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Among Canadian women who hold investments, almost all (92%) say they’re either the primary or joint financial decision-makers in their households, finds a poll by CIBC. Further, more than half (54%) say they feel confident about investing.

So far, so good. But what if that confidence is erroneously grounded in portfolios that are too conservative?

For example, the poll reveals that almost three-quarters of women investors (72%) identify safety as being very important to them when it comes to their investment portfolios, versus 58% who say growth is important. A full third (33%) want liquidity.

While it’s certainly possible investors in general might say safety is a priority for their investments, that sentiment is potentially cause for concern when it comes to women, in particular.

That’s because the poll reveals almost half of women investors with a retirement portfolio invest mostly in GICs, savings accounts or other guaranteed investments (48%). Only 37% invest in stocks, including mutual funds. (Bonds are held by 14%.)

Further, 55% say their future investment plans involve guaranteed and savings products, versus 29% who plan to invest in stocks.

As a result, not only do women face a wage gap during their working years, they potentially face an enduring income gap in retirement. Add to the mix longer life expectancies, and women’s portfolios might need an overhaul.

The poll reveals further insight specific to women investors that’s helpful for advisors to know: 70% say volatility makes them nervous, and 69% prefer socially responsible investments.

Investing: the new math?

Predictably, the poll finds millennial women (aged 18 to 34) are twice as likely as older women to manage investments themselves through an online or discount broker. But 76% of millennials say they find “investing confusing.” Of all women polled, 65% agree with that statement.

Read: How to help young women clients

If that finding makes your head hurt, what with its echoes of Barbie’s “math is hard” schtick, consider, once again, that it’s possible a poll of investors in general might confirm such a finding.

For their part, advisors should be clearing up the confusion, since a full 71% of women gen-Xers (aged 35 to 54) and 81% of women baby boomers (55 and older) have investments managed by advisors.

Also read:

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Originally published on Advisor.ca
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