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Women start slow, invest well, studies show Focus on facts, not emotions, found to pay off.


CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Women tend to lack confidence and experience in stock market investing. When they do decide to move in, though, watch out. They're good.

At least those are results of a couple of recent surveys.

Oppenheimer Funds and Shearson Lehman Brothers both conducted a nationwide survey of men and women to find out differences in their investment philosophies. And, yes, they found some.

"What came through in the survey is what I've found in my own dealings," said Gerry Smith, a certified financial planner at the uptown Charlotte office of Shearson. "As a whole, women have as much money to invest as men, but they lack the training and confidence."

That men know more about investment than women isn't particularly surprising. Men traditionally have controlled the household investment strategies. But things are changing.

"Women are getting more involved and have been over the last five to 10 years," said Margaret Atkins, a broker in the Charlotte office of Smith Barney.

The realization that many marriages don't last, the growth of two-income couples and the gap between men's and women's life spans have fueled the growth of female investors, said Ms. Atkins.

"Women are more inclined to take a conservative, long-term approach to investing," said Ms. Smith. "I've confirmed that right down the line with clients I've had in 13 years in the business. Women look at the facts and are less emotional about an investment."

If you've never invested in stocks, but want to, here are some tips -- and these apply to men and women:

Talk to friends who have been successful investors. Ask about their relationships with their brokers.

Read. Magazines such as Money and Kiplinger's Personal Finance are easy for novices.

Tiptoe into the market. You can put a little money in to see how you like it, then add gradually.

If someone guarantees you a terrific rate of return, walk out. Terrific returns come with terrific risks.

Oppenheimer offers a free booklet called "Women and Investing." To order, call (800) 892-4442.

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