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Gender divide: how men invest differently to women

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It is a question that has intrigued social researchers and behavioural finance thinkers for decades: does gender really influence the way people invest?

From Rice Warner's analysis of some 10 million-plus superannuation member accounts in Australia, it would appear that men are significantly more likely to invest in a choice option than women. Some 26% of males invest in a choice option, compared with 21% of females.

What is driving commonality across the sexes when we might assume some wider variance in expected investment behaviour?

gender and decisions

One explanation is that couples co-ordinate their investment decisions across both of their super accounts.

This only requires one member to be engaged in their super and investing in similar options across both accounts.

Plausible enough. However, it is impossible to test the hypothesis because funds do not know enough about their members, especially marital or partnership status.

However, the picture sharpens - perhaps counterintuitively - when it comes to allocation to growth assets. Across the same sample of members, of all people who selected a choice option the allocation to growth assets differed by only 3% between the sexes, with some 73% versus 70%.

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Nathan Bonarius is a senior consultant with Rice Warner.
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