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For the past several years, OppenheimerFunds’ annual high-net-worth (HNW) research study has offered groundbreaking insights on investor behaviors and preferences. One of the most exciting aspects of the 2019 Generations Project research is our close look at HNW women as investors, as financial decision makers, and as clients.

As their financial power and influence continue to rise, women are playing a prominent role in making key financial decisions for their families, according to the 2019 OppenheimerFunds’ Generations Project survey of high-net-worth investors. And when they enlist the support of financial advisors, 97% of HNW women say they are satisfied with the service they receive.

While that’s good news for women and their advisors alike, “our findings around “Women, Wealth and Families” indicate an opportunity for advisors who can better engage with wealthy women,” says John McDonough, OppenheimerFunds’ Head of Distribution and Marketing. For example, the survey finds potential disparities in the level of time (and attention) advisors spend with men versus women clients.

Among married HNW investors, while 92% of women and 96% of men take an active role in household financial decisions, fewer than half (47%) of women say they are the primary decision maker, compared with 66% of men. And while 45% of women say they share responsibilities, only 30% of men feel that way.

Toward a Female Focus

“Women control nearly $11 trillion in assets, own 40% of U.S. businesses, and are the primary beneficiaries of the largest wealth transfer in history,” says Christina Boris, Director of Client Research for OppenheimerFunds, “There is a clear need for female-focused wealth management offerings. Yet women are increasingly being marketed to without being fully understood.”

For example, the study finds that a significant portion of women and men HNW investors, 43%, stayed calm during the late-2018 market volatility, and did not make any changes to their investments. Yet it also suggests that women, more averse to risk-taking, may have missed important opportunities for long-term growth. During the extended volatility, just 17% of women purchased new investments, compared with nearly a quarter (24%) of men.

Family financial conflicts represent another area where advisors have room to grow in terms of helping women and enhancing their practices. While HNW men most often turn to their advisors for help resolving such matters (31%—the top answer), the top choice among HNW women (32%) is other family members.

Building on Existing Trust

“Advisors who seek to deepen relationships with their women clients start from a good place in terms of high levels of trust and collaboration,” says Ned Dane, Head of OppenheimerFunds’ Private Client Group. In fact, 48% of HNW women let their advisors make most investment decisions for them, and 46% make decisions with their advisors. Just 6% make most decisions themselves, with little or no input.

The 2019 Generations Project is based on an online survey of 775 HNW investors, evenly segmented across genders (52% men vs. 48% women). In April, OppenheimerFunds will release the full report beyond the women’s findings, including new insights on how investors feel about their portfolios, the extent to which they’re using robo-advisors, and whether advisors are doing enough to serve entire client families.

Learn more about our research insights, contact your local OppenheimerFunds consultant.