Although American women are increasingly better educated and likely to have careers, they're still uncertain about their financial futures, according to a study released Tuesday.
When asked "How secure do you feel financially?" just 10 percent of the women respondents said they felt extremely secure, the survey found. Fifty-seven percent said they felt somewhat secure, and 33 percent said they didn't feel secure at all.
"It was the most eye-opening aspect of the study," said Mark A. Zesbaugh, president and chief executive of Allianz Life, one of the sponsors of the study "Women, Money and Power."
Women's feelings about money are important because they are increasingly likely to find themselves responsible for managing their own financial affairs. Some never marry, others outlive husbands and divorce is a common phenomenon in American society.
The role women want for themselves in changing, too, said Ken Dychtwald, an expert on aging and president of the Age Wave research and advisory service in San Francisco.
"The historical pattern was that men earned a family's livelihood, bought insurance, dealt with stocks and bonds," Dychtwald said. "Women took care of the household and domestic finances."
But women are taking on more of a family's overall financial responsibilities now as they earn more — sometimes more than their husbands — and seek more equality in their relationships.
"It's a transition, like the time when women were first entering in the work force in large numbers in the '60s," Dychtwald said.
Asked what the barriers were to getting involved in managing savings and investments, more than 40 percent of the women surveyed said a lack of knowledge was the biggest impediment. Others said they found finances to be confusing or said they were too busy with families or their careers.
They're also insecure, the study showed. For example, 51 percent said they were perceptive people, but just 13 percent said they were perceptive about money and investing; 46 percent said they were intuitive, but just 11 percent said they were intuitive about money and investing.
Asked what they would advise their daughters or granddaughters, older women suggested that the younger women should start planning early, become knowledgeable about investing and not become dependent on others for financial security. They also suggested the younger women develop a financial plan and put money aside "that is just yours."
"Talking their language"
Allianz' Zesbaugh noted that about 40 percent of women have worked with a financial adviser and that those who have describe themselves as more responsible and confident about money. What they want from advisers, he added, was less worry, less aggressive investing, more simplicity and easier access to understandable information.
"I'm not sure that is what is available now" for women from financial advisers, Zesbaugh said. "We need to react appropriately to make sure the right materials are available ... and that advisers are talking their language."
The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive and involved nearly 3,200 adults, including about 1,200 men and 2,000 women.
The Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, which is based in Minneapolis, is a division of Munich-based Allianz AG.