The evolution of the internet has led to increased transparency of financial services and is empowering women to make banking decisions through research, comparison shopping and social interaction directly with banking sites, independent blogs and social networking groups. In the United Kingdom only 3% of adults in 1999 used the internet for banking, which has risen to 28% today and is estimated to reach 80% by 2020 based on the research by the “future foundation“, an Experian company.

While research indicates women are becoming more dominant in personal and family household financial management, they are lagging behind the curve and have failed to adapt to using online financial products and investment advice. In particularly the “Consumer Focus Tech Savvy Study” found that females were less accepting in using the internet for financial products and investment advice with only 13% of respondents 18 to 24 years old and 17% of the 25 to 34 year-old group actively participating.

A research study “50 Years of Savings: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow” conducted by the “future foundation” in the United Kingdom has identified trends that suggest that “more women are making the big money decisions and that women will have the final say in big financial decisions than men by 2057.” The study concluded that “when it comes to couple’s financial matters, the future of finance is female and as a consequence banks will require increased personal relationships with social interaction”. Women are significantly more likely to bring broader ‘values-led’ agendas to bear on consumption choices than men.

A finding in the report interestingly notes that the gender sexism of the ‘50s could be reversed as women become more qualified in financial matters, out-earn men and take on the lion’s share of domestic administration, we could see the “father knows best” attitude replaced with “mum knows best” as men surrender control of finances to their partners.

A comparison of behavioral trends in financial management found in the report indicates that from the 1950’s to today society has moved from an era in which women, while responsible for financial survival of the household, were kept in the dark about their husbands earnings and in many cases were denied independent access to financial services. Today, men still narrowly hold the balance of power in financial decisions; most partners now share equally in major decisions.

The collaborative gap however can still be seen across generations (see below data) from MainStay Investments. As women take on more decision making responsibilities related to financial management they will be demanding increased equality in the decision process:

According to the “future foundation” study, the relationship between men and women has moved from the whole wage system in the 1950 in which one partner kept some spending/savings secret to a more transparent approach in which finances of each partner are known but controlled more individualistically today. Looking outward to mid-2050 it is anticipated that women will be better qualified and out-earn men in the pre-family life stage. Being accustomed to managing their own financial well-being will result in individual asset holding with financial obligations to family negotiated on an individual contribution basis.

A US based study identified that by 2006 women had overtaken men as users for online bill payment.

In a recent “Luxury Institute” survey of women in US households with $150,000 or more in annual income, women made 64% of buying decisions. Women in these affluent households had varying levels of influence in different areas: 68% made the buying choices for ovens’, ranges and refrigerators, and 61% were responsible for family vacation decisions. About half handled healthcare decisions and home improvement purchases. When it came to family investments, 22% of wealthy women who were married made all the decisions by themselves and two thirds made them jointly. A full 46% were responsible for the family’s bank accounts. More than three out of 10 women in wealthy households said they dealt with real estate purchases for the family, and four out of 10 respondents had the final word in the family regarding cars and consumer electronics.

A recent “Mintel” study notes that the Generation Y age group between 14 and 31 makes up just 5% of financial advisers’ client base, while they form 21% of the US population. Members of this demographic are highly engaged online, making the Internet a prime place to reach them. Young adults are an untapped market for retirement and financial advisers. According to the “Mintel” study 69% of Generation Y workers who are eligible for a 401(k) plan are not enrolled in a plan.

Banking and Financial Institutions will need new collaborative approaches and tools to engage a population that has embraced the exchange of information and collaborative decision making through social dialogue with their peers. The following table clearly outlines the source of information for financial decisions and while not surprising that family and friends are the key influencers, banking institutions should be well aware of how this group is migrating into social networks. Friends and family and the Internet can be considered two way communication streams while newspapers, TV and radio, direct mail and the banks themselves can be viewed as one way communication channels.

This “blog” was prepared by MyBankTracker and incorporates information and content from a number of sources cited in the article.

MyBankTracker is a new social networking service designed to leverage the collaborative capabilities of social interaction between members to identify bank and financial institutions that are deemed to offer the best in class quality and customer services. Offering real time rates and current promotional and product offerings on one site, site allows the user community to share their individual experience with banking institutions ranking them for consideration by the rest of the community.

MyBankTracker will continue to present articles that increase user awareness on trends in the banking industry with a particular focuses on affected user groups and the evolution of collaborative online social networking.

The entire “future foundation” research study titled “50 Years of Savings: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow” can be found at

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