Mother Knows Best… About Important Financial Topics

Study: Moms and dads teach their children differently

BOSTON–()–Fidelity Investments® today released the third installment of its Intra-Family Generational Finance Study, which highlights the different approaches mothers and fathers take when discussing financial topics with their adult children. The study reveals mothers have substantially more detailed conversations on topics ranging from health care needs to living expenses in retirement.

In fact, the study found considerably more mothers than fathers report having had comprehensive discussions with their adult children about estate planning or wills (79 percent of mothers vs. 69 percent of fathers), health and eldercare topics (66 percent vs. 56 percent), and the ability to cover living expenses in retirement (70 percent vs. 55 percent).

“We encourage all families to engage in detailed conversations on these financial topics, and as this research indicates, starting the discussion with mom may be a good strategy,” said Lauren Brouhard, senior vice president, Fidelity Investments. “Regardless of whom these conversations begin with, discussions about finances are deeply personal and very difficult, and often even taboo in some families. Planning together and learning from one another on a broad range of financial topics can have a positive impact on your family.”

Parents Have Different Approaches When Talking About Finances

Mothers are more than twice as likely to describe themselves as “the empathizer” in the family vs. fathers (15 percent vs. 6 percent). In addition, they find it easier to talk with their adult children about issues surrounding their personal economy. In fact, 64 percent of mothers surveyed say it is “not at all difficult” to start a conversation with their child about their savings and investments – vs. 54 percent of fathers. Quite often, fathers believe they take a more straightforward approach with their adult children. More than half of the fathers (54 percent) see themselves as “the pragmatist” when having financial conversations with their adult children.

As a result, adult children speaking with mom get more details on their parents’ retirement plans, and may be able to avoid miscommunication in the future. For example, more mothers (13 percent vs. 3 percent of fathers) are planning on an adult child caring for them if they become ill, while more fathers (47 percent vs. 32 percent of mothers) are counting on their spouse—both important details for adult children to be aware of when talking with parents. In addition, the study highlights that significantly more fathers (40 percent vs. 26 percent of mothers) are worried that their spouse won’t be financially prepared if they pass away first—another important fact for adult children to note when speaking with parents about mom’s and dad’s financial future.

Resources Available to Help Families Facilitate Financial Discussions for Planning Ahead

To help parents and their adult children develop strategies to protect and pass on wealth to future generations, increase peace of mind and help reduce anxiety, Fidelity has thousands of trained investment professionals to help investors make informed decisions about retirement planning. In addition, the Personal Economy web page on has Conversation Starter tips on how to speak openly with people interested in topics like retirement planning, caring for elderly parents and inheritance strategies. Fidelity also has published a new Viewpoints article called “Need financial advice: Talk to mom” that provides tips on how to improve family communication.

Mothers are more than twice as likely to describe themselves as “the empathizer” in the family vs. fathers (15 percent vs. 6 percent). In addition, they find it easier to talk with their adult children about issues surrounding their personal economy

About the Study
The Fidelity Personal Economy Intra-Family Finance Generational study was conducted online among U.S. parents and their adult children by GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communication using GfK’s KnowledgePanel® during the period of July 24 – August 29, 2012. To qualify, parents had to be at least 55 years of age, have an adult child older than 30 and have investible assets of at least $100,000. Their children qualified if they were at least 30 years of age, had money saved in an IRA, 401(k) or other investment account. In addition, they must have at least $10,000 saved.

For more information on the first report, which uncovered substantial communications gaps within families on critical financial matters, or the second report, which revealed the top three money mistakes parents think their children make and vice versa, please visit the online newsroom on Additionally, an executive summary and infographics can be found on

About Fidelity Investments
Fidelity Investments is one of the world’s largest providers of financial services, with assets under administration of $4.1 trillion, including managed assets of $1.7 trillion, as of March 31, 2013. Founded in 1946, the firm is a leading provider of investment management, retirement planning, portfolio guidance, brokerage, benefits outsourcing and many other financial products and services to more than 20 million individuals and institutions, as well as through 5,000 financial intermediary firms. For more information about Fidelity Investments,