By Claire West

More than twice as many men choose the highest possible risk option to boost their savings compared to women (13% vs 6%), according to findings from insurer Zurich's Wealth Risk Report.

The study, tracking investor attitudes and behaviour, questioned consumers about their willingness to take risk and capacity to accept a loss on their investments.

It found that although people's attitude to risk tends to shift very little throughout their lives, their overall appetite for risk will change. This is influenced by a wide range of factors, including age, location, use of advice and life stages such as marriage.

Four different investment types have emerged from the study. Men make up the majority of the groups with a higher appetite for risk but when it comes to the lower risk groups the split is less defined, as shown below in the gender breakdown within each investment type:

- Stags, opting for the highest risk option — 76% men v 24% women

- Bulls, willing to take high risk — 65% men v 35% women

- Owls, sticking to a low risk portfolio — 55% men v 45% women

- Squirrels, playing it safe — 54% women v 46% men

It also seems that the wealthier a man is the more likely he is to be a Stag — with 15% of those with investable assets worth over £100k or more opting for higher levels of risk compared to just 1% of women from the same group.

In addition, age appears to impact on our appetite for risk. While the findings show that we're more willing to take risk when we're younger — with one in five Stags being under 35 - this falls over time to just 4% of 65-69 year olds. However, the percentage of Stags leaps threefold to 12% when investors hit 70, suggesting a suggesting a higher level of disposable wealth and higher capacity for risk.

Commenting on the findings, Mark Peters, Zurich's Head of Retail Wealth propositions said:

“It is particularly interesting to see the shift in risk attitude for investors over the age of 70, although this may reflect the fact that they generally have fewer financial responsibilities with mortgages paid off and no dependents living at home - which in turn is likely to have an impact on their levels of disposable income and their view of higher risk investments.

“The findings also highlight the fact that while attitude to risk is likely to remain static throughout our lives, our ability to take risk differs depending on life stage and our personal circumstances. Financial advisers have an important role to play in helping customers understand this and help them achieve their savings goals”.