The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #EmbraceEquity. But what does that actually mean? We’re all familiar with equality and ensuring everyone is given the same resources and opportunities in life. Equity, however, goes a little deeper and recognises that individuals have different circumstances and needs, and then allocates resources and opportunities accordingly to ensure an equal outcome.
Embracing equity in the finance industry offers the opportunity to make real systemic change – addressing the causes, rather that the symptoms of financial gender parity. Symptomatically, women are still under-represented, particularly when it comes to investing, with men holding far more and far larger investment portfolios and pensions.
Recent UK research revealed that the average pension pot for a 65-year-old woman is £35,800 – a fifth of the average 65-year-old man’s. Data on individual savings accounts (ISAs) tell another version of a similar story – women hold over half of cash ISAs but only 43% of stocks and shares ISAs. So, while many women are trying to save for the future, far fewer are taking the opportunity to invest their money for substantial longer term growth.
What are some of the challenges facing women?
- The gender pay gap: Despite women’s wealth growing around the world, they still tend to earn less than men. The pay gap remains around 15% in the UK and the pension and investment gaps mentioned earlier are an inevitable result. Coupled with this, women tend to bear the lion’s share of family responsibilities ̶ with career breaks, part-time working and the punitive cost of childcare reducing their earning power and ability to save.
- Longevity: In most developed countries, women are now living longer than men so will need to fund a longer time in retirement. The average UK life expectancy at birth is 83 years for women and 80 years for men.
- Attitudes to risk: While women investors may still be a minority, research suggests that when they do invest, they achieve better performance than men. A study by Warwick Business School revealed women outperformed men by an average of 1.8% over a three-year period. Yet a lack of confidence and a fear of putting their savings at risk is holding many women back.
Our job as a wealth manager is to address these complexities and empower women to explore their financial options. Returning to our theme of embracing equity, it is clear many women are starting with a very different set of circumstances to men.
As US author and educator Stephen R. Covey said: “We must look at the lens through which we see the world, as well as the world we see, and that the lens itself shapes how we interpret the world.
Research has shown women place more importance on values and meeting personal goals than investment performance. This subtle difference is one we acknowledge with our purpose-led approach to wealth planning. Taking the time to understand each client’s values and aspirations individually can help us find the most appropriate financial solutions to achieve their overall wealth objectives.
Beckie Williams, Executive Head of Client Proposition at Nedbank Private Wealth, explains: “It might be a generalisation, but in my experience, women place a lot of value on building relationships with their adviser, needing to feel they can trust them. Women pay close attention to the detail. The holistic experience is important, not just the numbers, and if we as an industry can provide that, then we will see many more women taking on risk and investing on their own terms.”
Would you like to find out how Nedbank Private Wealth can support you with your financial goals? Get in touch now and let’s start the conversation.
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Any examples of investments and structures used are for illustrative purposes only. The inclusion does not constitute an invitation or inducement to buy any financial investment or service. None of the content constitutes advice or a personal recommendation. Nedbank Private Wealth does not provide individual tax advice, and instead works with clients’ existing advisers or can provide an introduction if needed. Individuals should seek professional advice, based on their jurisdiction and personal circumstances, before making any financial decision.