The vast majority of divorcees and widows work with advisors once they find themselves single again, but the differing life events – death and divorce – shape their investment attitudes and behaviors. What do widows and divorcees expect from financial advisors?
Widows represent about 7 percent of Millionaire households, those with a net worth of $1 million to $5 million, not including primary residence, according to a recently published Millionaire Corner e-zine, Women in Transition. Divorcees account for another 7 percent of Millionaire households. The share is slightly higher among high net worth households, which have $5 million to $25 million, not including primary residence.
The average age of a Millionaire divorcee is 62, according to our research, while the average age of a Millionaire widow is 70. About half (51 percent) of the Millionaire divorcees are retired, as are 82 percent of the widows. Average ages and retirement rates go up with wealth, and our research indicates that age and retirement status strongly influence the relationships between women in transition and their advisors.
Divorcees and widows are more likely to rely upon advisors than men, but widows are more likely than divorcees to be “advisor-dependent,” that is relying entirely on advisors (21 percent vs. 16 percent, respectively). (It's also interesting to note that the vast majority of divorcees say they're better off single.)
Both widows and divorcees prefer the same type of advisors. The largest share of each demographic uses a full-service broker (36 percent of widows and 40 percent of divorcees), and a smaller share of both groups uses independent financial planners and investment managers. Bankers and independent investment advisors, or RIAs, count among the top five types of advisors most commonly used by widows, while divorcees commonly use advisors who are mutual fund company representatives and discount/online brokers.
Divorcees are also more likely to use online financial tools, and express a greater likelihood of using social media to obtain financial information. (Learn more about the social media habits of widows and divorcees.)
A greater share of widows compared to divorcees (31 percent vs. 17 percent, respectively) describe themselves as conservative investors, while widows are less likely than divorcees to say they are aggressive investors (6 percent vs. 14 percent, respectively). It follows that a majority of widows (58 percent) favor principal protection over growth, while a minority of divorcees (45 percent) say it’s more important to “protect my principal than grow my investments.”
Divorcees also express more confidence in their investment abilities. Fourteen percent say they are “very knowledgeable” about financial matters, compared to 9 percent of women. Divorcees also express a greater enjoyment of investing than do widows, 44 percent vs. 39 percent.
Our research suggests that advisors may need to take additional care to earn the trust of a divorcee, who has likely changed financial professionals as a result of her divorce. Advisors must also be sensitive to the stresses felt by widows constrained to make available assets last for the remainder of their lives.