Some recent studies seem to suggest that woman have the right skills and attitude to be great in taking on matters regarding their financial planning and investments. However, other studies seem to suggest that they lack the requisite confidence to do so. The evidence seems to suggest that woman should take the lead within their families in this department
According to a report released recently by SigFig, a US based company assisting direct investors with their portfolios, female investors enjoyed returns of 12% higher than their male counterparts over the year the report covers. Assuming this performance trend continued over a thirty-year period, a woman with R100 000 (we’ll use rands, even though the report uses dollars) invested would earn R58 000 more than a man. Men were also revealed to be 25% more likely to lose money in the market than women. Why is that?
It would seem that men ‘churn’ (sell off and buy something else) their portfolios 50% more often than women. Churning is particularly detrimental to investment returns. For example, in 2014 frequent traders (or investors with an annual investment portfolio turnover of 100% and above) experienced average net returns of only 0.1% compared to the 4.7% enjoyed by other investors.
Overconfidence and cautiousness?
A likely reason behind the lower returns earned by men and their tendency to churn their portfolios is overconfidence. According to the study, men are typically one and a half times more confident than women that they will better the market in 2015.
All things considered, the proverbial playing field evens out later on in life. This is evident in how a typical 25-year-old woman invests in a similar way to a typical 35-year-old man, while a 55-year-old man invests in a similar way to your average 65-year-old woman.
Despite being more successful investors than men on aggregate, women tend to be less empowered when it comes to their finances. A Fidelity Investments Money Fit Woman Study indicates that 8 in 10 women refrain from discussing finances with people they are close to. Interestingly, while 82% of women feel confident when it comes to managing a monthly budget, this is not the case when it comes to long-term financial planning. So whereas women are confident they can balance a checkbook or manage the family budget without help, they are less confident regarding planning for their financial needs during retirement or selecting the right financial investments.
Indeed, a lack of confidence is a leading cause of financial illiteracy among women, despite it being a top concern of theirs. For example, while 77% of women cited feeling comfortable talking to a doctor on their own about medical issues, just 47% said they would talk with a financial professional on their own. However, 70% of women currently not working with a financial professional would be motivated to do so in the future.
Money and marriage?
All too often, one spouse will take care of the finances. And all too often, it is men who take the proverbial wheel in steering the course of their family’s financial future. According to Fidelity’s study, just 41% of partners make joint retirement investment decisions and only 17% of the respondents were “completely confident” that their spouse was able to take responsibility for the family’s retirement finances.
Couples should really decide together on their family’s needs and goals in both the short and long term. Together they need to agree on and take ownership of their financial plan if, ultimately, it is to work for them both. Eventually, when you are forced to live with the consequences of all the small financial decisions you made earlier on in life, this can lead to regret.
Women need to take advantage of their inherently more astute investment instincts and ensure that they are fully informed regarding their financial affairs, so as to take control of their tomorrow. It is only when you know what your tomorrow holds that you can truly welcome it.
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted. (E&OE)