Survey Says Women Increasingly Drive Financial Decisions

Why the Financial Balance of Power Is Shifting

Survey Says Women Increasingly Drive Financial Decisions
April 1, 2016

Empowerment of women continues to improve in most areas of modern life, and a recent survey conducted by Ameriprise Financial suggests that this is true for in the financial arena as well. A growing number of women are participating (and taking the lead) in family financial decisions.

3,515 women between the ages of 25 to 70 with $25,000 or more in investable assets were asked questions about their participation in financial decisions and their attitude about the process. In general, the survey found that women are increasingly engaging in the financial decisions that affect them, learning and adapting as they age, gaining confidence in handling financial decisions, and willing to pass their findings on to their daughters.

This last aspect is especially heartening, since the percentage that learn about finances from their parents is increasing by generation – from 43% of Baby Boomer women to 62% of Millennials.

As we might expect, as women get older and they and their spouses approach retirement, the perceived responsibility to comprehend their financial situation increases. 91% of Boomers, 84% of Generation X women and 80% of Millennials felt that way. Only 4% of the women surveyed said that they had no involvement in financial decisions.

It is also no surprise that older women are more likely to have a financial plan. 76% of Boomer women have a plan, compared to 54% and 57% for Generation X and Millennial women respectively. The lower number for Generation X women may be indicative of their stage in life – they are at the most hectic financial stage of life with respect to children, family, career building, and finances.

They are also experiencing more collective stresses, according to the survey. 42% of Generation X women experienced at least one of the following within the last five years: divorce, unemployment, paying for a child’s college education or experiencing a significant decline in assets. Only 29% of Boomers and 24% of Millennials had those same experiences.

Generation X women also seem less inclined to seek advice about financial matters, and to get more involved in their finances after some sort of negative financial experience. This suggests that financial counseling could go a long way toward putting harried Generation X women at ease, or at least that consulting with Boomer women who have been through many of the same steps can assure Generation X women that they can and will get through this stage.

The reasons why women are more involved differ by generation. Married Boomers are less likely to be the main decision maker on financial issues (11%) compared to married Generation X women (22%), who in turn are less likely than married Millennials (38%). However, married Millennials tend to “divide and conquer”, focusing on different financial decisions far more often than the older generations.

Millennial women also listed a preference for making these kinds of decisions. 41% of the Millennial women said they enjoyed making the financial decisions, compared to 25% and 23% of Generation X women and Boomers respectively. 50% of the Millennials also considered themselves more knowledgeable in finances than their partner.

In short, the younger Millennial generation is more interested in financial decisions, more confident when making them, and more likely to pass this knowledge on to their children – good news all around.

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