Women gain financial fortitude

Nov 1, 2004 @ 12:01 am

By Charles Paikert

NEW YORK - Women have become increasingly confident in their investing abilities but still feel they need to become more knowledgeable about investment basics, according to a new survey by OppenheimerFunds Inc.

The study also showed that while women are often responsible for budgeting and paying bills at home, they aren't entrusted to select long-term investments for their families. But women who work with financial advisers are more likely to be comfortable with their money.

"We're encouraged that women - and in particular, women who engage financial advisers - are more confident investors than ever before," said Lauren Coulston, assistant vice president and advocacy manager for OppenheimerFunds of New York. "However, there is progress to be made when it comes to women's knowledge of investment terms and vehicles."

When asked to rate themselves on how well they managed their money on a scale of 1 to 10, 40% of the surveyed women rated themselves an 8 or higher. Yet nearly 60% said they didn't understand how a mutual fund works.

Despite feeling more knowledgeable than they did five years earlier, 80% of the women surveyed said they wished they had learned more about investing while growing up. Sixty-one percent said they were responsible for paying bills, while 26% said they were responsible for buying and selling stocks, bonds and mutual funds, and just 21% said they worked with a financial adviser.

Eve Kaplan, principal of Kaplan Financial Advisors LLC in Berkeley Heights, N.J., said she doesn't see much of a gender gap in terms of financial knowledge. But she said she has noticed that women feel more comfortable using an adviser, particularly a female adviser.

"Males tend to overwhelm them," Ms. Kaplan said. "Women tend to want to hear more-bite-sized, understandable explanations."

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