High-net-worth women worldwide tend to adopt a traditional “divide and conquer” approach in managing finances, where they defer to their spouses to manage critical, long-term planning, according to a report by UBS Global Wealth Management released Wednesday.
Globally, 85% of high-net-worth women are highly involved with the short-term finances of their families, such as daily expenses, budgeting, and cash flow. However, 58% also leave decisions about retirement planning, insurance, and long-term care to their husbands.
The most frequently cited reasons include: “I think my spouse knows more about this topic than I do” (82%); “I focus on other responsibilities” (79%); “My spouse is the primary breadwinner” (78%), and “I’m not interested in planning and investing” (68%).
Additionally, more than half (56%) of women say “my spouse discourages me from being more involved. ”
“As women around the world live longer, the likelihood of becoming widowed or divorced increases,” says Jane Schwartzberg, head of strategic client segments at UBS Global Wealth Management. “It’s critically important that women not only understand, but are engaged in, key, long-term financial decisions.”
The report, timed for Women’s History Month, surveyed 3,652 wealthy women across nine countries/regions, including the U.S., U.K., Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Brazil, Mexico, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
Surprisingly, millennial women (age 20-34) are more likely than previous generations to leave long-term financial decisions to their spouses, according to the report.
On average, 59% of millennials defer to their spouses to manage investing and financial planning, compared to 55% of women over age 50.
However, there are significant regional differences. In Singapore, 73% of millennials leave long-term planning to their spouses, followed by the U.K. (69%), Hong Kong (65%) and Italy (65%). Rates of deferral among younger women are lowest in Brazil and Mexico, at 40% and 41%, respectively.
The respondents, 71 of whom were also interviewed in depth by the UBS, have at least US$1 million in investable assets when married, or US$250,000 when divorced or widowed.