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Are Women Better Investors?

In most marriages the husband oversees financial matters. But is that a good thing? Certainly, every household is different. In my house my wife oversees most of the bill paying and budgeting, and I handle the investments and financial planning. Similar divisions of duties are common. Some of the deference to having men handle financial matters goes back decades. But as woman have increasingly gained financial independence, it seems their role as financial decision maker hasn’t kept pace.

Several studies indicate that couples would probably be better off if the wife was more involved in financial decision-making. I suspect a couple of dynamics are in play. First, men tend to be overconfident, not just in investing, but in all aspects of life. Call it “testosterone syndrome.” While confidence might help secure a mate on the savannah, when it comes to investing overconfidence is a detriment.  

Women also tend to be calmer during periods of stress. Maybe this too has something to do with hunter versus gatherer. As a result, women tend to not panic sell during periods of market turmoil. Whether due to being calmer or less confident several studies have shown that women's portfolios tend to outperform men. 

Irrespective of whether the husband or wife has the primary financial oversight responsibility, I’m a big proponent of having both spouses informed and engaged when it comes to financial matters. While a division of duties is practical (especially in the more administrative aspects of finance) it is critically important for key financial decisions to have input from both husband and wife. The data indicates in most cases better outcomes are the result!