survey conducted in 2014 by Sullivan and Northstar Research Partners found that almost half of women say their risk tolerance is either very or somewhat conservative. While that statistic has held fairly steady since 2011, the percentage of women who said they are somewhat or very aggressive has declined significantly since 2009.