Embracing change: How affluent women stay focused on the future

A woman and child playing on the beach

Affluent women share how they manage through change and unpredictability

The one certainty about life is that it’s always changing — in all directions. And while we can’t predict what will happen, we can manage the ways change impacts us. Wells Fargo conducted research with affluent women across a spectrum of wealth — from emerging affluent to ultra-high-net-worth — to better understand how women prepare for and manage the unpredictability of life.

Through our research, four distinct areas emerged in which women play a particularly active and engaged role:

They are great managers of uncertainty

Infographic of 9 out of ten women see themselves as resilient in times of uncertainty

More than 9 out of 10 see themselves as resilient in times of uncertainty

They are active in varied forms of financial decision-making

Role in household financial decision-making

Infographic of Primary and Shared decision-making percentages

Role in household financial decision-making

Primary 43%
Shared 53%

The approach to financial decisions often changes with:

Wealth growth: Affects spending, risk tolerance, philanthropy, and inheritance.

Spousal role changes: Life events can add new responsibilities.

Parenting: Women take the lead in educating children financially.

Infographic of behaviors listed in the transcript below.

Research respondents indicated that:

73%  Take the lead in instilling financial values in children
72%  Would value help from an advisor in educating children financially
27%  Advisor currently helps educate children financially

They are leaders in several areas, including financial education

Areas in which women see themselves as leaders:

Infographic of participation levels described in transcript below.

Research respondents indicated their level of involvement in these areas:

68%   Family
60%   Finances
55%   Health

They are communicators and respond to open and honest dialogue

Open communicators, engaged learners

Research insights also indicated women want advisors to explain things simply, with open and informative conversations. The message we heard from the research is clear: “Teach, don’t tell. Guide me, but don’t condescend.” It’s important for all women to stay engaged and involved, even at times when they’re not solely responsible for financial decision-making. Staying engaged helps women feel more empowered.

Topics women want to discuss with advisors:

Infographic of the percentages and phrases listed in the transcript below.

1. Insurance products are offered through non-bank insurance agency affiliates of Wells Fargo & Company and are underwritten by unaffiliated insurance companies. Not available in all states.

Topics women want to discuss with advisors:

Wealth transfer 57%
Asset protection 1 53%
Financial acumen 53%
Family & financial dynamics 37%

These insights are meant to spark conversations between clients and advisors that are relevant, inspiring, and actionable — to help women make informed decisions with confidence and plan for what matters most.

The quantitative survey included 2,195 women, conducted between January 4 and January 18, 2021. 1,680 women with household assets of $250,000 or more, and 515 women (ages 25 to 40) with fewer assets but a household income of $100,000 or more were included. Qualitative research was also conducted by phone or Zoom interviews between January 12 and February 16, 2021. These women were current Wells Fargo Private Bank clients, with at least $10 million in Wells Fargo assets and more than $25 million in total net worth. Sampling was stratified by assets and income, weighted to population estimates from the Federal Reserve's 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances. Assuming no sample bias, the maximum margin of sampling error for the full sample is +-2%.