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Freedom Or Generosity: What Money Means To UK Men And Women

14 February 2017

Sally Yates, Head of Marketing for EQ Paymaster asks: Is it the power of love or just plain power?

According to a scientific survey* of 100,000 UK men and women, women are twice as likely to associate money with generosity while men are twice as likely to link it to freedom.

We already know that, in general, men are better prepared for their financial future, that they are more confident in taking longer term financial decisions and that they will take more risk. So can money pathology offer some further insight? Can it help inform how we can help women to do more to bolster their own financial future?

In the survey, men appeared to associate money with freedom and power. By contrast, women generally associated money with love and generosity. In a financial services industry deemed ‘too masculine’ by many women, perhaps we should be focussing on what women value in money in order to help shape better financial futures.


Here’s the current state of play. Women are already behind with pensions by their 30s. One third of 25-29 year old women don’t know the best way to save for retirement. 90% of women are off track for a comfortable retirement.

Overall, women have a tendency to focus spending on the here and now - they prioritise spending on childcare, family, holidays, beauty - so naturally feel more confident dealing with day-to-day finances. That’s a good sign – by 2020 a majority of women of all ages will be in charge of every household financial decision.  But what of longer term planning.

One women I heard quoted recently said: "I have no faith in pensions at all, the time when you used to pay into a pension scheme and it’s secure and guaranteed is gone."

Perception is pivotal here. Women take less risks when it comes to money, they absolutely do want to have a secure financial future but it needs to be low risk. As the retirement planning market evolves, this means creating solutions that are adaptable to women’s life needs as well as their values. They also need to lock in a positive financial future in retirement.

The researchers of the Sex Differences in Money Pathology in the General Population said of the survey:


It has been argued that sex differences in money beliefs and behaviours are essentially a product of structural institutions and socialisation and can therefore be relearned.

It goes without saying that some women in the survey did associate money with autonomy and for some men it meant love but this wasn’t the overall picture. Women’s engagement with lifetime savings will surely come sooner if their values are also taken into account.

* Reference: Sex Differences in Money Pathology in the General Population

For further information on this subject, please speak with your Equiniti relationship manager.

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