Women May Stop Working With Adviser If Spouse Dies

Some women say if their relationship with a spouse or partner terminated, they would also end their relationship with a financial adviser. 

According to Prudential Financial’s survey, “Financial Experience & Behaviors Among Women,” almost a quarter of women say they would discontinue a relationship with their financial professional if their spouse passed away, suggesting room for improvement in the quality of the advisory relationship for women.  

One of the biggest misconceptions about investing is that it is difficult and complicated, which could explain why some women stop working with an adviser if a relationship with a partner ends. Some women may not feel like they know enough about investments to feel comfortable talking to an adviser, Deborah Owens, CEO of Owens Media Group, said during Prudential’s press event about the study.

Two-thirds of women do not work with a financial professional, according to the survey. Women who do not currently use an adviser but are likely to do so are younger, have higher incomes, are disproportionately African-American, and are more likely to own an IRA or contribute to an employer-sponsored defined contribution (DC) plan.

The survey indicates that women who work with a financial professional feel more confident about not outliving their savings in retirement and maintaining their standard of living than others. While women are relatively confident in their ability to achieve financial goals such as buying a house and reducing debt, the survey indicates that they are less confident about having enough money in retirement and protecting investments from volatility.

Baby Boomer women are nearly as likely as their younger counterparts to say they are far behind or have not started planning for retirement (41% vs. 48%), further demonstrating that most women lack confidence in their retirement security.

“The whole confidence gap is really what stood out [in the survey],” Owens said. “I really look at that confidence gap as a knowledge gap, too.”

Collaborating with an adviser can be essential in getting an education, added Joan Cleveland, senior vice president of business development, individual life insurance at Prudential. Educated women will also be willing to take more investment risks, improving their chances of having adequate retirement savings.

The smarter choice is always to work with an adviser on your retirement preparedness rather than seek advice online, or from friends and family, added Lynette Khalfani-Cox, “The Money Coach” personal finance expert.

“You’re not going to go to a mechanic when you have a heart problem,” she said.

Prudential's survey polled 1,410 American women and 604 American men ages 25 to 68.