Mars and Venus may both be visible in the sky in early evening these days, but when it comes to investors, the two planets are almost at opposite poles, according to the latest survey of investor behavior by the Spectrem Group, a Lake Forest, IL investment consultancy.
Spectrem’s latest survey of 1150 investors finds that in the current market environment, 30% of men describe themselves as “aggressive” or “most aggressive” investors, compared to only 15% of women who describe themselves that way. Meanwhile, 23% of women describe themselves as “conservative” investors, compared to only 16% of men characterize themselves that way.
Among male investors, 12% say they plan to become even more aggressive in the current market environment, while only 8% of women say that.
Another difference between the sexes when it comes to investing is in the area of self-confidence. Three in 10 women say they are “not very knowledgeable” about investing, with 6% saying that they are “not at all knowledgeable. For men, it was 14%, or one in 7, who said they were “not very knowledgeable” about investing, with only 1% confessing to being “not at all knowledgeable.”
Given that self-described difference in confidence, it is probably no surprise that the survey also found that many more women tend to put their faith in a financial expert. Where 45% of men said that they rely primarily on independent research in making investment decisions, only 30% of women said they did this. Conversely, 44% of women said they rely on a financial advisor for their investment decision, while only 35% of men reported relying on a financial advisor. Only 1% of women said they rely on the advice of friends or family members, compared to 9% of men.
Tom Wynn, director of affluent research at Spectrem Group, said that some of the confidence expressed by men in the survey, and some of the claims of being “aggressive” could be “bluster,” but he adds, “That bluster could also reflect how these men are actually investing. We do find that men tend to be more aggressive in terms of their allocation to stocks and alternatives.”
Similarly with women, he said that some women may describe themselves as being more conservative than they actually are, but that over the years, he has found that they do tend to be more conservative, for instance favoring bonds over stocks in comparison to men.
“But remember,” he adds, “that many of the people responding to this survey, and many investors in general, are part of households.” This, he explains, means that for most male investors who say they are aggressive, there is a female partner who may be counseling a more conservative approach, just as for most female investors, there is a male partner who may be pressing for a more aggressive strategy.
“The financial advisor needs to take this into consideration in working with couples or families,” he says. He adds, “Particularly where it comes to talking to a couple, we have found that too often financial advisors will gear their advice to the man, which would be a big mistake!”
The Spectrem survey also found that women are significantly more likely to favor “environmentally responsible” and “socially responsible” investments over men, with 40% of women favoring these choices in their portfolios, compared to only 25% of men.