August 21, 2006
Wonder women? :Ninety percent of women feel somewhat if not totally financially insecure, a study found
By Kara McGuire
Gladys Karhu used to put her pop cans aside so the woman who collected them in her
A 76-year-old retired hospice nurse, Karhu and her husband have a small pension, Social Security and retirement funds. Nevertheless, Karhu wonders whether one day she'll need to pick up cans for cash. "Will the money we have put away last until we no longer need to worry about it?" she said.
She's not alone. Nearly half of women -- even the ones earning six figures -- fear becoming a bag lady. That's according to a study about women and money to be released today by Allianz Life Insurance Co., which has its North American headquarters in
Even more startling: 90 percent of the 1,925 women surveyed said they feel financially insecure. Yet women are better educated, work more and earn more than they did decades ago.
"Here they are, controlling more money, and running countries, and running companies and taking care of their family, and 90 percent are somewhat or very insecure," said Lisa Resnick, a division president at Allianz.
Amy Wolff, a certified financial planner and certified divorce financial analyst in
Why the fear? Women have longer life expectancies, but typically earn less than men. Some spend years out of the workforce raising children. "We [women] have less money available to put away for retirement and we have to make it last longer," Wolff said.
Unlike many of the women surveyed, Donna Adams, a project manager for a software company, is confident about her finances. "I know where the money is coming from and how we're spending it," said
That confidence places her in the "Wonder Woman" category in the Allianz survey.
Curious about how the study could find that 90 percent of women feel financially insecure yet 41 percent identify with confident characters like Wonder Woman and Goldilocks? A spokeswoman for Harris Interactive, who conducted the survey for Allianz, said to remember that women who relate to Wonder Woman and Goldilocks may still harbor some financial insecurities. But they are more secure relative to characters such as Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland.
A spokeswoman for Harris Interactive, who conducted the survey for Allianz, said to remember that women who relate to Wonder Woman and Goldilocks may still harbor some financial insecurities. But they are more secure relative to characters such as Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland.
According to the study, one in every five women who aren't involved in their family's finances blame a lack of time. Two of five say it's because of a lack of knowledge.
Wolff spends a lot of time trying to bridge this knowledge gap by discussing basic financial concepts with her clients, half of whom are women. "I think education is the No. 1 key to help alleviate some of the fear," she said. "Often we're worrying about things that aren't going to be reality."
The study also found that women think differently about investing than men. Only 19 percent of women are willing to take significant financial risks for greater return, vs. 32 percent of the 1,258 men surveyed. Women also want more predictability, security and simplicity when it comes to investing. "They don't want the hot stock or the hot tip," said Resnick. "They want the hot plan."
And they want to work with female advisers. Women are more than twice as likely as men to choose a female financial adviser, the Allianz study said. But only 20 percent of advisers nationwide are women. It's a conundrum that has the industry forming focus groups like crazy and the two Allianz executives interviewed for this story scratching their heads.
Resnick hopes the study will bring awareness to the lack of female advisers as well as the lack of attention the industry has paid to potential female customers. Only 1 percent of the advertisements in women's magazines like Good Housekeeping, Glamour and Martha Stewart are for financial services.
It could prove to be a lucrative market. According to the TrendSight Group, an