A recent poll by UBS of 3,652 women around the world found the majority continue to defer the financial decision-making process to their spouse. There were over 2,200 married women with at least $1 million of investable assets included in the study. Of those polled, 54% said their spouses take the lead in handling the family's finances. Beyond basic bill paying, these women did not participate in the family's long-term financial planning, investment or healthcare decisions.
In today's world of enlightenment and gender equality, these findings are surprising. The study found that many women step aside because they feel that their partner knows more about financial issues AND because they are simply not interested in these financial topics. These gender differentials are surprisingly even happening at younger ages, as the survey showed that 59% of women ages 20 to 34 years old let their husbands take the lead on financial issues.
While this study focused on issues related to women who were not involved or engaged in the financial process, don't be fooled. I have sat across the table from widowers or recently divorced men whose wives had handled the family financial issues and responsibilities. They seemed helpless when their spouse was no longer there to take care of things. Studies have shown that nearly two-thirds of the money that will transfer via inheritance over the next 20 years will go to women. As more women earn and inherit wealth and take the lead in financial decision making, I believe this situation will only become more prevalent in the future.
We know from a societal standpoint that there is a significant gap in basic financial literacy and education. This is irrespective of gender. The financial planning industry is strongly advocating for the opportunity to provide help for this within our educational system.
At Impel Wealth Management, we believe that financial decision making is best handled when both spouses are involved. The meetings that we have with our clients on a semi-annual basis provide a forum for discussions that generally do not happen during the busyness of everyday life. We think it is imperative that both voices are heard and taken into consideration in the decision-making process. This generally leads to better outcomes for the family and a better understanding of where they are going as they keep "Moving Life Forward" together.