It is 100 years since some women earned the right to vote. Since then, progress has been steady.
The penny has dropped that more diverse teams, management structures, and leadership models are commercially effective.
Due to these fundamental changes, women are finally starting to hold more significant personal wealth. According to the Office for National Statistics in 2016, the average net estate size for British women with “identified wealth” is £246,000 – for men it is not much higher, at £272,000. The Centre for Economics and Business Research estimates that by 2020, 53 per cent of millionaires in the UK will be female.
But where are these women when it comes to investing their money? Should we also be looking at an investing gap?
Societal and structural barriers seem to have restricted women’s ability to be financial participants. These restraints are not helped by the fact that many women view the investment industry as male-oriented, unwelcoming, and full of jargon.
This matters, especially when we consider that over 40 per cent of marriages end in divorce, with these numbers increasing in the over 50s. Women also tend to outlive men by three to five years on average. By not investing, or by leaving it too late, women create a huge – yet avoidable – wealth deficit.
After all, with normal market returns, every £100,000 that is invested could double over 12 years, and could grow to £1m after 40 years.
When we put money aside for our financial goals, we feel in charge of our futures. The satisfaction from investing and meeting these goals only grows as we get older.
At Netwealth, I am seeing a clear trend among our female clients. By combining modern technology with a client-facing service, women find investing to be empowering. It makes finance interesting rather than dull. It allows them to plan for their financial goals, just as they set themselves goals in all other areas of their hectic, multi-tasking lives. It gives them control.
Of course, our confidence is boosted once we can plan for what we will live on in our retirement, or when we can clearly compartmentalise the fees necessary for our children’s education, or figure out the potential cost of long-term care for an elderly parent.
When women come to our offices, they have distinct preferences when it comes to wealth management. They have a strong desire for clarity and transparency, and feel great distaste at having providers that treat them as inferior, or who hide the real costs of their service.
Women are doers and delegators, they have clear views on what they want to achieve, and they are keen to fit their financial decisions into the rest of their busy lives rather than having to do it all themselves.
Now is the era of change. Women are increasingly aware of their financial position. With the help of modern technology, women will play a greater role in safeguarding their own and their family’s long-term financial welfare, just as they prioritise wellbeing in all other areas of their family’s lives.