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Marion Syversen Marion Syversen
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The best of both worlds

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Men, women and money. Though for years a neglected topic of research, the differences between the genders in perception, shopping habits and nuanced capabilities is now a hot topic in the field of behavioral economics.

The most recent research that I've read was a survey by the Bank of Montreal. The study began with a simple query: Which gender would win in a battle of investing returns? Remembering that these findings are generalities, let's find out more about style differences between the genders.


More men are enrolled in work-place retirement savings programs. Overall, men have made retirement savings a priority and thus have accumulated a greater amount of money in their accounts.

Men consider their investment strategies 'aggressive' and, perhaps as a consequence, their investments did less well in the recent recession.

Men also self-report that they are 'as stubborn about seeking financial advice as they are about asking for directions.'


In general, women have interrupted work years as frequently family needs are prioritized. They consequently have lower accumulated retirement savings than their male counterparts. Women participate less frequently in any savings programs if such a program is offered at work.

Less years in the workplace translates into lower Social Security benefits, benefits on their own or that are used as an additional income stream to compliment Social Security. Don't forget that women enjoy longer lives than most men, so savings have further to go. Sadly, these factors mean that women live more frequently in poverty while in retirement than men.

Unlike men, women like receiving investment help, as we tend to be less confident of our financial knowledge, especially in topics such as the stock market and investing.

The survey didn't even address the emotions sometimes inherent in any financial decisions that can disrupt the best intentions. Guilt and worry about how one or another spends or plans the financial future can derail progress. Embarrassment about a lack of doing anything concrete sometimes results in paralysis. Even making a budget can bring a flare-up. When emotions erupt, sometimes nothing gets done.

In answer to the question of who wins, the survey finds (much to my professional delight) that both genders have better investment performance when they work with an advisor. Advisors help. But the bottom line: recognize and respect your complimentary gender perspectives, and use everything that makes you the wonderful little snowflakes you are to make a great plan for your future.


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