Women of exceptional affluence are increasingly taking control of wealth management in their families, reflecting larger societal shifts that have taken place over the last several decades according to a new study.  The study also reveals that affluent women are choosing more active methods of guiding the next generation in wealth planning.  “The New Wealth Paradigm: How affluent women are taking control of their futures,” by Wilmington Trust and Campden Research in association with Relative Solutions, shows that women are seeking a holistic approach to wealth management, which includes establishing family governance structures and fostering dialogue, particularly with their children, about wealth management.  The research, which was conducted in autumn 2008, includes a survey of 40 women, aged 40 to 65 with a minimum net worth of $25 million and at least one child. Just under half of the participants inherited their wealth, while the remaining half are almost evenly split between those who created their wealth and those whose husbands are the source of their wealth.

 

“More than anything, the women in our study view their wealth as a source of empowerment to achieve their goals and independence,” said Cynthia A. Conway, marketing manager for Wilmington Trust’s Wealth Advisory Services business. “Unlike their fathers and mothers, who tended to view wealth as a demonstration of their success in life, these women view their wealth primarily as a means to pursue a path that reflects their deepest values and their desire to serve their communities.”  While the women surveyed said they were raised in households with traditional views of a woman’s role, they emerged with a commitment to develop their professional skills and to be viewed in their families and communities as having equal opportunities and status as men, Conway added.  “We are in the midst of a significant shift in the wealth paradigm,” said Mindy Rosenthal, co-author of the study and North American managing director at Campden Media. “This is an important trend. Women are stepping up to new levels of involvement in the management of their families’ wealth, with 88% of those in the study playing a high-to-moderate role in the management of family assets. At the same time, they want to be more open with their children about family wealth, but they fear mishandling the discussions.”  As a result, there is a significant opportunity for advisors who can help women with all aspects of wealth planning, including asset management, estate planning, family governance, and wealth education, Rosenthal added.  “The study participants see a vital role for wealth education in families,” said Fredda Herz Brown, Ph.D, principal of Relative Solutions. “Women want their wealth to provide fuller, more focused lives for their children and they seek to work with advisors who understand their financial, personal, and familial goals. By learning about the life experiences of their clients, and how wealth affects them and what they want for the next generation, advisors can become more effective in meeting their clients’ needs and serving them.”

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