What Wealth Means to Affluent Women

The non-affluent tend to view the affluent as lucky. The affluent themselves often see matters differently. In polling conducted for Citi’s Women & Co., well-to-do women were more apt to ascribe their wealth to expertise and fiscal virtue.

The polling was fielded by Synovate between December 2007 and July 2008 among women age 40-70 who have at least one daughter, have at least some responsibility for the household’s investment decisions and have at least $100,000 in investable assets. One question asked them to rate the importance of some factors in helping them prosper. Ninety-four percent cited “hard work” as very or somewhat important. Nearly as many said the same about “discipline” (93 percent), “intelligence” (90 percent) and “skillful investing”(85 percent). Fewer than half (42 percent) credited “luck.”

One part of the survey suggests affluent women are more likely to view their wealth as a safety net than as a means of wild self-indulgence. Given a list of words and asked to pick the one they most associate with “wealth,” 55 percent of respondents chose “security.” “Freedom” was a distant runner-up (18 percent), just ahead of “choices” (17 percent). Many fewer opted for “sharing” (5 percent), “power” (2 percent), “pleasure” (2 percent), “status” (1 percent) or “greed” (1 percent). Self-employed women had an above-average propensity to associate wealth with “freedom” (27 percent).

Just 35 percent of respondents had a positive female role model when it came to financial matters. But many are determined to fill that role for their own daughters. Among those with a girl 15 or older, 94 percent said they discuss “financial topics” with them — nearly double the number saying their own mothers broached such topics.