Women play a role in the financial decisions of 60 percent of couples, even if that means separating the accounts into “his” and “hers,” according to the UBS Investor Watch report released Tuesday.
Couples handle finances and investing in one of four ways: the man makes the decisions (40 percent of couples), the woman decides (16 percent), the decisions are shared equally (28 percent) or finances are kept separate (16 percent), the report says.
The decision maker matters because men and women approach investing differently, UBS says. Women are usually more conservative investors and hold more money in cash. Men are more aggressive and more likely to immediately invest any money that is received.
In the 40 percent of couples where the man is the decision maker, the couple is more likely to follow traditional family roles in other areas as well. The women in these couples are generally satisfied with this choice until the couple reaches retirement. Then they report a high degree of worry about their finances and about how much to spend in retirement.
“Women who choose to leave financial decision-making and the financial advisor relationship in the hands of their husbands should seize the opportunity to take a more active role,” says Jeff Scott, head of market research for UBS Wealth Management Americas. “Women are outliving their spouses and because they never dealt with finances before, they’re less confident about handling them later in life. As a result, they are more concerned about the stability of their financial future and outliving their money in retirement.”
In the 28 percent of the couples where the decision-making is shared equally, both partners often share the same risk tolerance. If they do not have the same risk tolerance, they usually resolve the issue by compromising and choosing a happy medium between the two parties’ opinions, UBS says.
Couples who share financial decisions are most likely to report that their advisor engages with both of them equally (86 percent). As a result of being on the same page when it comes to investing, couples who share financial decisions argue least about money and are most satisfied with the distribution of financial roles.
For couples that make independent decisions, some keep finances completely separate and some have “his money,” “her money” and “our money.”
LGBT couples are more likely to take a separate-decisions approach when it comes to money, UBS says. They are also more confident and optimistic financially than heterosexual couples. This data aligns with findings in the LGBT edition of UBS Investor Watch published last year. LGBT couples differ from heterosexual couples on other dimensions as well. They have a more aggressive risk tolerance (32 percent at least somewhat aggressive versus 21 percent of other couples) and are more likely to disagree about risk tolerance.