UBS Own Your Worth Report Finds That Only 20% of Couples Participate Equally in Financial Decisions
Despite decades of incremental progress, UBS’s Own Your Worth report finds that nearly half of the women (48%) surveyed said their spouse takes responsibility for long-term financial decisions such as investing, financial and estate planning. This year’s report surveyed 1,500 high-net-worth men and women in marriages or partnerships and showed that while women continue to make strides in the workplace, there is still a long way to go in achieving equality at home. Surprisingly, only one in five (20%) couples say they make financial decisions together, but overwhelmingly believe that unless women are equally involved in these decisions, there will never be true gender equality.
During the pandemic, stereotypical gender roles became exacerbated among couples when it came to discussing their wealth. According to the report, women defer to spouses because they believe they lack the knowledge (82%), the interest (73%) or the time to participate in the financial discussions, as they largely shoulder the burden of household responsibilities (78%).
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Men who take responsibility for the long-term financial decisions overwhelmingly feel they have greater financial knowledge than their spouse (95%), that their spouse is disinterested in these topics (90%) or that their spouse is busy with household obligations (84%). Furthermore, seven in 10 men don’t trust their spouse to make good choices and, in the event of a divorce, believe they are in a better position to protect their assets if they are the lead decision-maker.
“It’s hard to believe that in 2021 only 20% of couples are equal partners in investing. Old gender norms and stereotypes still hold too many women back,” said Paula Polito, Divisional Vice Chairwoman at UBS Global Wealth Management. “Ironically, men and women agree that to have true gender equality, women need to participate in money matters. Yet, even with the world changing in so many other ways, we are still not making enough progress on this front.”
Millennials are behind the curve on sharing financial responsibility, but are most open to change
When surveying millennials, the generation most notably focused on equality, the report found that wealthy millennial women surprisingly defer financial decision-making to their spouses – more so than any other age group.
Half of millennial women (51%) stated that their spouse is responsible for long-term finances and three quarters of men (75%) agreed that they take the lead. However, the report notes that this generation is seemingly the most open to change. Nearly all (94%) millennial men want their wives to be more involved in these decisions, and 69% of millennial women who currently defer also want to be more involved—showing there is room for progress.