ArabianBusiness | How to bridge the gender investing gap in a ‘testosterone driven’ world
Why the rise in sustainable investment opportunities could encourage more women to invest their money over saving it
While a lot of attention has been given to bridging the gender pay gap, it is only in the last few years that the gender investing gap was brought to the forefront as an issue hindering women’s financial security.
Women tend to keep their savings in bank accounts instead of making their money work for them by investing it in stocks and bonds which could be more profitable in the long run, said Jessica Robinson, author of the newly released Financial Feminism, A Woman’s Guide to Investing for a Sustainable Future.
“Financial feminism is around women not just earning on par with men but investing on par with men,” she told Arabian Business.
“We are ending up in situations where women are coming into retirement and they simply don’t have enough financial means to support themselves; depending on which country they are in, they may not have governmental support either,” she said.
While there is no data from the region on the extent of the investing gap, Robinson quoted a UK-based study that estimated it at £15 billion ($20.8 billion).
“This is a generalisation but I think the relationship women have with money is quite difficult. We have seen a lot of research coming out that says women don’t feel as comfortable as men dealing with financial issues,” explained Robinson.
“This quite often pushes them into safer options such as cash savings as opposed to stocks and shares and then that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because if you are not active then your confidence does not grow,” she added.
The financial services industry is “very testosterone drivev” said Robinson, who’s worked in it for years, and tends to patronise women which puts them off investing.
There are several ways through which women could be made more comfortable investing but Robinson sees the most value in the newly emerging trend of sustainable investments.
“Our global research indicated that 70 percent of women want to invest according to their values as opposed to just financial return,” said Robinson.
“All the big banks and asset managers are now proactively going after women customers because it is a growing market. At the same time, because of the way the financial industry is embracing gender finance and sustainable finance, they are also recognising that to gain women as clients they need to offer sustainable investment products,” she continued.
While it will take a long time to bridge the gender investing gap, especially given that the latest studies indicate it will take over 200 years to bridge the gender pay gap, Robinson is “optimistic” that steps are being taken in the right direction.
“I lived and worked in Asia and the region for many years so I see this transition happening. Younger women are getting engaged because I think they place a much higher value on financial independence,” said Robinson.
“The sustainability aspect is going to help bring more women into the industry because the more they feel engaged with the issues they care about and they see a financial industry that is more than just making money, the more they will invest,” she added.
Robinson gives the following tips for women who want to start investing:
- Get educated and empowered: utilise the many available financial literacy resources out there or join an online female-focused network.
- Join an investment club or angel investment network. Women like peer to peer recommendations
- Find the right financial advisor to speak with. Seek more than one advisor until you found the one you feel comfortable with
- Embrace investing through tech: you can invest small amounts via an app on your phone
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON ARABIAN BUSINESS AND REPRODUCED WITH PERMISSION.