[This article originally appeared in our August issue of ETF Report.]
Women control more than $14 trillion in personal wealth. That number is projected to hit $22 trillion by 2021, and just about every woman—95% of women, to be exact—will at some point be the primary financial decision-makers in their families.
These are some of the astonishing statistics Heather Ettinger, managing partner at Fairport Asset Management, and Eileen O'Connor, vice president at McLean Asset Management, uncovered in a comprehensive 2011 study on the issue of women and investing.
"Women Of Wealth: Why Does the Financial Services Industry Still Not Hear Them?" is an eye-opening document about the opportunity women as investors represent, and the disconnect between what they seek and what the financial industry is willing to offer them.
"Women are the largest emerging market on the planet," Ettinger told us. "They are already the breadwinners or co-breadwinners in two-thirds of American households."
Ignore At Your Peril
"This is one of those markets that, if you don't pay attention, it's going to run you right over," she said. "It's not going away. If anything, it's growing."
Much like race, gender is a topic most find best avoided altogether. But in an era where the traditional advisory business model is increasingly challenged by new technologies and generational shifts in financial advice needs, neglecting to talk about gender differences—and to cater to this massive market—is just plain bad business.
There's no sugarcoating this: Seven out of 10 women today say they are dissatisfied with their financial advisor and the advice they get. Most women say they feel disrespected and talked down to by their financial professional based on their gender alone. The majority of women change advisors in the event of a spouse's death.
And yet, by 2030, women will control as much as two-thirds of the nation's wealth, according to Ettinger and O'Connor's study. They are earning the money; they are deciding how it is invested and spent; and women are starting to demand change.