Women actually improve their investing habits and behaviors in a strong market, while men fall victim to a phenomenon called “testosterone overload.”
Women are trailing men in virtually every area of financial planning, excluding the percentage who are participating at some level in company sponsored retirement plans and IRAs, according to the latest annual Financial Finesse study on the gender gap in financial literacy.
The gender gap is highest with respect to money management habits and behaviors, according to the fourth annual research study. Sicty-five percent of women reported having a handle on their cash flow and spending less than they make, compared to 83 percent of men. Less than half (45 percent) reported having an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses, compared to 64 percent of men.
The disparity has “serious implications” for women. “On average, women earn less money than men, live longer, and generally have higher health care costs throughout their lifetimes,” the report states.
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Several studies have found that women’s lack of confidence in their financial literacy and their natural prudence give them natural skills as investors. The Financial Finesse study finds that compared to the first quarter of last year, a greater percentage of women are rebalancing their portfolios, reviewing all investments to develop a master asset allocation plan, and analyzing fees and expenses associated with their investments. Men, on the other hand, reported a backslide in each of these areas.
This is consistent with other research findings that women actually improve their investing habits and behaviors in a strong market, while men fall victim to a phenomenon called “testosterone overload,” by which in the midst of large gains, they ignore the risk management controls they originally put into place. As they take on more risk, women were much more likely to “counterbalance,” becoming more diligent in protecting the wealth they have accumulated.
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Not surprisingly, the gender gap decreases as household wealth increases, the study found. Women who live in households with incomes of $150,000 or more are in much closer parity with men than those that live in less wealthy households.
Age, too, is also a factor in the financial literacy. Women ages 44 and under have a slightly larger gap than their Baby Boomer counterparts, an indication of the need for improved education.
Financial literacy and wealth go hand-in-hand, according to research conducted by Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner. Two-in-five high net worth millionaires – those with investable assets of $5 million up to $25 million – describe themselves as “very knowledgeable” about investing, The share drops to 11 percent for non-millionaires with $100,000 up to $1 million to invest.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.