Exclusive self-test helps women identify aspects of their personality that motivate and hinder them in making smart money choices

New York, January 19, 1995

Contact: Dr. Christopher L. Hayes (516) 283-4827 

A womans personality matters far more than her income, age or marital status when it comes to making financial decisions, finds a groundbreaking, national study of 4,200 American women. It is the first report to establish specific links between a woman's personality and her financial behavior. The Women Cents Study, developed by the National Center for Women and Retirement Research (NCWRR) and underwritten by Prudential Securities, uncovers what prevents many women from investing their money more aggressively, what helps them make smart choices and what they can do to manage their finances better. 

Among the major findings of the study, conducted by NCWRR Executive Director and Long Island University Professor Christopher L. Hayes, are:

  • Assertiveness, openness to change and an optimistic outlook are the qualities that tend to lead to smart money choices. Women with these characteristics are more likely to set specific financial goals, save and invest regularly, make retirement planning a priority and educate themselves about money management. For example, 58% of women feel in control of the direction their life is taking; 42% do not. Of those who feel in control, 56% save and invest on a monthly basis and 33% make saving and investing for retirement a top priority. In contrast, 39% of those who dont feel in charge save and invest regularly and only 17% make saving and investing for retirement a top priority. 
  • Fear of failure and fear of the unknown are the biggest obstacles to a womans financial success. Three-quarters (74%) of respondents say lack of knowledge about how to select financial instruments is the biggest stumbling block to becoming more active investors. More than half (54%) of the women surveyed have postponed financial decisions for fear of making a mistake; 58% worry after making a big decision about money. 
  • Women are happiest when they actively save and invest (44%), but only one in four (26%) consider saving and investing for retirement a top priority. When they do save and invest, most (88%) choose overly-conservative investments, such as money market accounts and CDs that may ultimately undermine their financial security. 
  • No matter what their personality type may be, women now seem to have the right ideas about money and investing, finds the report. Nine in ten (94%) believe that women are as capable as men when it comes to understanding money and investing. Some 88% profess to be open to new investment opportunities. More than three-quarters (78%) would prefer to be the one in the family who makes the financial decisions---and more than half (60%) actually do. 
The biggest motivator for women to invest? A sense of security, finds the study. More than nine in ten (96%) of the women polled say the desire for financial independence is what drives them to build an investment portfolio. 

While women are increasingly adopting healthy attitudes about money, psychological traits prevent them from acting on those beliefs. The bottom line of the research indicates that fear of failure and fear of the unknown represent the greatest obstacles for contemporary women investing for the future, says Dr. Hayes, psychology professor at L.I.U.'s Southampton College. By addressing risk, women can make investment choices that they will not second guess. 

This study shows that effective money management is within the grasp of all women, whatever their marital status, income or life situation, said Ronna Lichtenberg, Senior Vice President/Director of Marketing for Prudential Securities, which funded the survey. 

The Women Cents Study was developed by Long Island University's National Center for Women and Retirement Research and underwritten by Prudential Securities. The analysis is based on answers to a 122 item questionnaire asking women across the country about their attitudes toward money and investing, their decision-making style, their feelings about risk and change and other topics related to their personalities and financial styles. Out of a sample of 4,200 women, 1,000 responses were randomly selected. Of the final sample, 60% of respondents had finished college, 47% had household incomes of $50,000 or more and 80% were employed. 

The upcoming book: Money Makeovers: How Women Can Achieve Their Financial Destiny (Doubleday, 1998) by Dr. Christopher L. Hayes and Kate Kelly will contain significant financial strategies for women based on the above study. 


Scudder Baby Boom Survey Analyzes Gender Gap in Financial Planning for Retirement, Attitudes Toward Later Years 

Boston, MA, April 8, 1997

 Contact: Jane Finalborgo, Southampton College, 516 287-8313

 Contact: Meg Pier, Scudder, Stevens, & Clark, 617 295-2175

 Contact: Ed Canaday, Scudder, Stevens, & Clark 212 326-6626 

Women of the Baby Boom generation remain more tentative about their retirement financial planning prowess than Baby Boomer men, but exhibit a more positive attitude about the length, productivity and personal fulfillment of their careers and retirement pursuits, according to a major new survey of the Baby Boom generation by Scudder, Stevens & Clark, Inc. 

Baby Boomer womens confidence in investing and in their financial futures still lags behind mens and with good reason: while women live longer, they have traditionally made less money and have had fewer pension benefits to support their extended lives, said Scudder Managing Director Dudley H. Ladd. But the gap is closing rapidly, especially since Baby Boomer women are pursuing later-life work with more enthusiasm and commitment than men, as shown by the results of our survey. 

