Women Actually Aren't Afraid of Investing

  • By Julia Sonenshein
  • March 17, 2016

Over and over, we hear that women are afraid of investing, and that fear keeps them out of the stock market. But maybe we’re having the wrong conversation about women and investing. Perhaps fear is the wrong angle.

A nationwide public opinion poll of women’s attitudes toward their money by Tiller, LLC, and WorthFM* shows that women’s aversion to investing is less about anxiety and more about a systemic failure. To put it bluntly, Wall Street has failed women.

Only 10 percent of the women surveyed say that Wall Street pays equal attention to men and women, while 76 percent of women believe that Wall Street “generally does not have consumers’ best interests at heart.”

If you’re accustomed to institutionalized and casual sexism, it probably won’t surprise you that women cited Wall Street’s perceived historical bias toward men. When the women surveyed were asked about the finance industry’s biggest misperception of female investors, they cited  the belief that women are less competent than men when it comes to investing, followed by the idea that they defer to their husbands or partners on financial issues.

wall street
Martina Fugazzotto and WorthFM/Tiller, LLC.
Click to view larger.

It’s no wonder that 44 percent of the women surveyed aren’t actively involved in investing anything besides their workplace 401(k)s. That’s a shame, because women are excellent investors. In fact, a study by Fidelity of more than 12 million investors showed that women’s investments outperformed men’s over the long term.

Beyond investing prowess, women are crucial to growing the economy — and are hardly a population to be ignored. Women will inherit 70 percent of the money that gets passed down over the next two generations, according to a study by Boston College’s Center on Wealth and Philanthropy. And women are increasingly the breadwinners of their families: 64 percent of families fully or partly depend on a mother’s income. But perhaps the most compelling statistic is this: It’s estimated that women will control two-thirds of the wealth in the United States by the year 2030.

Given the huge role women play in our economy, it’s time for the financial services industry to wake up and start talking to the real seat of power in this country.

*DailyWorth and WorthFM are affiliated companies. Worth Financial Management LLC (WorthFM) is a registered investment advisor with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC").

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