Women are changing what household wealth looks like in Canada. According to an Investor Economics Household Balance Sheet Report, women will control half of all wealth in Canada by 2026, up from one-third in 2016. On top of that, women are expected to inherit upwards of $710-billion in financial assets by the same year.
Education and financial advice that’s tailored to them is paramount, says Ursula Holmsten, chief executive officer and executive vice-president at ATB Wealth. “The empowerment that comes with playing an active role in managing your own finances is priceless,” she says.
Women and men alike have varying degrees of financial literacy and confidence acting as the chief financial officer of their household, and making investment decisions. Everyone is unique, but some studies have shown overall gender gaps in investment objectives and styles.
On average, women tend to be more risk averse than men when it comes to investing, and traditionally haven’t been as active investors as men. Ms. Holmsten points to a recent independent study by BNY Mellon Investment Management showing that less than 10 per cent of women reported having a high risk tolerance, with 49 per cent admitting a moderate and 42 per cent a low risk tolerance.
That study also found that women have traditionally invested at a lower rate than men. However, when women do invest, they often have more favourable results. A 10-year analysis from Fidelity found that female investors outperformed their male counterparts by .4 per cent.
One reason, says Ms. Holmsten, may be that women trade less frequently than men. Fidelity found that men are 35 per cent more likely to make trades than women, and log into their investment portfolios much more often than women.
That patience may be advantageous for women in general and certainly during times of market volatility, when it can be beneficial to hold an investment, says Ms. Holmsten.
There are other differences in investment preferences. For instance, the BNY Mellon study found that women have a higher interest than men in socially responsible investing.
All of it points to the need for women – and everyone – to have a financial advisor who’s in sync with their particular needs.
“It’s important to reflect on your long-term goals and consider how investing can help you to achieve these goals,” says Ms. Holmsten. “A financial advisor can help you both in identifying your goals and creating a financial plan to achieve them.”
Look for an advisor who listens and empowers
What can make for the best match? Ms. Holmsten says it’s trust in an advisor. “Advice is actually the product being offered, not the buying and selling of securities,” she says. “It’s important to feel your advisor listens to you and empowers you to make informed decisions.”
Women have a longer life expectancy than men. That increases the likelihood that they’ll be the primary or sole financial decision-maker at some point – if they aren’t already. The earlier they get comfortable with those decisions and responsibilities, the better, says Ms. Holmsten.
“As a parent with two daughters, and as someone who has worked in this industry for so many years, this is something that is near and dear to my heart,” she says. “What I tried to teach my kids, since they were young, is how fulfilling it can be to be financially aware, to budget and to know you can be independent.”
While taking control of your own finances at an early age is ideal, women, like anyone, can grow more confident about their wealth and investment strategies with the right financial partner. In fact, Canadians who work with a financial advisor are far less likely to say that money is their top source of stress, compared to those who don’t work with a planner, according to FP Canada’s 2021 Financial Stress Index.
Building a strong partnership with an advisor does something else. It can give investors the confidence and peace of mind that their financial security, and best interests, are being looked after. To complement this relationship and improve financial literacy, it’s helpful to pursue some do-it-yourself education. A good introductory resource is the ATB Wealth Financial Management Fundamentals Guide.
Being a part of the money management process, whether independently or as part of a household, is important too because life isn’t predictable. Divorce, a partner’s death and inheritances are all events that have a major financial impact. Being able to navigate them is a necessity.
“You don’t have to do it alone,” says Ms. Holmsten. “It’s not always about the amount of money you have, it’s about whether you have enough money to live your life goals. Great advice can help with that.”
ATB Wealth consists of a range of financial services provided by ATB Financial and certain of its subsidiaries. ATB Investment Management Inc., ATB Securities Inc., and ATB Insurance Advisors Inc. are individually licensed users of the registered trade name ATB Wealth. ATB Securities Inc. is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.
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