Women taking control of money, lack confidence: poll

NEW YORK Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:27pm EDT

A customer pays her lunch bill at the Other Side Cafe in Boston, Massachusetts October 1, 2009. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

A customer pays her lunch bill at the Other Side Cafe in Boston, Massachusetts October 1, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nearly all women in the United States are involved in household finance decisions and one-fourth of them are in control, yet many lack confidence in their fiscal management abilities, a study found on Tuesday.

According to the fifth biennial Prudential Financial survey, "Financial Experience and Behaviors Among Women," women's involvement in household decisions about money has grown by about a third in the past decade.

More than 95 percent of women are involved in financial decisions, with one-fourth acting as primary decision-makers, but their financial confidence has failed to improve and was further weakened by the U.S. recession, it found.

"Women were not spared from the impact of the financial crisis in any way, shape or form," Joan Cleveland, Prudential's senior vice president, told a panel discussion to launch the survey. "Women's financial confidence was shaken."

More than six in 10 women rely on family and friends for financial advice, but 70 percent would like more sound advice. They feel "there's no one I can trust," said Cleveland.

She said the online survey of 1,250 women, conducted from February 10 to 26, found 38 percent did not understand stocks, 43 percent did not understand mutual funds and 53 percent did not understand annuities.

"The good thing is though this economic crisis overall has really heightened women's recognition of their need to develop a financial plan to meet their long-term goals," Cleveland said. "But only about a third of them have started down that path and that number gets even worse the younger they are."

One third of women surveyed said they "need a lot of help" planning their financial future. As a result of the recession, 56 percent now plan to work longer and 20 percent wonder if they will be able to retire on time.

"Women are aware, they are more involved and in terms of financial decision-making, financial literacy, we have made significant strides over the past decade, but we've really got a ways to go still," Cleveland said.

The study of sole or joint heads of households ages 25 to 64 had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points. The full study can been found at www.prudential.com/women.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Mohammad Zargham)

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