Gunjan Kedia and Amy Zehnder discuss U.S. Bank Women and Wealth Insights Study

March 05, 2020

The new study explores women’s relationships with money.

U.S. Bank recently conducted a survey to better understand women’s relationship with money. We asked 1,515 women and 1,486 men of all ages key questions about their hopes and fears around money, how they manage their money and from whom they seek advice, how they engage, and how confident they are about managing their personal finances.

Gunjan Kedia, Vice Chair, Wealth Management and Investment Services and Amy Zehnder U.S. Bank wealth dynamics coach, discuss the results, what surprised them and what U.S. Bank is doing with the results.

Why do a survey like this? What were you hoping to learn?

Kedia: U.S. Bank would like to be an advocate for women throughout their financial lives. So instead of just telling women what to do with their finances or wealth, we made an effort to listen to them. Really listen. We kicked off our Women and Wealth initiative by holding a series of listening tours with women across the country, with the goal of better understanding their relationship with money. As we held these tours, we started to see common themes emerge. We used the survey to reach a larger population of both men and women to explore these themes more deeply. While we know that women have more money and power than ever before, the survey results tell us they aren’t getting the most out of it.

Amy, you have a Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology. How does that help you with clients? 

Zehnder: In my role, I work with clients who have a net worth in excess of $75 million. This is family wealth that can last across generations, so as you can imagine, that comes with a lot of complexity. In this country, many people feel like it’s taboo to talk about money. But those conversations are critical. My goal is to give clients a safe space to look at the relationship they have with money and have those courageous conversations. My education gives me credibility in that arena.

Did anything in the survey results surprise you?

Kedia: One thing that surprised me was what we’re calling the “engagement gap.” Simply put, women don’t engage with their money as much as men. I was surprised to see how little women enjoy this, but we found that there are three specific actions that people who feel confident about their finances take.

What is your outlook on the future of women and money?

Kedia: My hope is that “women and money” will become a topic that future generations of women will look back on and wonder why this ever needed to be talked about. Everything taboo at one point is now accepted … women wearing pants to work … women choosing not to have children … we hope discussing women’s relationship with money becomes an uninteresting, commonplace topic because it’s omnipresent.

Zehnder: I feel encouraged by the results. Even though there is that engagement gap, we’re seeing that women in younger generations are more excited about engaging with money. One thing that I’d like to see is for women to decide what money messages are still serving them and eliminate those that are not. 

For example, we frequently hear messages from our parents or our peers, like, “It’s bad manners to talk about money” or “I don’t have enough money to start investing” or “It’s too early to talk to my kids about money.” Which of these messages have you found to be true? Are there any that you can dismiss, making it easier for you to approach your finances with more enjoyment?

What is U.S. Bank doing with the results?

Kedia: The results show us that there are tangible differences between how men and women think about money. We’re using that information to become that much more effective at serving all types of clients. We’re also using the data to prioritize the products and services that we create. In addition to the listening tours, we’ve made changes to how we organize our spaces and created My Financial Identity – a financial education program for the teenage children of clients.

What is one thing women can do to do improve their finances?

Zehnder: I’d like to see women make their finances a priority. We all make the time for things we think are important, whether that’s raising children or eating healthy or balancing household chores. Take the time to educate yourself and make it a goal to get good at managing your finances.

Kedia: Get started, that’s it. Don’t overthink it. Just get started.

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