Closing the financial planning gender gap

(BPT) - While it’s a bit of a stereotype to say men are from Mars and women are from Venus, when it comes to financial planning styles, the fact remains the sexes are worlds apart in their approach to saving and investing.

Prudential Financial’s latest biennial study on the Financial Experience and Behaviors Among Women, found significant differences in the financial styles and priorities of women versus men. Among the findings:

* Married/partnered women are more likely than their male counterparts to say they share financial decision-making equally (35 percent vs. 21 percent).

* Married men are far more likely to say they are taking control of financial decisions (38 percent) than married women (19 percent). 

* Women worry most about household expenses, debt and their ability to save for retirement.

* Men are more focused on external factors such as the state of the economy, followed by household expenses and retirement. 

The survey also noted that only 10 percent of female breadwinners feel very knowledgeable about financial products and services, and are only half as likely to feel as well prepared to make wise financial decisions as men.

“The good news for women is that they are more likely to ask for help from a financial professional, a smart move no matter where you are in terms of retirement preparedness,” says Caroline Feeney, president of Agency Distribution at Prudential. “It’s not surprising to learn that women who work with advisors are more likely to report being on track for meeting their retirement goals.”

At a time when women are taking greater responsibility for their own and their families’ finances, it is also time for women to take the lead when it comes to saving and investing. While the task can seem daunting and even a bit intimidating, the truth is simply educating yourself about various products and services can boost your financial I.Q. and your confidence. One good place to start is the Prudential Financial website section for women ( The site includes helpful life-stage checklists, easy-to-understand guides to financial products and services, and first-person financial accounts that provide encouragement and support.

Even if men are from Mars and women are from Venus, getting real-world financial planning assistance now can help both sexes prepare for a more secure financial future.