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Executive Women Survey: Insights on Finance and Home Life


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A survey on approaches and attitudes reveals where executive women and executive men diverge.

Do executive women tend to be more conservative investors than their male counterparts? Are their financial goals geared primarily toward family? Which gender places a greater priority on sustainable investing?

In its ongoing efforts to better understand and serve clients, Northern Trust’s FlexShares Exchange Traded Funds conducted a survey last year of 211 and 250 high net worth primary breadwinner executive women and executive men, respectively, on their approaches and attitudes to investing, career and home life. As you will see, the results contradicted a number of gender stereotypes across an array of areas, including risk attributes, investor objectives and lifestyle preferences.

Below, we present snapshots of the survey that illustrate the greatest divergences between executive women and executive men.

For the full report, visit:

Finance and Investing

Executive women embrace risk

Executive women were only half as likely (14% vs. 31%) as their male counterparts to identify as conservative investors. And they were on par (26% vs. 27%) with executive men in identifying as either moderately aggressive or aggressive investors.

Executive women prioritize planning

Executive men identified providing for future generations as their top financial priority. But the primary goals for executive women were preparing for the worst and planning for retirement.

Executive women focus on income generating investments

The survey revealed that executive women cited income generation and capital appreciation as their first and second investment priorities. The order was reversed for executive men.

Executive women have less interest in sustainable investing than executive men

Although executive women were definitely interested in sustainable investing, they were less interested than executive men.

Home Life

Most executive women do not feel positive about being the primary breadwinner

Only a third (32%) of executive women felt positive about their role as a primary breadwinner, versus more than half (54%) of executive men. In fact, 43% of women, compared to 17% of executive men, felt negative about their role.

Executive women are more comfortable with work-life balance than executive men

The executive women polled in the survey felt better about work-life balance than their male peers.

Executive women experience less guilt than executive men

The executive men in the survey felt greater guilt than executive women both when they were working and at home not working.

Executive women report owning less financial decisions and slightly less child-rearing responsibilities than executive men

More than half of executive men survey respondents felt that they did a majority of the work across nearly all household responsibilities.

Executive women feel less pressure to manage household finances than executive men

While all respondents were significantly involved in all household financial decisions, executive women felt less pressure from their spouse to run point on household financial duties.

For the full report, visit:

The Northern Trust Institute is dedicated to understanding the needs of executive women. To build a plan that is better attuned to your unique financial goals and reflects your risk tolerance in a more intuitive way, contact an advisor for more information on Northern Trust’s services for executives.

FlexShares Exchange Traded Funds offers differentiated ETF strategies that seek to help investors achieve real-world goals by providing products and solutions that allow advisors to construct, allocate and manage outcome-oriented portfolios.

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FlexShares engaged third-party research firm Riedel Strategy to conduct a national survey of high-net worth primary breadwinners. From March 25, 2019 to April 19, 2019, an online survey was conducted and 461 HNW executives responded – 211 women and 250 men. To qualify for the survey respondents needed to contribute at least half of their household income. The minimum household income required for study participation was $200,000. Participants also had to have liquid assets of at least $1 million (not including 401k or primary residence) or at least $250,000 if aged 35-39. Average age of survey participants was 47. The survey focused on four types of questions: demographics, investor profile, household financial role and client experience.


This information is not intended to be and should not be treated as legal, investment, accounting or tax advice and is for informational purposes only. Readers, including professionals, should under no circumstances rely upon this information as a substitute for their own research or for obtaining specific legal, accounting or tax advice from their own counsel. All information discussed herein is current only as of the date appearing in this material and is subject to change at any time without notice.

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