A new survey by YouGov found that men are more likely to value investing as their top financial priority. According to the survey, 62% of men say that investing is somewhat or very important to them, versus 55% of women.
This survey may be hot off the press, but its findings are nothing new. For years — even as the field of personal finance has expanded — men have been more likely to invest than women. Analysts may simply suggest that this scenario materializes because women are socialized to be opposed to risk and to be unassertive (whether this argument is true or untrue remains a matter of debate), but said concept also isn’t the whole story.
“Is it valid to state that women are not ‘as assertive’ about investing as men?” asked Jackie Ellisor Wiggins, JD, LLM, CLU, ChFC, of MassMutual. “The issue of women investing is complex and multi-layered.”
Investing Has Been a Male-Dominated Field of Interest, Historically
“Historically, the investment space has been male dominated,” Wiggins continued. “Finances and investments, from observation, have been a fluid discussion with respect to male gatherings, whether they are at work, sports or other types of functions. Investment and finances are not topics that organically flow in the context of work or social groups for women.”
Even as “times have changed,” the personal finance world remains largely off-limits to women and people of color. In 2021, 83% of certified financial planners were white and 77% were men, according to the CFP (certified financial planner) Board.
This is no coincidence. Women have been banished from the conversation of finance for eons. In many women this has resulted not only in a lack of know-how, but an insecurity.
“To a lot of women, investing is seen as something men are just innately ‘better’ at,” said Uchechi Kalu, a financial advisor at Abacus Wealth Partners. “I was at a dinner party recently where a brilliant woman who works in tech told me she defers all investments to her husband because she just ‘doesn’t get it.’ This is incredibly common.”
Ditch the Insecurity: Women Are Good at Investing
Perhaps the most interesting takeaway from these survey findings is that women are making solid investments — arguably at a higher rate than men.
“According to Betsy Moszeter, COO of Green Alpha Advisors, ‘As consumers and investors, women are changing the way society interacts with its money by consistently making more holistic decisions than men about how they spend, save and invest their money,'” said Leesa Childress Sluder, a senior financial advisor at Earth Equity Advisors. “She also notes that ‘female investors are nearly twice as likely as male investors to consider both rate of return and impact of their investment when making a decision (40% vs 23%).'”
It appears that confidence is key — and that confidence can be built, at least in part, via education.
“Once women feel educated on the matter, I find them to be ready and willing to invest,” said Lorrie Delk, a financial advisor at Allen & Company.
Let’s Get Educated
Obtaining or widening an education in personal finance is key for women to become more comfortable with investing.
“Read some books on saving for retirement. Meet with a financial advisor who has the heart of a teacher and will not only explain what they recommend you invest in, but why they recommend it,” Delk said. “I loved going through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. That knowledge applied to my family’s finances changed our lives, and ultimately led me to become a financial advisor.”
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