Pru Says Women Have the Dough
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pru Says Women Have the Dough

A point for and against women: More women than men are primary breadwinners now. Sadly, women still lack confidence when it comes to making financial decisions.

All this and more was discussed yesterday at a Prudential media luncheon at the Intercontinental Hotel in New York's Midtown. The session — which was largely dominated by female attendants — announced the results of the firm's seventh biennial study on the financial behaviors of women.

According to the survey, 53 percent of 1,400 women surveyed earn the most in their households. But only 20 percent of women — compared with 45 percent of men — feel confident about making financial decisions, and many doubt that they can maintain their current lifestyles in retirement. This signals a confidence gap that Stephanie Sherman, a CFP for Prudential present at the luncheon, called "frightening."

Nevertheless, she scoffed at the comparison with men, where women are generally five times as likely as men to say they are investment novices.

"We're just more honest!" she cried.

In general, however, women do tend to be more risk-averse, pointed out Joan Cleveland, senior vice president of Prudential business development and one of the panelists for the session. She and fellow panelist Deborah Owens, CEO of Owens Media Group, then discussed major differences in the financial styles and priorities between men and women. Women tend to worry most about household expenses, debt, and their ability to save for retirement, whereas men fixate on external factors like the state of the economy, household expenses, and retirement. Women are also more concerned than men about becoming a burden to their families.

Cleveland and Owens also pointed to lack of education causing women to be more hesitant about shouldering risk in their investments.

But both panelists agreed that there is an opportunity for women to learn about investing, participate more proactively, and ultimately attain their money-making goals — especially for younger women who are delaying marriage and have that opportunity to invest. Owens, for one, firmly believed that women already have all the smarts and experience to be smart investors.

"Women are normally the CFOs of their household, they actually manage those finances for the household," she said. "So it baffles me: where is that lack of confidence coming from? It doesn't translate on the investment side, when in fact, it's the same muscle you're using for investing."

Read the entire survey online on the Prudential website.

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