What Women Investors Want From Advisors

August 06, 2015

The Differences: Fact or Fiction?
What needs to change? Assumptions, perhaps, are a good place to start. Women are different from men when it comes to investing, but as Ettinger jokingly puts it, it will take more to connect with a woman investor than merely "printing initiatives in pink ink."

Consider some of these often-heard assumptions about women as investors, and whether they hold water:

Women are less risk-tolerant than men when it comes to investing. They are more conservative.

Research shows that that's not entirely true, although it's not totally false either.

In a recent study looking at gender and investing, Julia Johnston-Ketterer, senior director at Cogent Reports, found that when compared with male counterparts, women who are primary decision-makers on their investments are just as risk-tolerant. They choose similar types of financial instruments; they show similar appetite for risk.

"We weren't expecting to have that outcome," Johnston-Ketterer told us. "Women investors who are on their own in terms of making financial decisions in many ways act like male counterparts who are primary decision-makers."

That tolerance for risk diminishes among women who share the decision-making responsibility with a partner. In a pair, they are more likely to be more conservative, she notes.

Source: Market Strategies International. Cogent Reports. Cogent Beat Investor, January-May 2015.

Women Do Not Invest Alike
But the debate about women's tolerance for risk isn't complete without taking into account the different segments within this group.

"Most of the studies in the industry look at women versus men, but statistically you cannot treat divorcees, executive women, widows and a married spouse the same because they have different priorities, different objectives, different interests," Ettinger said. "You've got to segment the market."


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