Advising, man and women

A recent report that highlights differences between men and women when it comes to investing seems to raise as many questions as it answers.

Mylo Financial Technologies finds that women’s financial goals are 52% smaller than men’s: on average, women’s financial goal value is $24,842, compared to $47,810 for men.

The reason for the discrepancy doesn’t seem to be based in what women’s financial goals are, because the top-three savings goals for both women and men are the same—saving, travel and paying for a home.

Mylo says its analysis didn’t compare income level to goal value, “so it is unclear if the disparity in goal-setting between women and men is a reflection of the widely reported gender wage gap. It’s also possible that men simply set more ambitious (or perhaps less realistic) financial goals,” the report says.

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The report doesn’t address whether women and men in the survey are married or have children, which could also affect financial goals.

A number of surveys about a gender gap related to finance have been released this week ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8. One for the Financial Planning Standards Council found that most women struggle with at least one financial issue, while another from Vancity credit union said women in British Columbia worry more about their finances than men do.

Like math, investing is hard?

Mylo also finds that women were more likely to self-report that they know nothing about investing (50% of women compared to 28% of men).

In the report, Mylo says, “It would be interesting to compare this self-assessment with knowledge-based questions to determine whether women are accurately judging their own investment knowledge, or are simply more modest about their knowledge than men.”

Read: Where advisors can fill the gaps for women clients

Men and women had closer results when it came to admitting to being a beginner in investment knowledge, with 42% of women and 49% of men self-reporting as novices.

Only 8% of women said they were ” knowledgeable” or “an expert” in investing, whereas 25% of men self-reported these same claims.

Read: It’s not hard to stump Canadians with financial terms

Practise safe saving?

The report also indicates that women favour safe investment strategies, with 40% choosing income-generating strategies (women were about half as likely as men to select a high-risk strategy).

Mylo founder and CEO Philip Barrar said in a note accompanying the survey that women’s reluctance to take on riskier investments means they’re “less likely to grow their invested wealth at the same pace as men over time.”

Another recent survey found a different outcome, though. A survey released by Fidelity Investments last year found that women earn on average an annual rate of return of 6.4%, versus 6.0% for men. Women also save more of their salary annually (9% for women versus 8.6% for men).

Here are other strategy highlights from the Mylo report, which reinforce the view of women’s risk tolerance:

  • A quarter of women (26%) said they would either sell some or all of their investments if investment value fell, while only 16% of men would do the same.
  • Only 15% of women would buy more if investments fell in value, compared to 33% of men.

For full details, read the Mylo report.

About the report: Mylo app users were asked a standard set of KYC questions to learn more about their financial goals, investment knowledge and risk tolerance. Milo looked at how an anonymized, random sampling of more than 15,000 users answered these questions to learn about their approach to investing. For the analysis of financial goals, Mylo looked at data from a random sampling of more than 30,000 Mylo users.

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