High-net-worth women won't be consigned to backseat passenger when it comes to making household decisions on finances and investments, according to a new survey.

High-net-worth women want to have an active role in making their household financial decisions and choosing their investments, according to the Women and Financial Independence Study released today by Schwab Advisor Services.

"Eighty-eight percent of women surveyed want to have a say in how their advisor invests their money," Neesha Hathi, senior vice president for Advisor Technology Solutions for Schwab Advisor Services.

"They don't just want to be taken to lunch," Hathi added. "They actually want to have a say in how those investments are being made."

Schwab surveyed 500 women between the ages of 30 and 70 years old with average investable assets of $1.3 million.

Hathi says the survey was commissioned to provide independent investment advisors with current information on how to best serve the growing population of high-net-worth women. "We're telling our advisor clients about the changing demographics of their client base -- the generation that they are serving today, and the fact they're aging," Hathi said. "There's changes going on, with younger investors gaining more wealth and advisors now serving more wealthy women."

Advisors must be sure to direct questions at women as they would do with men, Hathi says. "Are they really making sure to engage the woman -- are they building the same quality of relationship?"

The survey found that 65% of high-net-worth women consider themselves financially independent and that women consider continuous, good investment performance more important than having a long-term financial plan (58% versus 39%).

HNW women also want their advisors to consider their long-term financial needs (84 percent), whole financial picture (82 percent), current life stage (70 percent) and even their children's financial needs (35 percent). However, 40% of HNW respondents also want advisors to take into consideration their immediate need for return on investments.

While HNW women are clearly decision makers in their own right, shared or collaborative decision making with their spouse/partner is also highly valued. Ninety-three percent of those women surveyed consider themselves the primary or shared decision maker for household finances -- budgeting, bill paying -- and 84 percent for investments.

In addition, 68 percent -- both single and married -- believe that responsibility for financial matters should be handled equally by a couple.

The study also finds that married HNW women share most household financial decisions with their spouses/partners. This includes retirement planning (67 percent), health/medical (64 percent), investments (62 percent), home maintenance (56 percent), household budgeting (56 percent), and children's education (51 percent).

However, a third of married women say that they would like to be more involved in their household's financial decisions. And although 82 percent have a joint or shared checking account, many also have assets in their name alone, including 75% with their own retirement account, 59% with credit cards, and 49% with an investment account.

Three quarters of the women surveyed have an advisor, and of these, 25 percent chose the primary financial advisor themselves and 37 percent made the decision together with their spouse/partner.

Other survey findings include that gender matters less than age for a HNW woman when selecting an investment advisor. Women are generally agnostic (87 percent) about whether their advisor is male or female.

Fifty-three percent of the women surveyed expressed a preference in choosing the age of the advisor, with a fair number preferring advisors in their 40s or 50s (22 percent and 25 percent respectively). Forty-seven percent of respondents had no advisor age preference.

The study was conducted for Schwab Advisor Services by Koski Research using online panel sources. Individuals participated in the study between May 25 and June 4.

San Francisco-based Charles Schwab Corp. custodies more than 8.7 million active brokerage accounts, 1.5 million corporate retirement plan participants, 815,000 banking accounts, and $1.76 trillion in client assets as of May 31.

Jim McConville