Are Women Stock Market-Phobic?

Katie Simon
Posted

The stock market may be on the upswing, but it seems that women aren’t convinced.

Recent research by Wells Fargo found that 34% of rich women believe the stock market is too risky. The survey, which polled 600 women with a median of $455,000 in investable assets, also found that 41% don’t think it’s the ideal way to increase savings.

Do women lack the financial literacy that could better inform investment decisions, or are they simply overly cautious?

It could be the former. Over half the respondents said they aren’t interested in learning more about investing in the stock market. Meanwhile, 41% of women said they’re “not at all confident” about their ability to invest—even though more than 9 in 10 believe it’s important for women to feel empowered to make investment decisions.

This study is hardly the first to suggest that high-earning women across the country often hesitate, or defer to their partners, when it comes to investing. Many store their savings in low-yield accounts. When asked why they shy away from the market, women cite everything from sleeping easier at night to believing they are saving money by avoiding stock market dips.

Interestingly, research suggests that when women do invest, their increased patience, tendency to do more in-depth investigation and willingness to accept outside advice pays off. Women hedge fund managers, for example, tend to outperform overall hedge fund indexes.

So what’s the biggest difference between women who feel secure in their ability to invest wisely and those who don’t? 67% of women who describe themselves as confident in investing said that someone educated them about investing, whereas only 39% of less confident women had the same experience.

According to Karen Wimbish, director of Retail Retirement at Wells Fargo, “Financial literacy makes a huge difference and has positive rippling effects for future generations.”