March 2021

Retirement planning is never a one-size-fits-all proposal, but when it comes to strategies for women versus men in creating long-term income and security, things get even more complicated. As Social Security continues to be a vital pillar for many older Americans’ retirement income, the differences make women have to think even more carefully about when and how to claim their benefits.

Assistant Vice President and Director of Regulatory Compliance Sophia Duffy examines how women can make the most of their Social Security in her latest piece from Financial Planning.

January 2020

Today, women are working more, earning more, owning more, learning more and making more financial decisions than men. By all measures, they are an attractive market. Yet they are under-represented as advisors, and the mostly male profession has largely focused its attention on male clients; even among married clients.

To date, wealth managers and advisory firms have been slow to respond to the demographic and social changes that are transforming the market for financial advice and many are missing the significant market opportunity that women represent.

While women essentially need the same services as men, they do have some specific preferences and needs that firms have, so far gone unmet. Some leading firms have realized the opportunity, and are changing how they approach women as clients. Firms can learn about the changing trends in this important market segment, and how best to realize the opportunity.

January 2021

Women are increasingly taking ownership of their household’s financial management. Research conducted by The American College for Financial Services in 2020 reveals that more than 9 in 10 women with partners or spouses equally share or lead financial and investment decision-making for their households. This survey, which includes an analysis of over 800 women, describes how likely women are to work with a financial advisor, express concerns about their retirement security, and managing their finances.

The survey found that women tend to be more modest and humble about their financial and investment knowledge and literacy, and that their retirement planning and income literacy trails that of men.  Men outscored women on our 38-question quiz, which tested knowledge on retirement planning, medical and long-term care, life insurance, investing, and retirement income planning and strategies.

Women represent a critical audience for financial advisors and financial services providers. Understanding how their approach to financial and retirement planning differs from men and by age, asset level, and racial or ethnic background is critical to building lasting relationships and developing products, services, and approaches that meet women’s needs.

December 2020

We know that financial services is not as diverse as the country as a whole. We also know that there is tremendous business opportunity associated the changing demographic. There is a saying that the first step to solving a problem is acknowledging there is a problem.  If that is the case, then nearly half of those we surveyed in our research report, Diversity and Inclusion in Financial Advice in 2020, do not think the lack of diversity is a problem in the financial advice business. Only about a third of respondents said their firm attempts to foster a racially diverse staff. 

The report highlights the obstacles to greater diversity in our industry. The ways that firms recruit advisors needs to change in order to yield different results. How firms require new advisors to develop, their book of business does not work for some minorities. The report reinforces the changing US demographics and the opportunities that the shift in the population will present. There are compelling reasons to rethink how firms recruit and develop new advisors. Women and minorities will be controlling more wealth, so it is imperative that financial services firms’ staff reflect their potential client base.

The report then presents actionable steps that firms can take to become more diverse and inclusive. It outlines the policies and programs that drive the greatest impact in terms of diversity and inclusion and those that do not work. What survey respondents said was most effective may be surprising.

This interview discusses the startling results from a study on disability awareness. It is projected that one in four people currently age 20 will be forced to stop working for a considerable amount of time due to a disabling condition. However, only 26 percent of American households own disability income insurance. This report looks at this considerable protection gap and explores the level of awareness of the respondents to the incidence of disability as well as their understanding of disability insurance. In essence, the report proves the very notion that “what people don’t know can hurt them.”

In partnership with The University of Akron and Karen Lahey, PhD, CFP®, the first set of primary research conducted by The American College State Farm® Center for Women in Financial Services focused on gender differences in the recruitment and retention of financial services producers. This statistically valid, quantitative study revealed startling insights relative to the barriers and enablers of producer success, both in absolute, as well as in gender specific terms.

The American College State Farm® Center for Women in Financial Services completed a study on women business owners with the objective of determining the common financial goals, concerns, and actions among female business owners. Findings indicated that small business owners often show a strong bias for financial advisors of the same gender. The study had strong implications with regard to the current makeup of the advising community and the economic benefits associated with an increased representation of female advisors within the industry. The research also revealed that while the overwhelming majority of small business owners are concerned about retirement, a third of the women and a quarter of the men surveyed have not estimated how much they are going to need when they retire. This data suggests that millions of business owners are vastly underprepared for retirement.

A report issued by The American College State Farm® Center for Women in Financial Services seeks to explore the financial goals, challenges, and behaviors of women of color. It also highlights their level of comfort with financial management, their satisfaction with their current financial situation, and their attitudes and use of financial companies and professionals including selection characteristics such as ethnicity, gender, and age.

Using data from a 2015 analysis of our study, The Financial Needs and Attitudes of Women of Color, The American College State Farm® Center for Women in Financial Services has compiled the most critical financial needs of Generation Y, Generation X, and Baby Boomer women.

In Spring 2016 the Maguire Center for Ethics collaborated with The American College State Farm Center for Women in Financial Services to conduct research to better understand the experience of women working in the financial services. This preliminary study was designed to address the following overarching question: How does gender influence individual experiences and perceptions of the equality of opportunity between men and women in the financial services industry? The study included a survey completed by 1,135 industry professionals at six different companies, along with in-depth interviews with 71 survey respondents who volunteered to participate. The results from this preliminary study suggest that women in the financial services industry have a fundamentally different experience than men, and that this experience informs a substantially less optimistic view of the opportunity structures for women in the industry.