Many women remain tight-lipped about their money problems because they’re “too personal,” according to a new study from financial services firm Fidelity Investments.
That’s really holding them back, says Fidelity president of personal investing Kathleen Murphy:
Beneath women’s reticence to talk about money lies a lack of confidence in their knowledge of financial planning and investing. This confidence-gap is really unwarranted. Studies show that women actually demonstrate stronger saving rates than their male counterparts and have historically enjoyed better long term investment performance when they do engage.
Fidelity, of course, would love more female customers, so it’s interested in learning what women are so scared of. In the company’s survey of more than 1,500 women, the top reasons for not getting involved in financial planning were…
- They haven’t researched their options (37 percent)
- They lack experience and haven’t done much with their finances in the past (36 percent)
- They don’t know who to talk to in order to get the best advice (36 percent)
The findings are self-serving, but also kind of empowering — they show women are more financially capable than they think, but still have some obstacles to overcome. Here are the details…
1. Women are good savers
Three out of four women are “proactively saving for the future,” Fidelity found. Women also contribute more of their salaries toward an employee-sponsored retirement plan than their male counterparts, especially in the fields of health care and higher education. But most (60 percent) still worry about having enough savings to last through retirement — which may be because they shy away from investing.
2. Women want to learn how to invest
Three quarters (75 percent) of women want to learn more about money and investing, and 83 percent want to get more involved in finances within the next year.
Fidelity points out it holds workshops across the country to teach women about building budgets and learning to invest.
3. Women chat with their friends about everything — except money
Fidelity found that 46 percent talk about parenting, 44 percent discuss work issues, 43 percent discuss their health, 40 percent discuss politics — and then there’s a huge drop when it comes to money. Just 11 percent discuss salary, and 17 percent discuss investments with their friends.
“Just like going to the gym, unpleasant tasks can be made more fun with a friend,” Fidelity says. The company suggests finding a money buddy who can help keep you accountable and moving toward your goals.
4. Women are more comfortable discussing medical issues with a doctor than finances with their partners
About 77 percent of women are confident discussing their health with a doctor, while less than half say they are confident talking about money and investments with a financial professional. Meanwhile, eight out of 10 confessed to avoiding a financial discussion with loved ones at some point.
A quarter of women would be more motivated to learn about finances if they knew their spouses supported their financial decisions. Maybe if women start talking to each other about money, they’ll get comfortable enough to talk to their spouses — and then we can all learn and earn a little more.