The Female Investment Strategy and Why it Works

Recent research shows that women’s investment returns are, on average, higher than those of men.

Remember when a woman was told that the best investment she could make was finding herself a husband?

Times sure have changed. A survey by personal-finance site DailyWorth showed that 76 percent of women act as their household’s primary retirement planner.

Why? Maybe because women do it better.

Finance professors Brad Barber and Terrance Odean found that women’s investment returns are, on average, one percentage point higher annually than those of men.

So what are women doing differently from men that result in higher yields?

In general, women:

1. Are more conservative with their investments. A Charles Schwab study found men hold a higher percentage of stocks, while women focus more on safer investments such as certificates of deposit.

In addition to having more conservative holdings, women also behave more cautiously. Six in 10 women choose to protect their assets rather than taking risks to earn more, while men generally act in order to increase profit and status. In a University of Michigan study, males were found to trade 56% more than females, and the more they traded, the worse the outcome.

2. Think to the future. According to a report by private research firm The Spectrum Group, women see the potential of investments in the long-term. They tend to base their financial decisions on future concerns such as retirement funds, their child’s college education or assistance for their elderly parents.

Men, on the other hand, are more likely to sell soon after an asset begins to underperform as opposed to waiting it out, according to a study in the Quarterly Journal of Economics.

3. Seek advice. An additional Spectrum survey found that 46% of affluent and 82% of high-net-worth women consult financial advisors. According to Hewitt Associates and Financial Engines, those who follow informed financial advice on average see annual returns of two percentage points higher a year.

The Handbook of Consumer Finance Research found that men tend to prefer to learn and make mistakes on their own instead of asking professionals for help.

4. Are realists. A nationwide Society of Actuaries survey found that women anticipate spending more money during retirement, while men are less willing to acknowledge factors such as physical and health challenges that will require more savings.

Women are less optimistic and attribute success to outside factors, like luck, as opposed to men who tend to be overconfident about the role they play in favorable portfolio returns. Men feel as if they have more control than they do, leading them to take more risks, while women view investments as uncertain, at the whim of fortune and fate.

Women are often criticized for being too conservative with their earnings. After all, high risk equals high reward, and continually playing it safe means missing out on possible boosts to your portfolio in the form of big returns on higher-risk investments.

However, if women take the advice of the financial planners they consult, or that of their adventurous husbands, they can balance out their risk-averse habits with a healthy amount of gambling.


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