Women and Wealth

Five things we learned about the future of investing and women’s wealth.

Women are expected to control 60% of the UK’s wealth by 2025.

But here’s the thing. Only 23% of women are currently investing, compared with 35% of men. Something isn’t adding up. But, why? What’s causing this discrepancy? What’s stopping financial institutions from better engaging with their female customers? And is now the time to do something about it?

We set out to answer these questions in our article, Bridging the Gap, and in a panel discussion on the morning of September 7th where we were joined by Olga Miler, co-founder of fintech/edtech Smartpurse, and Emilie Bellet, founder and CEO of female finance platform Vestpod. Together, we took a deep dive into the world of women and their wealth and discussed how serving women better, ultimately means serving everyone better. Here are our five key learnings:

1. There are three main reasons women invest differently from men

The first is historic. “In history, we as women have been taught that money is not for us and that we are not entitled to be in charge of the money,” said Miler. “In the UK it was in 1975 before women were allowed to have their own bank account - that’s only just over 40 years ago.”

Secondly, Miler points to “overwhelming” information and jargon as a key barrier, causing choice paralysis and a sense that “this is not for me”.

Finally, Miler described the challenge this increasingly specialised industry creates for itself.

“In our dataset of over 1,500 women, research has shown that six out of ten don’t actually know what financial service providers do. What might seem like second nature to us as financial services professionals, don’t be fooled, it’s not very easily understood by anybody outside.”

2. Providers need to let go of female-investor myths holding them back

One key misconception Miler experienced from working with multiple banks, is that people think men can’t be successful at serving female clients - a perspective she believes is “absolutely flawed”.

“There’s not one piece of research in the 850+ studies I’ve had the privilege to read that would point to the fact that women want to only be served by women. They want to find the person they can trust.”

Another outdated myth is that providers feel they don’t have the data, often resulting in yet more research - something Miler feels is no longer the right outcome.

“I think that point in time has passed now, because with research alone you might not be able to reap the opportunity,” said Miler. Instead, businesses should prioritise action: “you have the data, you just need to put the time in to analyse it.”

That’s the most important thing - to try something very small. You don’t need to have your full life sorted out beforehand!

Emilie Bellet, Author and Founder, The Vestpod

3. If you lack a female perspective in your business, find shortcuts to get to the insight

Redressing gender balances internally is an important step, but one which can take years. However, that doesn’t mean you have to wait before engaging more female customers.

“Talking to your customers, analysing your data, and training your staff can be good ways to start engaging [women]. And then demystify your language and take a full hearted look at marketing,” suggests Miler. “Another easy way can be to just ban all ‘manels’ (panels consisting only of men) because in digital we propagate that image through social media, so simple things like that can get you a very long way.”

4. Get to grips with the real differences between male and female investors

Bellet flagged that the way women and men approach finance is often different. Women tend to have “a very holistic approach” - whether that’s seeing money as a means to supporting family or, as we discussed in our ‘Bridging the Gap’ article, a way of investing ethically in order to effect change. Bellet explained this means that “whilst financial returns are important, they are in service to achieving life goals, rather than a result in and of themselves”.

This translates into female investment behaviours: “When we talk about investing, women are great investors - they think long term, they don’t over-trade, they don't overreact to the stock market, so maybe we can talk about investing in a slightly different way,” said Bellet.

One of the biggest reasons these women focused propositions fail in larger organisations is because they are not dealt with as a management priority - as a strategic priority that needs to have a certain longevity… One way to mitigate that is to have KPIs inside the orgnaisation.

Olga Miler, Co-Founder and CEO, Smartpurse

5. Creating offerings and experiences that work for women, will work for everyone else too

As mentioned in our article, whilst we’re focusing on women here, these principles could apply to many commercially attractive groups as yet untapped. Think about groups that have increasing funds but little investment awareness, like upwardly mobile professionals from disadvantaged backgrounds, for example.

This is something Miller has seen through projects with UBS, for example.

“If you take the comparison of investment propensity of women where 8 in 10 women want to invest sustainably, and you compare that to young people where 7 in 10 young people want to invest sustainably you detect many different parallels. So, improving your customer experience for women will help improve it for everybody.”

Bellet noted that creating ‘pink banks’ is not the solution. “We don’t need to focus on creating female focused products because you may have products that work... It's really working on the communication,” said Bellet. “Our path is going to be different to men, and so we need to have a different conversation.”

It’s not about pinkwashing your organisation, it really is about taking yourself by the heart and saying how can I achieve the biggest impact for my business and how can I create a better customer experience that will serve everybody.

Olga Miler, Co-Founder and CEO, Smartpurse

There has never been a better time to seize the opportunity offered by this growing audience. So, if like us, you’re passionate about women and wealth and if you want to talk more about making this opportunity a reality, please get in touch by dropping me a note at dulcie.omonubi@enginegroup.com.

This event was the first in our series; Serving the Underserved. Our next event takes place on 20th October, where we’ll be taking a closer look at Gen Z and how their money attitudes have the potential to cause seismic shifts in the financial services industry. To pre-register, send your name, company and contact details to creativeevents@enginegroup.com.

[1] source: Centre for Economics and Business Research