The Scudder survey is the first part of a three-year research effort by Scudder to gain a deeper understanding of the Baby Boom generation. It was conducted by the National Center for Women and Retirement Research (NCWRR) at Southampton College of Long Island University, under the direction of Dr. Christopher L. Hayes, executive director of NCWRR. The survey polled 1,140 Baby Boomers with household incomes of at least $30,000. Unlike previous research of this group, the Scudder survey explores not only Baby Boomers current financial habits and attitudes about retirement, but also examines factors that have shaped these behaviors. These factors include the environment, education, lifestyle, work experience and their overall outlook on life. 

Women: Still More Tentative About Retirement Finances Than Men 

Overall, men exhibited a more upbeat attitude about financial planning for retirement than women did. This may be attributed to the fact that men have long considered retirement preparation to be their principal responsibility given their historic role in society, and have had more opportunity to pursue this goal and cultivate a positive attitude about it, said NCWRR's Dr. Hayes, who is also Professor of Psychology at Southampton College. 

The survey found that 43% of women (vs. 36% of Baby Boomers overall) are more likely to rely on friends and family for financial advice, whereas Boomer men are more likely to rely on personal research (76%). Twenty-three percent of men said planning for retirement was their key concern, compared with 17% of women. Women are also more likely to agree that they have not spent enough time planning for retirement, and that they have no idea how much money they will need for a secure retirement. 

Baby Boomer women and men find it difficult to be future-oriented because they are often totally focused on present concerns, albeit of a different variety, said Dr. Hayes. According to the survey, women are more focused on day-to-day priorities, including their childrens schoolwork and reducing credit card debt, while men are more concerned with maintaining their current lifestyles and purchasing a home. 40% of respondents--43% women and 33% men--indicated they felt a lack of financial knowledge. The fact that women more openly acknowledge the need to become more savvy may give them something of an edge over men. Women appear to be more realistic about the degree to which they are prepared. That recognition indicates they have removed the first major obstacle to overcome in adequately arranging for a comfortable retirement, said Scudder's Dudley Ladd 

Women: A Growing Edge over Men When it Comes to Cultivating Positive Attitudes About Work and Later Years 

Many Baby Boomer women are demonstrating more interest in their careers than men, and this bodes well for their financial well-being and their saving and investment activity, said Dr. Hayes. 

The most frequently cited life concern by women was career decision/changes (22% for both men and women), whereas men more frequently cited marriage/relationships (25% for men and 17% for women). Fifty-one percent of Baby Boomer men, but only 45% of women, plan to retire before age 65, and more women (22%) plan on not retiring than men (19%). 

More women see retirement as new opportunities (39% for women vs. 33% for men), whereas men see it as leisure (45% for men vs. 32% for women). Far more women (33% vs. 21% for men) plan to be involved in a cause during retirement. 

We are seeing that women want to enrich their work lives at a time of life when men see themselves reducing their work-related roles, said Dr. Hayes. Women see middle-age as a new frontier for personal and professional growth, and this could result in greater financial parity among men and women. Men, on the other hand, seem to be placing an emphasis beyond what might be expected on relationships and family, implying a heightened degree of social equity between the sexes. 

Founded in 1919, Scudder, Stevens & Clark, Inc. is one of the countrys oldest and largest global investment management firms. Scudder introduced Americas first no-load mutual fund in 1928 and the nations first international fund in 1953. Scudder currently manages nearly $37 billion in two families of open-end funds, the Scudder Funds and the AARP Investment Program from Scudder. 

The National Center for Women and Retirement Research, founded in 1988, focuses on the pre-retirement planning needs of mid-life women. It is based at Southampton College, Long Island University, a multi-campus, doctoral-degree-granting institution that is among the 10 largest private universities in the United States in terms of enrollment. If you wish to contact Dr. Hayes, please call the National Center for Women and Retirement Research at 516/283-4827.


Results Show Anxiety is More Pronounced Among Young and Adult Women, But Significant for Both Sexes

New York, NY, March 19, 1997 

The Dreyfus Corporation released the findings of its Gender Investment Comparison Study, which revealed a significant relationship between levels of comfort with elementary and high school math and financial decision making in later life. The study, conducted in collaboration with the National Center for Women and Retirement Research (NCWRR), compares the financial attitudes, behavior, decision-making, investment history, financial goals and retirement preparation of men and women. 

