More women are interested in learning about financial planning and investing, but say they find it intimidating and difficult to understand, costing them potential long-term returns.
The 2013 Women, Money and Power Study, conducted by Allianz Life Insurance Co., says that 70 percent of respondents report finding financial information hard to understand, up from 44 percent in 2006.
Darlene March, president of Women Investing in Security and Education, says a survey of 550 women found that the reason women say they're intimidated is that they've experienced condescension from advisers and have received poor advice.
"Although the financial services industry is saying they cater to women, there's a lot more they need to do with financial education," says March. But women can't expect advisers to do it all, she adds. They need to educate themselves.
The stock market isn't Vegas
Taking charge of money management and retirement planning is crucial for women, but in general, they tend to fear risk and invest conservatively, sometimes to their detriment, March says. "Men are less intimidated," she adds. "I think they find it more fun."
On the whole, she says, "Men tend to step out on the risk curve more than women. Women think stocks are like gambling, so they stay conservative, whereas men are more aggressive and successful. And they enjoy the success."
Whether investors are risky or conservative depends a lot on their long-term goals and their age. While it's not bad to be conservative, if women don't take enough risk early on, they'll barely keep up with inflation and won't accumulate as much in the long term as they would by being more aggressive.
There's no secret to becoming more educated about investments. There are plenty of resources if women really want to do the work. "We found that women are trying to educate themselves better, but they're not taking the time to do research and do homework," March says. "I think a lot of women would rather plan a vacation than go to a finance website online and learn what's happening," she adds. Learning about investing "just takes time and research."
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