Two major trends are profoundly impacting women. One, women are living longer – longer than men. Two, nearly half of marriages are likely to end in divorce, with rising rates among couples over 50. Inevitably, many women will become widows or divorcees – and eight out of 10 women will be solely responsible for their financial well-being. Some women will be ready. Many won’t.

UBS Wealth Management USA recently published a whitepaper report entitled “Own your worth,” which revealed that 56% of married women leave investment and financial decisions to their husbands with 85% of them believing that their husbands know more about financial matters and investment topics. The majority of women (80%) are content with the current distribution of financial responsibilities in spite of the overwhelming research that 8 out of 10 women will end up alone, due to divorce or widowhood.

More than half of divorcees and widows discover financial surprises, such as outdated wills and debts, and previous UBS research shows that 85% of couples will need long-term care during their lifetimes, with most women outliving their husbands. This can lead to women’s greatest fear of becoming a burden to their children.

IGNORING THE WARNINGS

59% of widows and divorcees regret not being involved in long-term financial planning while married and nearly all (97%) say they would encourage women to take steps to educate themselves about their finances now with 98% advising them to take an active role in their finances. They take their own advice, and 8 out of 10 women who remarry assume a more active role in financial decisions.

“The twin forces of longer life expectancies and high rates of divorce have produced a sobering likelihood, that more women will end up alone and solely responsible for their financial well-being,” said Paula Polito, Global Client Strategy Officer of UBS Global Wealth Management. “What’s most concerning is that women are more educated, successful and outspoken than ever, yet 60% continue to abdicate important financial decisions that affect their future.”

WE’VE COME A LONG WAY…OR HAVE WE?

Despite living in an age of empowerment, the majority of women still waive their participation in long-term financial decisions. The consequences of abdicating responsibility for long-term financial decisions lead many women to struggle after divorce or the death of their spouses.

Family dynamics, societal norms and the belief that financial companies have not historically catered to women were identified as top factors. The report revealed that more than half of married women leave investment and long-term financial planning decisions to their husbands. Of these women, 8 in 10 like this arrangement, even though the long-term decisions their husbands are making typically have a more lasting impact on the family’s wealth

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