Canadian women are earning more economic power thanks to a narrowing gender gap in the labour force and more competitive annual wages. However, as they gain more influence in household financial decision making, new research from Mintel reveals that one third (32 percent) of women fear making financial decisions due to a lack of financial knowledge, including 44 percent of Millennial women (age 18-34). What’s more, just one in five (20 percent) women are confident in their ability to be the sole financial decision maker for their household, with 36 percent wishing that they were more confident in making these decisions.

Further to their self-perceived lack of financial savvy, women (42 percent) are less likely than men (56 percent) to make all the financial decisions in their household. In fact, nearly two in five (36 percent) women say they share financial decisions with a significant other, compared to one quarter (25 percent) of men.

61% of women worry that they will not be able to save enough for retirement

Overall, three in five (61 percent) women worry that they will not be able to save enough for retirement (vs 56 percent of men), while just 17 percent are well prepared financially for retirement (vs 21 percent of men).

“Women are less assured than men in their ability to make financial decisions, largely due to a self-perceived lack of confidence in their degree of financial knowledge. Thus, although women traditionally have a great deal of influence on spending decisions, their influence diminishes when it comes to financial planning, and they are more likely than men to jointly share financial responsibilities,” said Sanjay Sharma, Senior Financial Services Analyst at Mintel. “Financial service providers should work with younger couples to ensure that women know as much as their partners about their financial situation and help build women’s confidence in making financial decisions that will ultimately guide them toward financial health for retirement.”

While women are more likely than men to take a back seat in financial decision making, Mintel research reveals that women are more loyal to financial service providers: four in five (79 percent) women tend to stick with the same provider as long as they are satisfied with the service (vs 73 percent of men). Millennial women are more likely to agree (75 percent) with this than Millennial men (68 percent). Further, 56 percent of women overall would be willing to keep all their financial products with one company if there were rewards, including two thirds (67 percent) of Millennial women (vs 61 percent of Millennial men).

What’s more, financial service providers may acquire young women as loyal customers through committed education of their products and services. In fact, three in five (62 percent) Millennial women feel that the Canadian school system does not do a good enough job of teaching students to be financially literate. Another 57 percent of Millennial women agree that they would be in better shape if they had more knowledge of financial issues.

“Women may be less acquainted with financial services, but the loyalty of Millennial women represents a huge opportunity for financial service providers to engage and retain them as customers. In general, younger consumers have fewer financial products and their financial affairs are less complicated, making them more susceptible to consolidating financial products with one provider, especially if they are incentivized to do so,” continued Sharma.

Despite women agreeing that their finances would be in better shape with more financial know-how, financial service providers face challenges with engagement and earning their loyalty. One in five (20 percent) women agree that financial topics are boring compared to just 12 percent of men.

Additionally, Canadian women (11 percent) are much less proactive in researching investment opportunities than Canadian men (23 percent). This is compounded by women being more conservative with their finances: three in 10 (29 percent) do not like to invest in the stock market because it is too risky (vs 22 percent of men), and 35 percent prefer to be conservative in their investments even if it means sacrificing higher returns (vs 31 percent of men).

“It is not a simple task for financial service providers to circumvent boredom of financial topics and conservative financial behaviors, especially as consumers witness Canada’s weak economic growth and a ‘bunker mentality’ kicks in. As such, providers must be dedicated in highlighting the importance of adopting a more open mindset toward investing early in adulthood and must outline the positive effects it will have on female consumers’ long-term financial situation,” concluded Sharma.

Press copies of the Marketing Financial Services to Women Canada 2016 report and interviews with Sanjay Sharma, Senior Financial Services Analyst, are available on request from the press office.

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