Report explores couples’ relationship with money and what inequality in financial decision-making could ultimately cost them

While couples agree on the importance of both partners engaging in financial decisions to achieve true gender equality, half of married women continue to defer to their spouses

Millennial women are the most likely generation to defer financial decision-making to their spouses, but are most open to changing that dynamic 

New York, NY, May 6, 2021 – Despite decades of incremental progress, UBS’s Own Your Worth(PDF, 1 MB) report finds that nearly half of the women (48%) surveyed said their spouse takes responsibility for long-term financial decisions such as investing, financial and estate planning. This year’s report surveyed 1,500 high-net-worth men and women in marriages or partnerships and showed that while women continue to make strides in the workplace, there is still a long way to go in achieving equality at home. Surprisingly, only one in five (20%) couples say they make financial decisions together, but overwhelmingly believe that unless women are equally involved in these decisions, there will never be true gender equality.

During the pandemic, stereotypical gender roles became exacerbated among couples when it came to discussing their wealth. According to the report, women defer to spouses because they believe they lack the knowledge (82%), the interest (73%) or the time to participate in the financial discussions, as they largely shoulder the burden of household responsibilities (78%).

Men who take responsibility for the long-term financial decisions overwhelmingly feel they have greater financial knowledge than their spouse (95%), that their spouse is disinterested in these topics (90%) or that their spouse is busy with household obligations (84%). Furthermore, seven in 10 men don’t trust their spouse to make good choices and, in the event of a divorce, believe they are in a better position to protect their assets if they are the lead decision-maker.

“It’s hard to believe that in 2021 only 20% of couples are equal partners in investing. Old gender norms and stereotypes still hold too many women back,” said Paula Polito, Divisional Vice Chairwoman at UBS Global Wealth Management. “Ironically, men and women agree that to have true gender equality, women need to participate in money matters. Yet, even with the world changing in so many other ways, we are still not making enough progress on this front.”

Millennials are behind the curve on sharing financial responsibility, but are most open to change

When surveying millennials, the generation most notably focused on equality, the report found that wealthy millennial women surprisingly defer financial decision-making to their spouses – more so than any other age group.

Half of millennial women (51%) stated that their spouse is responsible for long-term finances and three quarters of men (75%) agreed that they take the lead. However, the report notes that this generation is seemingly the most open to change. Nearly all (94%) millennial men want their wives to be more involved in these decisions, and 69% of millennial women who currently defer also want to be more involved—showing there is room for progress.

Lack of communication is preventing couples from feeling more confident in their financial futures   

The report showed that there are gaps in perception and a lack of communication amongst couples, which can prevent them from making long-term financial decisions together. Sixty nine percent of men claim they take the lead on long-term financial decisions. While men believe only a small portion of women take the lead (11%), the report found that 30% of women claim they do—a 19% gap in perception.

Most men who take the lead (nine out of 10) want their spouse to be more involved in long-term financial decision-making. On the contrary, only 57% of women who defer wish to be more involved.

The benefits of collaborating are significant. Seven in 10 couples said sharing responsibilities in financial decisions would foster a better sense of financial security and make them feel more confident in their financial futures. Eight in 10 women believe that equal involvement would make them feel more prepared if something happened to their spouse, such as disability, illness, or death.

To learn about previous reports in the series, visit:

Notes to Editors

About UBS Global Wealth Management

As the world's largest wealth manager, UBS Global Wealth Management provides comprehensive advice, solutions and services to wealthy families and individuals around the world. Clients who work with UBS benefit from a fully integrated set of wealth management capabilities and expertise, including wealth planning, investment management, capital markets, banking, lending and institutional and corporate financial advice.

About UBS

UBS provides financial advice and solutions to wealthy, institutional and corporate clients worldwide, as well as private clients in Switzerland. UBS's strategy is centered on our leading global wealth management business and our premier universal bank in Switzerland, enhanced by Asset Management and the Investment Bank. The bank focuses on businesses that have a strong competitive position in their targeted markets, are capital efficient, and have an attractive long-term structural growth or profitability outlook.

UBS is present in all major financial centers worldwide. It has offices in more than 50 regions and locations, with about 30% of its employees working in the Americas, 31% in Switzerland, 19% in the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Africa and 20% in Asia Pacific. UBS Group AG employs over 68,000 people around the world. Its shares are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

Media Contact:

Laura Hastings
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