Me, My Money and I: The Growing Financial Autonomy of UK Women

Women are becoming wealthier, and taking increased control of their wealth. Among the findings of a new Netwealth report is the discovery that nearly a third of UK women (29%), who are currently in or have been in a relationship, do not share any financial assets with their partner. This highlights a growing trend of financial autonomy among women as they look to accumulate, manage and preserve their wealth.1

  • New research identifies a behavioural shift in the way women manage their wealth driven by a desire for financial independence
  • Growth of female financial autonomy with 29% of women that have been in a relationship choosing not to share assets with their partner
  • Generational shift with women aged 16-34 the most likely to keep assets separate from their partner
  • Backdrop of later-in-life marriages, higher divorce rates and increased financial earnings causing women to reassess approach to managing their money

Me, my money and I: the growing financial autonomy of UK women – which you can read in full here - details how a desire for greater financial independence and control is driving behavioural change among women. This drive is occurring as they look to take more ownership of their personal wealth against a backdrop of social change including rising female salaries, marrying later in life and high divorce rates.

Younger women are displaying the highest levels of financial autonomy. Those aged 16-34 are the least likely age group to share their personal financial assets (31%) with their respective partners, compared to 26% of those aged 55+.

Need for control, independence and security driving greater ownership over wealth

Almost half (45%) of women holding wealth separately from their partners are doing so to maintain financial independence. Two fifths (40%) of women prefer to manage their money as they wish, while 15% of women do not believe their partner is entitled to their assets.

With the average UK woman now marrying at the age of 352, most likely following several years of earning their own salary and managing this independently, it is understandable that fewer women are willing to cede control of their finances.

The desire to maintain financial control and independence is found to be more important among UK women, with fewer men citing these factors as motivations behind their decision to hold personal assets independently.

Table 1: Motivations for choosing to hold assets independently

Reasons for holding assets independently Men Women
So I can maintain financial independence 37% 45%
So I can manage my money as I wish 36% 40%
So I can spend my money as I wish 23% 26%
To provide a financial safety net in the event of a split 21% 23%
I do not believe my partner is entitled to my assets 11% 15%

The perceived need to establish a financial safety net in the event of a split is particularly high among younger generations of women. With two in five (42%) marriages now ending in divorce3, the trend suggests a more pragmatic approach to the management of household wealth, with 25% of UK women aged 16-34 keeping their assets separate for security, compared to just 15% of women aged 55+.

Wealthier women more likely to keep their income and savings separate from partner

As women’s earnings increase, so too does the likelihood of them keeping assets such as their monthly income and savings separate from their partner. Almost one-in-three women earning £45,000 or more do not share their long-term savings with their partner (29%) in comparison to just 18% of those earning £45,000 or less.

Graph 1: Assets held outright based on women’s income

This trend indicates that as women’s financial firepower increases, there is a greater sense of ownership of these assets, and a further decline in adopting a joint approach to their financial management. Women are also finding services that are in tune with their specific needs, as this video shows.

"Investing is a crucial area of personal finance that is often still perceived to be a 'man’s game'." says Netwealth's CEO Charlotte Ransom. "By failing to participate, women are crucially missing out on the opportunity to grow their investments year on year to help close the wealth gap."

"The industry needs to work harder to recognise the financial power of women. Together we must develop improved services that enable female clients to retain a real sense of ownership and control over their wealth."

Please remember that when investing your capital is at risk.
Our advisers offer restricted advice that relates to Netwealth’s products and services and does not consider the whole market. Netwealth does not provide tax or legal advice.

1 Research conducted by Censuswide. The first survey reached 2,007 respondents aged 16+ in GB between 22.05.19 and 29.05.19 and the second survey reached 1,869 respondents aged 16+ in GB who are or have been in a previous relationship between 03.06.19 and 05.06.19. Censuswide abide by, and employ members of, the Market Research Society based on the ESOMAR principles.
2 ONS Marriages in England and Wales, March 2019
3 ONS Divorce Statistics, September 2018

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