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Women and Wealth: The Unique Financial Needs of Women

Q&A with Capital Advantage Senior Financial Advisor Donna Zinman, CRPC®

Over the past 25+ years that I’ve been working in financial services, I’ve noticed differences in women’s financial planning needs and approaches to investing versus men.

Women’s roles in the home and the workforce have changed significantly from my mother’s era, when the traditional role of a woman was a homemaker and mother. Times have changed.

Women now comprise half of the workforce1, and nearly half of all women are the primary breadwinners in their households.2 Over 51% of the wealth in the U.S. is controlled by women3 and 90% of women will be solely responsible for their financial well-being within their lifetime.4 So, it is more important than ever that we as women understand personal finance and have a plan.

Q:  What are the unique women’s financial planning needs you see?

A: Women should plan to save more funds for retirement since they typically live longer than men. Life expectancy for women at birth is 81 years versus 76 for men.5 Also, women tend to save less as they earn on average 21% less than men do6 and have on average 12 fewer years of earned income than men due to caregiving responsibilities.7

Q: What differences do you see between men and women investors?

A: This is a generalization, but in my experience, many women and men do show particular tendencies. Women investors are naturally more careful and conservative with money. Additionally, women are usually more patient, and are more likely to ride out poor performing markets. I’ve found that women tend to be more risk adverse and typically hold greater funds in cash and bonds (versus riskier stocks). I’ve also found women to be financially less competitive: women tend to refrain from discussing money, usually considering the topic impolite, while men discuss investing like it’s a sport!

Women are long-term planning oriented. When I meet with a married couple, typically the man will be more interested in recent performance while the woman will want to review the long-term plan, viewing money as a means to an end. Women typically view money as a security blanket, with a primary goal of having enough, and fear running out of money during retirement. Men tend to focus on growth and wealth accumulation.

Q: Are there any studies done on the investing behavior of men and women?

A: Yes, the most well-known is one from the University of California Davis. The study showed that men trade 45% more frequently than women due to overconfidence and viewing investing as a competitive sport.8 Women, on average, have better performance than men due to less trading volume as this saves on taxes and trading costs.

Q: You’ve noted that as women, we need more funds for retirement to cover a longer lifespan and we typically have less savings than men. So, how can we make sure we are financially healthy?

A: It’s important to have a solid financial plan. A financial plan helps determine your unique financial needs, your short-and long-term financial goals, and how to meet those goals. A solid financial plan covers these 6 key areas:

    1. Emergency Cash Fund: Set aside 6 months to 1 year of expenses in cash. When something unexpected comes up, your emergency cash fund protects you from having to withdraw from your long-term investments.
    2. Risk Management: Take a close look at your insurance policies and eliminate unnecessary coverage. If you are retired, odds are you do not need life insurance as you do not have dependents. If you are still driving and/or you own a home, you need umbrella liability coverage to protect your assets.
    3. Estate Planning: Make sure you have a current trust with an incapacity clause. If you had a stroke, who would pay your bills and who would make medical and financial decisions? Make sure your beneficiaries are current. Many of us opened accounts decades ago and beneficiaries may need to be updated.
    4. Investment Tax Planning: Place less tax-efficient investments like bonds in non-taxable accounts, and more tax efficient investments (like dividend-paying stocks) in taxable accounts.
    5. Goals Planning:
      For a Pre-Retiree: Contribute the maximum to your 401(k) plan to meet your employer match. Complete a retirement plan to calculate how much money you need to retire comfortably, and how much you need to save monthly in order to do so. Set up an automatic savings plan.
      For a Retiree: Complete a retirement plan to know how much you can withdraw each year and not outlive your funds.
    6. Investment Management: Make sure your portfolio is invested for your goals. Do you have the correct mix of stocks and bonds? Is your portfolio positioned for the upcoming economy?


Q: Where can women go for financial planning and investing help?

A: My advice to all women, is to find a financial advisor, such as those at Capital Advantage, Inc., that can assist you with both retirement planning and managing your investments. Having a plan is the best way to take control of your financial future and gain peace of mind.


1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Current Population Survey,” 2019, 2. “Prudential’s Financial Wellness Census,” 2018, 3. FPA.org, “Gender Bias and Practice Profiles in the Selection of a Financial Advisor,” 2019, 4. Social Security Administration, 2017, 5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018, 6. U.S. Senate Joint Economic Committee 2016 report, 7. “Women and Caregiving: Facts & Figures” study, National Center on Caregiving, 2015, 8. “Boys will be Boys: Gender, Overconfidence, and Common Stock Investment by Brad M. Barber and Terrance Odean, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, February 2001

Author Profile

Donna Zinman

The Author: Donna Zinman

Donna Zinman is a Principal and Senior Financial Advisor at Capital Advantage. She is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC®) and an Investment Advisor Representative. As a Senior Financial Advisor, she is part of the investment team and is responsible for establishing new client relationships, managing investment portfolios and financial planning, as well as firm marketing and human resource management. Donna specializes in working with women in transition: about to retire, newly retired, widowed or divorced.