Women and wealth: tips on how to empower yourself

Women experience the life journey much differently than men. Your wealth management firm – and your advisor – should understand your needs, preferences and behaviours as a female investor and offer strategic advice to meet them.

Unique life circumstances women face:

Women live longer than men

In Canada, life expectancy for women is 83.9 years for women, versus 79.8 for men.

The bottom line: The average age for widowhood is 56, making planning for the possibility of this life transition a critical part of your financial plan.

Women earn less than men

In 2020, a woman in Canada earned 0.89 cents for every dollar a man earned. That’s equivalent to a $3.52 hourly wage rate gap (or 11 percent) between men and women and translates into lower overall savings. In fact, according to a 2021 report, women retire with 30 per cent less wealth than their male counterparts.

The bottom line: On average, women experience a savings rate gap of nearly one per cent (0.81 per cent), meaning they need to work two years longer than men to be financially prepared for retirement.

Women tend to be more conservative with their money

Research shows that men are typically more confident than women when it comes to investing and taking risks with their money. This doesn’t mean women are more risk averse, rather they are risk aware. Women tend to focus on wealth in terms of security, rather than opportunity.

The bottom line: While being a more conservative investor isn’t necessarily a bad thing, being too conservative may mean your money won’t get the returns you need to meet retirement or other long-term goals.

More women take on a caregiver role

Canada’s aging population coupled with a renewed spotlight on the realities of long-term care homes during the pandemic, means that many families may experience a greater financial burden when it comes to caregiving. Many women take on the responsibility of caring for aging or ill parents – in some cases stepping away from the workforce and missing on a smooth career trajectory, pay raises and retirement contributions.

The bottom line: Women tend to prioritize their loved ones’ financial needs, often putting their own retirement plans at risk.

Women tend to experience decline in lifestyle post-divorce

Divorce isn’t easy for anyone but for women it can come with more financial challenges, particularly for those who haven’t been closely involved in family finances and who may have relied on their husbands for financial security. Already faced with an earnings gap issue, many women may have focused more on short-term financial priorities rather than building retirement assets.

The bottom line: Rebuilding assets and adapting to an increased cost of living, not to mention court and legal fees, can mean having to rethink lifestyle and retirement decisions.

Women tend to defer finances to their partner

Studies show that many women defer long-term financial decisions to their spouses, putting their own retirement savings at risk and leaving them ill-equipped for life without a partner. For many, a lack of financial literacy is to blame. According to Statistics Canada's 2014 Canadian Financial Capability Survey, only 31 per cent of women considered themselves to be financially knowledgeable compared with 43 per cent of men.

The bottom line: While women are increasingly taking responsibility for their financial wellbeing and retirement planning, lack of financial literacy can lead to poor financial decisions.

The future of wealth is female

Average hourly wage for women has increased by 20.5% in the last 20 years1

Women control 32% of the world’s wealth, and are adding $5 trillion to the wealth pool globally every year2

70% of millennial women say that they take the lead in all financial decisions, compared with just 40% of female baby boomers3

Women influence up to 80% of the buying decisions worldwide4

1Stats Can (2018), The gender wage gap in Canada

2BCG survey, Managing the Next Decade of Women’s Wealth | BCG

3BCG survey, Managing the Next Decade of Women’s Wealth | BCG

4Deloitte (2014), The gender dividend

3 steps to financial empowerment

On International Women’s Day and beyond, we can help empower you yourself to make informed decisions about your financial future. Here’s where to start:

1. Knowledge is power 

Knowledge is power. The best way to make informed decisions about your money and your financial future is to educate yourself. Start by understanding foundational concepts like budgeting, emergency planning, managing your debt and investing. A great place to start is Canada’s financial literacy blog that outlines practical money management tips and money-related topics.

2. Plan

“The most important thing we can do for ourselves to deal with transition, unexpected loss and unexpected life events, is to plan. And the sooner we have a plan in place, the better,” says Sarah Widmeyer, SVP, Wealth Strategies at Richardson Wealth. Key things to consider include organizing your documents, understanding your financial situation, and creating an estate plan that includes updating your will.

3. Get the right financial advice

Working with an authentic advisor who you trust and who treats you as an individual with unique needs is crucial. We can work with you to create a personalized approach that meets your financial objectives and personal goals.



We can help you increase your financial knowledge base, build confidence in your goals and design a portfolio aligned with your priorities. Please contact us.