Among Canadian women who hold investments, 92 percent say they are either the primary or joint financial decision-makers in their households – yet only around 50 percent feel confident or knowledgeable about their investing abilities, according to a new poll conducted by CIBC.

“Women are leaning in and making major decisions on wealth and financial planning for themselves and their family,” Sarah Widmeyer, managing director and head of wealth strategies at CIBC, said in a news release. “However, our poll findings clearly show there is more work to be done to help women build confidence. A conversation only about investment returns isn’t enough for most women. They want to know how an investment strategy will help them achieve their goals.”

Of that 92 percent of Canadian women with investment portfolios who are the primary or equal decision-maker responsible for their household’s investment decisions, 46 percent say they’re the main decision-maker; 46 percent share the responsibility equally with a spouse, parent or adult child, and seven percent defer responsibility to someone else.

According to the poll, the average age when women start to invest is 29; 73 percent do not talk about investing regularly with their friends and family.

The poll findings show that women tend to be conservative investors, unwilling to take on higher risk to achieve the possibility of greater investment returns. When thinking about their investment portfolio, they identified safety as being very important to them (72 percent), then growth (58 percent), and liquidity (33 percent).

Women with a retirement portfolio currently invest their retirement savings primarily in guaranteed and savings products (48 percent), stocks including mutual funds (37 percent), and bonds including mutual funds (14 percent). Thinking about their future investment plans, more women plan to invest in guaranteed and savings products (55 percent) over stocks (29 percent) and bonds (17 percent).


“Women tend to view wealth in terms of security rather than opportunity,” Ms. Widmeyer added. “That can be an issue if you’re saving for a long-term goal like retirement. It’s not the investments so much as what it is you’re investing for that matters. My advice is to work with your financial advisor to figure out your financial objectives – whether it’s paying for a child’s education, buying a house, helping a parent, or trekking the globe in retirement – and learn how investment strategies can ladder up to meet your specific goals.”

The poll also found that 70 percent of women say volatility in the stock market makes them nervous about investing and 69 percent prefer socially responsible investments.

Millennial women (aged 18-34) are nearly twice as likely to manage their investments themselves, through an online or discount broker, and more apt to seek advice from friends and family than Generation X (aged 35-54) and Boomers (aged 55+). Still, the vast majority of millennials (76 percent) admit they find investing “confusing.”

“It’s encouraging to see younger women taking charge of their investments and openly discussing and seeking advice,” said Ms. Widmeyer. “This is an enormous win for women, but it’s clear that more work is needed to build confidence. … When you look past the market noise, volatility and jargon, investing is quite simple. Asking questions and having conversations can help you match your goals with the appropriate investing strategy.”


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Bo Ramone

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