The study, the third in Fidelity’s Intra-Family Generational Finance Study, revealed mothers have substantially more detailed conversations on topics ranging from health care needs to living expenses in retirement. Considerably more mothers than fathers report having had comprehensive discussions with their adult children about estate planning or wills (79% of mothers vs. 69% of fathers), health and eldercare topics (66% vs. 56%), and the ability to cover living expenses in retirement (70% vs. 55%).
Mothers were more than twice as likely to describe themselves as “the empathizer” in the family vs. fathers (15% vs. 6%). So, mothers said they found it easier to talk with their adult children about issues surrounding their personal economy. Sixty-four percent of mothers surveyed say it is “not at all difficult” to start a conversation with their child about their savings and investments, compared to 54% of fathers. Quite often, fathers believe they take a more straightforward approach with their adult children. More than half of the fathers (54%) see themselves as “the pragmatist” when having financial conversations with their adult children.
Other findings from the study showed that more mothers (13% vs. 3% of fathers) are planning on an adult child caring for them if they become ill, while more fathers (47% vs. 32% of mothers) are counting on their spouse. In addition, the study highlights that significantly more fathers (40% vs. 26% of mothers) are worried that their spouse will not be financially prepared if they pass away first.
“We encourage all families to engage in detailed conversations on these financial topics, and as this research indicates, starting the discussion with mom may be a good strategy,” said Lauren Brouhard, senior vice president, Fidelity Investments. “Planning together and learning from one another on a broad range of financial topics can have a positive impact on your family.”
The study was conducted online among U.S. parents and their adult children from July 24 to August 29, 2012. Parents were at least 55 years old, had an adult child older than 30 and had investible assets of at least $100,000. The adult children were at least 30 years old, and had money saved in an IRA, 401(k) or other investment account. The children also had at least $10,000 saved.
An executive summary of the study can be found here.