When it comes to male and female wealth, the scales are – to say the least – tipped towards the masculine. Certified wealth strategist Victoria Wilk looks at some of the causes of and solutions for this.
If the same investment products and sophisticated tax and estate planning strategies that are available to men are also available to women, why aren’t women learning how to protect, preserve, and grow their wealth? Women often say that they feel intimidated, frustrated, even paralyzed when thinking about seeking professional help with their personal finances. Stocks, bonds, ETFs, and alternative investments are gender-neutral, but the financial services industry maintains its sales and marketing, infrastructure, and leadership on a distinctly masculine business model.
This approach prevails despite a sizeable demographic shift in wealth patterns. While wealth used to be a largely male-dominated arena, women now control over 50 per cent of the country’s private wealth and investable assets. This rise in women’s economic power is represented in all demographics: seniors, boomers, Gen X and Gen Y. These women are single, married, divorced, and widowed; they have advanced degrees; they are professionals, business owners and inheritors of family wealth. It should go without saying that these affluent women have the desire and intellectual capacity to understand and manage their personal finances.
As a society and an industry, we have not effectively created an environment in which these women feel safe and welcomed. To engage women, we must recognise that they require a different style of communication, one that will quell her math anxiety and establish trust by playing to her intuitive strengths like the preference for a big-picture holistic approach to financial planning (a key difference from her male counterparts, who are more interested in chasing winning returns).
These characteristics will promote confidence and motivate her to leverage her economic power to re-shape the financial landscape into more integrative forms that address both genders. Women and men must work together to co-create a more engaging, woman-friendly business model. If we are to maintain an empowering wealth environment, institutions, financial advisors, and investors must all apply pressure to the infrastructure so that it might accommodate this thriving demographic.