Investment risk is like a box of take-away doughnuts

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henrietta oxlade

henrietta oxladeI observed an interesting behavioural trait in my office last week. It was our mortgage broker’s birthday – and he brought in a massive box of assorted doughnuts (it seems to be the new thing to bring in cakes on your own birthday – we’ll be buying our own massive cards and taking them round the office for messages and signatures next!).

100% of the men that I watched, took a doughnut from the box, started eating it immediately, and munched it walking back to their desks. By the time they had sat down, the doughnut was over.

Every single female that took a doughnut took it back to their desk before starting to eat it. A couple went and made a cup of tea before taking the first bite.

doughnutsIt got me thinking – why was this? Were the men busier than the girls, unable to take an unscheduled two minutes out of the working day?  Were they hungrier? Was the doughnut not as special to them as it was to the more dietary aware females?  Or was this just one of those things?

So last week, I started looking out for other marked differences between the sexes.

Before getting involved in any kind of investment, and as part of the financial planning process, I always ask my clients to complete an Investment Risk Assessment Questionnaire. This helps me to understand their capacity for risk, and helps me with my recommendations. Of the couples that I went through this process with last week, 100% of the females turned out to be higher risk than their partners!  For some reason I found this surprising.  Even though I am a female in a financial world, I still half expect the sexes to revert to old fashioned stereotype: the sensible female protecting the nest, and the male speculating to accumulate…

My final observation from last week was that the female of the relationship seemed to be more likely to have a proper grasp of household income and outgoings.  Once again, it was only the girls that managed to bring spread-sheets to meetings with a detailed breakdown of expenditure.  The boys mostly knew the final figure – but not the detail.

However, I know that last week was just a snapshot – the reality is that people’s fear or otherwise of losing money is a very personal thing, and you cannot generalise between the sexes regarding attitude to investment risk, nor can you anticipate which half of a couple will have a more accurate idea of direct debits.

I think men will always eat cakes while standing, though.

Henrietta Oxlade is an Independent Financial Planner with Radcliffe & Newlands and MyFamilyClub’s in-house finance sage! She has been advising individual clients since March 1988, which is why many of her clients consider her part of the family. If you want to contact Henrietta, email us on editorial@myfamilyclub.co.uk and we’ll put you in touch.