These are some of the insights emerging from the sixth annual Advisor Authority study, powered by the Nationwide Retirement Institute. Last year, over 2,500 investors, advisors and financial professionals were surveyed about many of the critical issues they were facing in midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, it was important to know how the pandemic was affecting women investors, the level of confidence they had in their existing financial plans and the outlook for their financial futures.

Women’s Concerns on the Rise

As the COVID-19 pandemic has persisted, women investors have grown more concerned about their finances and feel less prepared for the future than they’ve been in years.

One study found:

  • Nearly three in four (72%) women with investable assets of $100,000 or more said the pandemic had negatively impacted their ability to retire.
  • More than two in ten (22%) said they would delay taking retirement income in the next 12 months due to the pandemic’s impact.
  • Less than one-third of women investors (32%) had an optimistic financial outlook in 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a financial impact on men too, but the study revealed a significant preparation gap; women were somewhat less likely than men to have a strategy in place to protect their assets against market risk (60% vs 67%). Moreover, women were more than twice as likely as men to say they didn’t know if they have a strategy at all (15% vs 7%).

The Good News

For the first time since the Advisor Authority study was launched in 2015, more than two-thirds of women reported working with an advisor or financial professional—a nearly 10-point increase in 2020 over 2019 (67% vs 58%). Five years ago, that number was under 50%.

Why have women been so reluctant to work with financial advisors? Part of the reason comes from competing priorities—balancing the demands of daily life with the need to plan for the future. Many women are also navigating immense uncertainty, raising families while caring for aging parents, living longer and facing the prospect of higher healthcare costs.

For me, this topic hits close to home. The inspiration and role model behind my career as an entrepreneur and financial advisor was my mother, Nellie R. Gowdy. A woman ahead of her time, she owned and operated her own beauty salon (Nellie's Beauty Salon) for 45 years up until her death in 2012.

Today, women are not only the head of the household in many situations, they are also business owners, nurses, doctors, realtors, accountants, lawyers and corporate executives. The need for financial advice has never been greater.

The Next Step

Women are acutely aware of the financial challenges they face, but it’s critical they take the necessary steps to address the gaps in their retirement plans. Advisors and financial professionals have an opportunity and a responsibility to understand the needs of their female clients and to help them establish holistic plans for their financial future.

As a financial advisor, I never underestimate the importance of building trust and nurturing strong relationships with women clients. The number one reason women gave for choosing to work with advisors was to feel more confident about their financial future.

Many women want non-judgmental spaces to ask questions about financial planning and seek partners who will address their specific concerns. By adopting a holistic approach to planning that includes risk management, tax and estate planning and insurance, advisors can help women clients feel more confident in their ability to reach their financial goals.

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Gowdy Financial Group, LLC., is a Fee-Only, Financial Advisory firm dedicated to helping women, from all backgrounds and income levels, get out of debt, save toward your goals and enjoy the freedom that comes with being in control of your money. "We don't sell products, we provide solutions. Your Goals. Our Solutions." Serving Clients Nationwide.