By now, it’s old news that women exhibit certain traits that make them more successful investors than men, like the fact that they view investing on a long-term timeline and aren't quick to trade based on market whims.
On the flip side, other studies have shown that many women are timid about investing, either because of their risk-averse nature or simply because they tend to leave those kinds of decisions to their partners or other family members—even when they know they can do more to grow their nest eggs.
Unfortunately, this is a troubling paradox that doesn't seem to be resolving itself: New research reveals that even though women are proud of their hard-earned paychecks, they are still leaving a lot of the responsibility for growing that money in the hands of others.
The study, sponsored by Wells Fargo, looked at the financial habits of nearly 2,000 affluent American women (those with at least $250,000 in household investable assets) between the ages of 40 and 79.
More than 90% of women said they enjoyed making money and watching it grow, and two-thirds of these women said they’d accumulated most of their wealth through investments and the stock market—yet just 46% said they were responsible for choosing and managing their household’s investment accounts. Among married women, that number dipped to 34%.
Keep in mind: These are women who exhibit a lot of control in other areas of their financial lives. As many as 82% of respondents said they handled their families' budgets, while 79% managed the household cash flow.
And it’s not as though women believe they’re less capable: nearly all participants said they don’t think men are better investors than women. In fact, half said men were overconfident investors.
So what gives? Perhaps women’s hesitancies have something to do with the perception that they don't know enough about investing: More than two-thirds of participants said no one ever taught them how to invest in the stock market, and 21% say one of their biggest regrets is not learning more about money and finance.
“I don’t think I’ve seen a study where women so overwhelming express joy at earning money and pride in their capacity to do so. And they credit the stock market for increasing their wealth," said Karen Wimbish, director of Retail Retirement at Wells Fargo, in a statement.
"However, we see fewer women managing their investments, although that is changing," she adds. "The good news is more younger women in the workplace are taking on the role of investing for their households. If you are making money and you think the market is helping your money to grow, then it makes sense to be more directly involved in investment decisions.”
Indeed, the youngest survey respondents (women in their 40s) were most likely to determine their household’s stock-market strategy: As many as 56% said they chose and managed investments accounts. Meanwhile, 43% of affluent women said they’ve become more confident at handling investments as their wealth has grown.
Regardless of your gender or your investing experience, you can still fall prey to cognitive biases that could sabotage your success. Check out our guide to investors’ most common mental blocks—and how to avoid them.