woman with a laptop

Canadian women control $2.2 trillion of financial assets and that number is expected to “rise quickly” to just under $3.8 trillion over the next decade, according to a report from Toronto-based CIBC World Markets Inc.

That would represent one-third of total financial assets in the Canadian economy, according to The Changing Landscape of Women’s Wealth, by CIBC Capital Markets economists Benjamin Tal and Katherine Judge.

“For the wealth management profession, this won’t be business as usual,” the report says. “This trend will demand that much greater attention be given to planning and advice for women whose financial journeys often vary from those of men.”

The report found that women aged 25 and older have accounted for 52% of job growth in full-time positions since the 2008 recession, and women over 55 have seen labour market participation rates rise by almost twice the rate of men during the same time.

These shifts in the labour market have effects at home: “in families in which there is an employed woman in the core-working age demographic, women’s earnings now account for a record-high 47% of family income, almost double the share seen in the 1970s,” the report says.

The report points to a number of reasons for this shift in economic clout. First, women tend to outlive men and get married earlier than men, which usually means wealth accumulated during a marriage ends up in women’s hands in the final decades of life.

But unmarried women are also controlling more wealth than before, as single women and divorcees increase their involvement in the workforce, “resetting historical priorities” when it comes to the balance between work and family.

There is room for improvement, though: women still earn less than men in over 95% of occupations, the report says, adding that “for both high- and low-paying occupations, that gap is shrinking, albeit not fast enough.”