An alarming gender gap in financial confidence has been uncovered, with a nation of ‘worrying women’ contributing to the record lack of confidence in Australia’s economy, Million Dollar Woman research has found.

Million Dollar Woman’s Financial Confidence Report (see Notes) measures the confidence levels of ‘working Australians’(1) and found only 1.4 million working Australian women (30%) are confident that Australia will avoid an economic downturn. (1 Australians aged 18-64 years of age with paid employment being the main source of income for the household.)

This compares to 2.3 million working Australian men (47%), a dramatic 17% difference (see Table 1).

The findings come amid significant financial markets turbulence, fears over the capacity of governments in the United States and Europe to service their sovereign debt levels, and the unprecedented downgrading of the United States credit rating.

“The depressed levels of Australian women’s financial confidence could go some way to explaining the reasons for Australian households diminished levels of spending, coupled with the recent natural disasters and general ‘two-speed’ economic uncertainty,” Million Dollar Woman Chief Executive Lynette Argent said.

The report found negative sentiment could be explained by the fact that Australian women have more debt than their male counterparts. For every $1 a woman earns they owe $2.60, compared to only $2.10 for men.

Additionally, 29% of working Australian women believe they are worse off in 2011 compared to last year, 4% more than their male counterparts (see Table 2a). However bucking this trend are full-time working women from Western Australia with 66% confident of their financial security and wellbeing in 2011 (see Table 2b).

Confidence in financial knowledge can be further differentiated according to gender, with 3 million males reporting being confident about their financial matters compared to only 2.5 million females.

“Financial confidence directly relates to knowledge and understanding and it comes as no surprise that these results are also poor for Aussie women.”

“However, there is hope as the financial services industry (through brands like Million Dollar Woman) turns its attention to understanding what it is women want and how to cater for their financial needs,” said Ms Argent.

This information is current as at March 2011 and may be subject to change. Any information contained in this document has been prepared without taking into account a person’s particular objectives, financial situation or needs. For that reason, before acting on this information, a person should consider the appropriateness of this information having regard to their own objectives, financial situation and needs. A person should read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for a product, which can be obtained from the product issuer or your financial adviser, before making any decision about whether to acquire or continue to hold a product.

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The research was conducted by Colmar Brunton between March 1 and March 8, 2011. Methodology included an online survey of a random sample of ‘working Australians’ aged 18 to 64 (2004 in April, 2155 in August and 1871 in March). To be considered ‘working Australians’, respondents had to live in  a household where paid employment was the main source of income. The sample was stratified by state. The research surveyed 1,871 people about their financial well-being and security throughout Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia. The results were postweighted according to ABS statistics on the geographic distribution of the Australian population so that results reflect the views of working Australians. The population counts provided within this document are estimates only. The standard error of the survey data ranges from +/- 2.3% (for the larger samples such as the Australian population) to +/-6.93% (for areas such as South Australia).