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Women need to be more actively involved in long-term financial decision-making, suggests new research from UBS Group AG. The research found that too often men handle the long-term planning for high net-worth (HNW) families, leaving women’s financial security in peril over the long run.

UBS surveyed 3,700 HNW women in nine countries. It found that most wealthy women handle their households’ daily expenses, while men take care of long-term financial decisions.

“This divided approach leaves many women ill-prepared to manage financial needs after critical moments in their lives, such as divorce or the death of their partner,” the research report noted.

The experience of women who are either widowed or divorced indicates the risks women face if they are not involved in long-term financial decisions. The report noted that 74% of the widowed and divorced women it surveyed reported “discovering negative financial surprises after a divorce or death of their spouse.”

The report added that 76% of these respondents “wish they had been more involved in long-term financial decisions while they were married, rather than trying to navigate them while coping with such significant life changes.”

UBS noted that most HNW women are well aware of long-term financial needs, such as retirement planning (76%), long-term care (72%), and insurance (68%), but that only 23% of women take charge of these sorts of decisions.

The survey also found that millennials are slightly less likely than older women (aged 50+) to take the lead in long-term financial planning.

“Most younger women say they have more urgent responsibilities than investing and financial planning. They also are most likely to believe their spouses know more about long-term finances than they do,” the firm stated.

UBS maintains that this situation must change, and that both spouses should be working together on their long-term planning.

“When 58% of women around the world — including millennials — defer to men on important financial decisions, we need to ask why,” said Paula Polito, global client strategy officer and group managing director, UBS Wealth Management. “This dynamic could go on for generations to come, unless both men and women make a commitment to engage in financial decisions together.”

The survey included 2,251 married women with at least US$1 million in investible assets; and 1,401 women who were either divorced or widowed with at least US$250,000 in investible assets.