Most of us would probably agree that men and women frequently behave differently, and these differences often show up in professional, family and social situations. Of course, this certainly doesn’t mean either gender has an advantage in these areas. However, here’s an interesting question: Do women possess attributes that may make them better investors?
Some evidence suggests this may indeed be the case. Consider the following:
- Long-term focus. Women seem to focus more on long-term goals, according to some studies, whereas men may concentrate more on short-term track records of potential investments. Generally speaking, taking a long-term approach to investing is a good strategy because it can help you maintain discipline and avoid subjecting yourself to the dangers of overreacting to market swings. One such danger is selling an investment whose price may have dropped but may still have strong fundamentals and good prospects.
- Less frequent trading. A well-known study from the University of California found that men traded investments 45% more frequently than women. Other, more recent studies have produced somewhat different results, but the overall picture does seem to show that women do significantly less buying and selling than men. This tendency is important because frequent trading can undercut a long-term, cohesive investment strategy. If you’re constantly buying and selling, you won’t give some investments a chance to achieve their full growth potential, and you might disrupt the diversification necessary for long-term success.
- More thoughtful decisions and more receptiveness to professional advice. Women take more time to make investment decisions than men, and more readily accept investment recommendations from financial professionals, according to a survey from InvestmentNews. And women are more likely to consult a professional financial advisor in the first place, according to a study from the Spectrem Group, a financial research firm. Given the number of factors involved in successful investing—setting long-term goals, evaluating risk tolerance, navigating volatile financial markets, diversifying investment portfolios, and so on—it’s important to get solid financial and investment advice from trained, experienced professionals.
- Greater risk aversion. When it comes to savings and investing, women are generally more risk averse than men, according to a large-scale survey by BlackRock, a global investment management firm, and supported by numerous other surveys and studies. Having a greater risk aversion can help women investors reduce the likelihood of incurring short-term losses from highly volatile or speculative investments. Nonetheless, it’s not really possible to avoid all investment risk—and it’s probably not even desirable. In fact, there may well be a flip side to women’s risk avoidance, in that an overly conservative portfolio won’t produce the growth potential needed to achieve long-term goals. And this indeed is a danger to which women investors should be alert. Generally speaking, neither excessive risk nor excessive caution will serve investors well.
A willingness to take advice from professionals, a long-term perspective, avoidance of excess trading, and careful risk management—these characteristics of women investors can be of value to everyone. Consider putting them to work for yourself.