Should We Reschedule? The Recession and the Great Wealth Transfer for Women

An influx of wealth to a population already considering alternative careers could lead to an increased amount of entrepreneurship, which in turn could lead to increased capital and generational wealth transfer.

One of the major stories of the last year or two has been the coming recession. Setting aside questions of how much or even when, we couldn’t help wondering what effect the might be of possible recession could have on the transfer of assets from the Boomer generation to others, the so-called Great Wealth Transfer. One of the main themes to emerge from the early pandemic was how much harder hit women were in the pandemic recession than men, mostly because of how certain industries like hospitality were impacted by business closures and public health regulations. So, the recently increasing talk of a recession had us thinking about whether the economic impacts of a recession might disproportionately affect women and whether that might blunt the power the Great Wealth Transfer for women would have created. We think that many clients may be wondering the same thing, and for that reason, we’ve summarized a few of the issues here to help advisors prepare for client questions on this topic. When we last discussed this topic we noted that “[b]y gaining education, training and business skills and women have amassed assets of their own. In short, women inheriting from this wealth transfer aren’t merely making up ground as against their male counterparts as may have been the case in past generational wealth transfers. Instead, women may be inheriting additional wealth that just by its nature of being surplus could create additional advisory needs.”[1]

The first question to ask when considering this may be, is the great wealth transfer still happening after all the market volatility and the coming recession? To place this phenomenon in the proper scope, it’s helpful to recall that in 2021 was prognosticated that the Great Wealth Transfer would be $15 trillion in assets over the next 25 years.[2] How much is being transferred depends on what you ask and when. For example, in February of 2022 according to Bloomberg, that asset transfer was $73 trillion over the next 25 years. But change that transfer horizon to ten years and the number shrinks to $30 trillion. Extend it again but ask in December of 2022 and it shrinks to $68 trillion.[3] The amount may be variable, but whichever dataset (or source) you rely on, the answer is yes, the great wealth transfer is still scheduled and yes it will involve trillions, with a T as in truckloads, of dollars.

While the Great Wealth Transfer may still be on, its impact could be changed by losses in the jobs market caused by a recession. When we originally discussed the Great Wealth Transfer’s impact on women, we noted that the transfer’s impact was significant because unlike other time periods, women had amassed assets of their own and inheritance would create a surplus. That surplus could create additional “generational wealth transfer or it could [shape] structural change such as via small business investing.” In 2020, we noted that “[w]omen accounted for 55 percent of the 20.5 million jobs” lost in the early period of the pandemic.[4] But that number belied a different trend. It wasn’t just that women were being laid off, it was that they were quitting. The she-cession, as it was called, lingered into 2021 and 2022. By 2022, women’s “labor force participation plummeted to “the lowest level since 1988....”[5] Some summarized the economic trend as impacting those who had recently entered the workforce, not those who worked in demanding, high income and high hours work. Instead, thanks to changes brought on by the pandemic, those demanding jobs are now easier for women who may juggle motherhood and high hours to have an easier, not harder, time of doing so. In other words, rather than driving women out of the workforce, the she-cession may have increased their salaries longer term by providing a greater breadth of flexible jobs.

However, others discussing the she-cession note that the large percentage of women considering leaving their jobs due to work place pressure led the Great Resignation. “In fact, 80 percent of women across 10 countries said their workloads increased as a result of the pandemic and 66 percent took on more responsibilities at home. Increased demands, both at home and in the workplace, has led to nearly three-quarters of workers feeling disengaged with their jobs or burnt out, especially women.”[6]An influx of wealth to a population already considering alternative careers could lead to an increased amount of entrepreneurship, which in turn could lead to increased capital and generational wealth transfer.  

These regains by women, and potential off ramping into entrepreneurial pursuits may be stymied by the currently predicted recession. According to a study released in late 2022, 68% of women see a recession coming and are taking steps to prepare.[7]Those steps include saving (42% of respondents); reducing spending and paying down debts. These actions could maintain assets they’ve collected during their working careers, ensuring that the great wealth transfer will create new assets.

Whatever the result of the collisions of these trends, it’s clear that many clients will need to revisit their retirement planning. Advisors may want to be ready to consider how these trends can impact their clients in terms of surplus assets, lowered risk, increased entrepreneurship and increased alternative investing.



[3] (February 2, 2022). Bank of America’s Private Bank section also predicts close to $80 trillion. See (September 15, 2022);; (Dec 22, 2022).



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These articles are prepared for general purposes and are not intended to provide advice or encourage specific behavior. Before taking any action, Advisors and Plan Sponsors should consult with their compliance, finance and legal teams.

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