Spectrem Offers Insights About Affluent Female Investors

A substantial majority (98%) of affluent women say honesty and trustworthiness are key criteria for selecting financial advisers, the Spectrem Group found.

Similarly, 95% of wealthy women say they want an adviser who is transparent in their practices and someone who will keep them informed.

The Spectrem Group, a consulting firm specializing in the affluent and retirement markets, conducted a survey of 3,024 households with a net worth of $100,000 to $25 million, not including primary residence, from September to November 2010, as well as focus groups and one-on-one interviews with women who fit the criteria.

The focus groups found wealthy women were wary of advisers who seemed sales-driven or less than fully open and transparent.

“Across the affluent, millionaire and Ultra High Net Worth wealth segments, women want to be comfortable that advisers are focusing on their specific, personal financial needs – not on product or profit,” said Catherine S. McBreen, Managing Director of Spectrem Group. “In fact, a frank, straightforward approach is more important to wealthy women than investment track record, depth of products offered, referrals, and even fees.”

Investment preferences 

The survey also found that women prefer environmentally-minded investments rather than energy-related ones. Fifty-three percent of affluent women are interested in environmentally responsible investments compared to only 33% of men. Likewise, 47% of wealthy women would like to invest in socially responsible investments, compared to 33% of men.

Yet men show significant interest in energy-focused investments, for which women have less of an interest. Thirty-three percent of men would invest in oil exchange-traded funds (ETFs) compared to only 18% of women. Twenty-one percent of men are interested in oil limited partnerships, contrasted to 10% of wealthy women, and 20% of men would invest in oil futures, but only 12% of women feel similarly.

These preferences are mindful of current events as well – 72% affluent men continue to be in favor of using nuclear energy more frequently as a power source in the future compared to 37% of affluent women.

Sources of investment information 

The more assets a woman has, the more likely she is to stay up-to-date with financial news. Spectrem found that the most common source of advice is from a financial adviser, but as wealth levels increase, so does interest in outside investment information.

The Spectrem study divided women into three wealth levels. The “Ultra High Net Worth” (UHNW) group included households with over $5 million of net worth. The “Millionaires” was the mid-tier group, including households with $1-5 million of net worth, and the “Mass Affluent” group included women with $100,000 to $1 million of net worth. Primary residences were not included in net-worth calculations.

Women in the UHNW group were most likely to read daily financial news outlets (42%) compared to Millionaires (38%) or the Mass Affluent (21%). The wealthiest women were also most likely to listen to cable television for investment information (43%), compared to 37% of Millionaire women and 36% of the Mass Affluent.

Eighty-two percent of the UHNW women go to their primary financial adviser for investment information compared to 64% of Millionaire women and 46% of Mass Affluent women. In contrast, 30% of the Mass Affluent women rely on friends and family for advice. This compares to 29% of Millionaires and 32% of the UHNW.

The results of the survey are available in Spectrem’s “Millionaire Corner.”