Based on the first year of a three-year collaboration with NCWRR, the study revealed that adult women had significantly lower levels of math comfort, both in the past and present, than did their male counterparts. This factor correlated with financial attitudes including financial planning, behavior and preparation for retirement. Those with low math comfort were more risk averse, less apt to make investment decisions, fearful of those they did make and less financially prepared for retirement. 

As a result of the findings, Dreyfus and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) are discussing ways in which they can work together to encourage students to further develop their mathematical understanding. Dreyfus' efforts coincide with a national focus on early childhood and youth development. The Presidents' Summit for America's Future, to be held April 27 - 29 in Philadelphia, will focus on providing millions of American children with the fundamental resources, including education, that will help them be successful. The Summit is co-chaired by President Bill Clinton and former President George Bush, with General Colin Powell, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, serving as the summit's general chairman. 

"We embarked on this study to determine the retirement and financial planning habits of men and women, said Christopher M. "Kip" Condron, president and chief executive officer of Dreyfus. "However, we were surprised to find empirical evidence which for the first time clearly demonstrates past experiences with math can set into motion a set of financial attitudes and behaviors that influence our perceptions of money. These financial attitudes can significantly impact the financial future of Americans, both positively and negatively. By conquering 'math anxiety' early in life, Americans are more likely to invest intelligently later on, increase their financial knowledge and worth, and establish a more secure retirement." 

Among the study's most significant findings is the relationship that exists between levels of math comfort as a teenager and the tendency to put off financial decisions later in life for fear of making a mistake. Forty-one percent of male respondents and 28% of female respondents claim to be comfortable with their high school math skills. Nearly half of all respondents (45%) admit to feeling a lack of control over their finances. 

"We were struck by the fact that so many of the survey respondents-nearly half-feel a lack of control over their finances or are having difficulty making investment decisions which will serve them well over the long term," said Mr. Condron. "Dreyfus' goal is to provide investors with the knowledge and guidance they need to feel more comfortable with investing and to make smart financial decisions. Through our wide array of investment products and services, we are continually looking for new ways to help investors feel more in control of their financial lives." 

"Dreyfus is firmly committed to educating the public on the impact early math skills can have on later financial competence and retirement preparedness," said Mr. Condron. "We are looking forward to working with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics to encourage the development of a strong mathematical background." 

Other significant study findings include: 

  • Few respondents had comfort with high school math Fifty-two percent of men and 40% of women claim to have been comfortable with elementary school math while only 41% of men and 28% of women claim to have been comfortable with high school math. 
  • Present math comfort levels impact decision making The study also shows that respondents who feel comfortable with math in the present are less likely to put off financial decisions for fear of making a mistake. Nearly half of men (49%) and only 35% of women claim they are comfortable with their math skills in the present.
"These findings show respondents who are comfortable with math now display a variety of positive money and investing attributes that lead to good retirement planning preparation and a feeling of control over their financial future," said Dr. Christopher L. Hayes, executive director of NCWRR and principal investigator of the study. 

Investors feel lack of control over finances

More women than men (48% vs. 38%) said they feel a lack of control over their finances among those respondents who admitted to having low self-esteem as a teenager (40%). 

Dreyfus offers a wide variety of investment services and educational materials to assist investors, including the Dreyfus Guide to Investing, the Dreyfus Guide to Retirement Planning and the Dreyfus Guide to Investing for College. Dreyfus also recently introduced the Lion Account, an all-in-one investment account that allows investors to centralize all their financial activities-from purchasing securities and investing in mutual funds, to paying bills and having access to on-going financial planning advice-through one account. In addition, the company offers the Dreyfus STEP Program, a low minimum initial investment program. 

The Dreyfus Gender Investment Comparison Study was conducted via mail during August 1996 on 415 men and 872 women between the ages of 18 and 80, whose average household income was $30,000 or more. 

Established in 1988, the NCWRR is the first academic unit in the country to focus on the pre-retirement planning needs of midlife women. NCWRR has conducted more than nine landmark studies on the financial planning needs of women, and conducts educational programs throughout the country on the importance of pre-retirement planning. The center is based at Long Island University's Southampton Campus. The university, one of the United States' 10 largest private universities measured by enrollment, it is a multicampus doctoral degree-granting institution serving the New York metropolitan area. 

Founded in 1920, the NCTM has more than 110,000 members and 260 affiliated groups located throughout the United States and Canada. It is the world's largest organization dedicated to the improvement of mathematics education.