There are several key differences between how men and women invest, according to a new white paper published by Spectrem Group, High Net Worth Men vs. Women. This paper examines the different approaches taken by each gender when it comes to handling money and investments.

The paper is based upon data culled from 1,875 high net worth males and 1,277 high net worth females across the U.S., and it uncovered four main differences between how men and women dealt with their assets. Read on for how they differ—the insights can shed some light on how financial advisors can target their services toward one gender vs. another. (For further reading, see: Why Women Need More Attention from Advisors.)

  1. Women tend to be more conservative. While both genders indicated that they would be focusing their short-term money in stocks or stock mutual funds over the coming year, men focused on this more heavily than women. Almost half of all of the men surveyed said that they would be focusing on equities during the coming year, while only about a third of the women who were polled said that they would do so. The women said that they are slightly more inclined to lean on checking or savings accounts (56% of women compared to 52% of men).
  2. Women are much less likely to be self-directed investors. The study showed a significant gap between men and women when it comes to handling their own investments. Only 31% of women said that they wanted to take a hands-on approach to investing their money compared to 39% of men. There was an even bigger difference between men and women when it comes to getting enjoyment and satisfaction out of investing their money. Nearly half of all men said that they enjoy investing compared to less than a third of women. And when it comes to taking risks, only 30% of women said that they would be willing to endure a higher level of risk in order to achieve a greater return, while 44% of men said that they would do so. And 55% of the women surveyed answered that they would like to get a guaranteed rate of return on their investments compared to 46% of men. (For related reading, see: How Women Face Unique Retirement Challenges and Women Should Plan for 100-Year Life.)
  3. Men are less likely to seek professional advice. Spectrem’s paper indicates that women are 3% more likely than men to seek advice for specialized needs as well as regular consultations. And 2% more (15-13%) of women reported being completely dependent upon their advisors. Women are also more than twice as likely to use an accountant as their primary financial advisor than men. The study reflected that full-service brokers were the most common type of professional employed, followed by independent financial advisors. Other types of professionals used include bankers, attorneys, accountants and investment managers. But almost 40% of men reported that they don’t use any type of advisor, while just over a fifth of women fell into this category.
  4. Perceptions and performance. The way that women perceive their own financial knowledge differs substantially from that of men. More than twice as many women reported having a lack of financial knowledge as men. However, a mere 2% more of the women reported having overall satisfaction with their advisor. But 74% of women reported being satisfied with their advisors' performance, based upon the advisors’ responses to their requests and their knowledge and performance versus 66% of men.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to investments and money, men tend to take a more hands-on approach and are more likely to rely on themselves to get the job done. Women rely more on advisors and professional help for their needs and are more risk-averse than their male counterparts. Advisors who work with high net worth clients need to tailor their services accordingly in order to build stronger relationships and foster greater client loyalty. (For related reading, see: The Credit Battle of the Sexes: Game On!)