Not only do women face a gender gap when it comes to compensation, but they also lack confidence about investing the money they do earn, a new study has found.
The study, funded by Wells Fargo & Co. and released Thursday, found that 41 percent of affluent women were "not at all" confident about their ability to invest. Just 8 percent of the women said they were "highly confident" about investing.
Researchers interviewed 600 women in United States with a median of $455,000 in liquid assets and $145,000 in household income about wealth, investing and retirement.
"Today's affluent women are financially savvy working women, but investing confidence doesn't follow hand in hand with increased wealth," said Karen Wimbish, director of retail retirement at Wells Fargo. "Through our research, we see that investing confidence seems to be the linchpin to so many other positive behaviors that would provide an opportunity for women to grow their savings and to build a solid foundation in retirement."
The telephone survey found that 41 percent of affluent women do not believe the stock market is the best way to grow savings, while 52 percent said they do believe stocks are the way to go. About one-third of the women (34 percent) said they thought the stock market is "too risky."
Some 64 percent of the women said they have become more risk-averse as their net worth grew. Fifty-eight percent said they aren't interested in learning more about investing in stocks.
The news came the same week that the Dow reached an all-time high. The index of 30 large-company stocks has more than doubled since March 2009. So investors who were not in stocks during that span likely missed a once-in-a-generation opportunity to quickly double their net worth.
"I find it so interesting nearly all of these women say confidence in investing is very important (but) they are ambivalent about their own confidence and a majority is not interested in learning more," Wimbish said. "These women are in households with very strong resource levels, so the next step is to be totally aware of how the market can help them and to feel in control of their efforts to invest and grow savings for retirement."
The survey did find some encouraging news.
About 44 percent of married, affluent women between the ages of 40 and 69 said they earn the same or more than their spouses. Two-thirds of the women described themselves as thrifty, and 58 percent said they are actively saving.
"We see that women who were taught about investing by someone tend to be more confident in investing. Financial literacy makes a huge difference and has positive rippling effects for future generations," Wimbish said.