“Based on these findings, it is important for financial advisors to recognize that women may be looking for different investment strategies or have a different set of financial concerns that deserve consideration,” Alexandra Taussig, senior vice president of Fidelity National Financial, said in a statement.
The Fidelity Millionaire Outlook study surveyed a group of married men and women who are the sole financial decision makers in their households and have investable assets of at least $1 million. The study, conducted in March 2012, showed that these women tend to be more conservative in their overall investment holdings and added more conservative instruments over the previous 12 months.
The most owned investments by men were domestic individual stocks (84%) while for women, domestic stock mutual funds were the most owned investments (64%). Meanwhile, the most added investments were domestic individual stocks for men (29%) compared to cash equivalent investments for women (24%).
According to the study, women also reported feeling less bullish about the market and less wealthy than men, offering possible insights into their greater risk aversion.
The study showed millionaire women tended to be more interested in holistic financial planning while men reported a greater focus on investment returns. While 50% of men were interested in investment returns, only 26% of women reported that sentiment. On the other hand, 41% of women were focused on holistic financial guidance and planning for a specific goal, compared to only 23% of men.
Finally, the research indicated that women tended to be open to working with financial advisors. Forty-four percent said they needed professional financial advice more than in the past and 49% who didn’t already work with an advisor said they would like to find an advisor they trust to manage their assets.
“We’re looking at this and thinking, how can we really take an active role with our advisors and help them address this issue of the $2 trillion that’s in motion that women will have,” said Jylanne Dunne, senior vice president of practice management of Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services, referring to Fidelity’s research and a 2009 Boston Consulting Group study projected figure for the transfer of wealth to women.
As part of Fidelity’s effort to aid advisors with engagement strategies, this week Fidelity also released a new whitepaper on engaging wives to drive growth with married couples, and developed a guidebook and hosted an event in Boston on engaging women clients..
Meg Kelleher, executive vice president of Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services noted how important it is for advisors to include both spouses in planning for married clients. “With approximately $2 trillion in motion each year due to divorce and death, the reality is that your married clients could become single clients,” she said in a statement. “Involving both spouses in planning gives both partners the skills to manage financially through a transition and can help protect your client relationships.”
That said, there are different views on how strictly advisors should adhere to this idea, Dunne said. “Some advisors said they won’t even meet with the husband if they wife doesn’t come,” she said.
Despite some of these differences between genders regarding investment and financial planning, all clients would benefit from engaged advisors, Dunne pointed out.
“Gender is an issue, but engagement overall is an issue,” Dunne said. “You really need to be having conversations with all of your clients and making sure that you understand their strategies and that your solutions are aligned with their strategies.”