More wealthy women than wealthy men are turning to non-traditional investments, according to survey data released last week from MainStay Investments, the mutual fund distribution arm of New York Life.
Its study Investing Outside the Box, which surveyed 806 high-net-worth investors ages 40 to 65 with at least $1 million in investable assets, also found strong interest for alternatives among ultra-high-net-worth investors—men and women with more than $3 million in investable assets.
Of respondents already invested in alternatives, women have a higher allocation to this asset class than men (27 percent vs. 20 percent). More than half the women surveyed (55 percent) said they have increased their allocation to alternatives over the past year and 27 percent plan to further add to their allocation within the next five years.
Commodities, private equity and long/short equity proved to be the most popular strategies among high-net-worth women invested in non-traditional assets, said Matthew Leung, head of channel marketing strategies at MainStay Investments.
“Based on our study, we found that women may actually view non-traditional investments as an equalizer that may help them get back on track in achieving their long-term objectives,” says Leung, who notes that women as a group “tend to live longer, spend more time in retirement, make less than their male counterparts, and are more likely to take time off from work to care for children or aging parents.”
Ultra-high-net-worth investors, he says, “feel even better about alternatives.” Of this group, “three-in-four say that non-traditional investments have been extremely beneficial in their portfolios,” he says. “Moreover, ultra-high-net-worth men and women are even more likely to invest in alternatives and for a longer period of time.”
Based on the findings of the study, Leung says advisors should consider engaging women in conversation about alternative investments, provide additional education, show them the whole picture and not just the risk, concentrate on meeting long-term goals and find advocates among existing clients. Of the women surveyed who invest in alternatives, 89 percent said they would recommend them to their peers.
GenSpring Family Offices, a Jupiter, Fla.-based wealth management firm whose 333 client families have an average portfolio size of $33 million, is emphasizing alternative investments to clients because they can offer diversification and downside risk protection, says Chris Chandler, head of portfolio implementation and investment experience at GenSpring.
“Alternatives can be a great tool to increase the probability of driving portfolios towards desired outcomes,” he says. Women, he adds, may be particularly interested in the role these investments can play in their portfolios.
Based on its observations of clients and research, GenSpring has found that women tend to be less optimistic about financial outcomes, more risk adverse, more disciplined to sticking with their adopted investment strategies and more likely to take a longer-term, broader view of investing, he says.