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Everything the Financial Services Industry Knows About Women Is Wrong

The financial services industry doesn’t know much about women, according to new research from United Capital.

Called “What You’re Really Thinking: Understanding The Financial Lives Of Women,” the report refutes three assumptions about how the industry treats female clients.

Researchers asked 30 affluent women, aged 35-55, to keep a personal diary of their ups and downs over the course of a week. Trends in those findings were then compared to a national sample of 1,000 women.

Myth 1: Women are low on confidence.

Diary research as well as survey responses indicated that the so-called “confidence gap” between men and women results from women having higher standards than men—not self-esteem issues. Eighty percent of women surveyed said they feel frustrated when others do not live up to the right standards, while 90 percent said they sacrifice time, energy and money to make sure tasks are done properly. More than half of diary “elation” and “frustration” responses resulted from expectations being met or broken.

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“When it comes to financial confidence, women are not slower or less sure of themselves; they just want things done right,” says the study.

Myth 2: Women are short on money.

What they're really short on is time. "Women are facing a crisis of time that nobody in the industry is talking about or trying to solve,” the study states.

Of the 743 frustration responses included in the diary findings, a third had to do with time. Meanwhile, 77 percent of respondents in the national study said they feel as though they do everything without help, with more than half of respondents saying time is their scarcest resource.

Myth 3: Women are characterized by their gender.

“Despite the financial industry’s insistence on developing female-specific financial services featuring pink brochures, women do not experience financial life in terms of their sex,” the study says.

Only 3 percent of all financial-related elations and frustrations were reported as “only happens to my gender” in the diary findings, while more than three-quarters of survey respondents said they agree or strongly agree that daily ups and downs are not gender-specific.

Over 70 percent of women surveyed said they are “most dissatisfied” with the financial services industry over any other and, as a result, are less likely than men to have a financial advisor. The study also indicates that women are likely to change financial advisors if their spouse dies.

This reality exists, says the study, thanks to biased research propagated by faulty research methods: asking questions that confirm false assumptions, treating women as a homogenous group, defining women’s financial lives in terms of saving and investing, and viewing women’s financial lives as independent from other aspects of life.

The study concludes, “It’s clear that for women to start trusting the financial industry, the industry must exhibit the same high standards that women have, create more time for them, and stop focusing on their gender as a starting point for what’s important to them.”

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