Editor’s note: Margaret Rorick is SVP at ENGINE Insights. This is an edited version of a post originally published under the title, “Engaging the female financial decision-maker.” 

Over the past year or so, I have heard several of my larger bank and brokerage firm clients voice interest in finding ways to engage females. There seems to be a recognition of the influence that women have on financial decisions in the household, and there is an appetite to figure out what makes them tick.

It makes sense. Females have been involved with (or driving) financial decisions for decades, and according to a recent Merrill Lynch study, married women 45 years and younger are twice as likely as older married women to make the financial decisions for their families. We all see the shifting demographics that could be driving this – women are marrying later, getting more education and working more, and are more often the primary breadwinner for their families than they have been in the past.

For banks and brokerage firms trying to understand how to connect with these decision makers, the challenge is real. They share many of the same needs, attitudes and behaviors with their male counterparts, but the ways they stand out are what make them more difficult to engage. While they have comparable confidence in their own abilities to manage their finances and are equally hampered by debt, females are less likely to enjoy investing, be involved with actively managing their accounts or looking for new ways to manage their money. These are all things that make them harder to engage as banking or brokerage customers.

Even as this past year has brought household finances into the forefront of our minds, women have not responded with the same engagement as men, also making it harder to attract their attention. Though the pandemic has made everyone want to watch their accounts more closely and get help planning, and ...