Two-thirds of the world’s wealth will be held by women by 2030, estimates say. While men still make most of the investing decisions, women continue to narrow the gap. In 2008, women controlled about 23% of the world’s wealth on average. By 2009, that number had grown to 27%, with $20 trillion worldwide in the hands of women in the form of cash, money market deposits, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other marketable investments.
But in a world-wide Boston Consulting Group study, these wealthy women made clear that they aren’t happy with the status quo. Of all the industries affecting their daily lives, they said they were most dissatisfied with the financial services industry in terms of service and product offerings.
Many say they are still treated like “second-class citizens”when it comes to managing their money. When surveyed by Boston Consulting Group, women reported their perception that “men get more attention, better advice, and sometimes even better terms and deals” from advisors and male-dominated financial institutions.
Many complain their advisors assume women automatically have a low risk tolerance, and provide only a narrow range of investment solutions deemed more suitable for their sex. Others report that they are not taken seriously, or are offered “dumbed down” offerings and explanations. Some feel their advisers focus too much on short-term performance, and not enough on their long-term objectives and lifestyle goals.
A 2011 survey by the Family Wealth Advisors Council confirmed these findings. Women of wealth (with more than $1 million of investable assets) echoed dissatisfaction with the way they are treated, saying they sense “disrespect and condescension” from the financial advisors that serve them.
So what’s the solution for women in charge of their own finances?
Select a woman advisor. Many women prefer working with women advisors, who they feel often have a better understanding of their experiences, wants and needs. However, women financial advisors are still a minority in the industry. In February 2012, less than 25% of the Certified Financial Planner licensees in the U.S. were women.
Insist on education. Women investors place a premium on understanding their choices and learning more about saving, investing and the gamut of financial issues affecting them. Your advisor should take the time to explain your options so that you can make an informed decision, understanding desired outcomes and possible consequences.
Take a broad view. Your money is about more than just investments. To put you in control of your financial life, your money dialogue with your advisor may need to encompass your household finances, your job, your children and other family members, your partner, and those long-term goals defining what you “really want to do with the rest of your life.” You can’t address your money in a vacuum, and all those other factors come into play as you chart your financial future.
Communicate openly. Regardless of gender, make sure your advisor understands your money goals, communicates in terms you understand, explains all the options, and suggests a strategy you are comfortable with. You should be treated with respect as an equal partner. After all, it’s your money and your future that’s at stake.