What women want for women (and others)

On International Women’s Day, Karen Bennett speaks to women across Nedbank Private Wealth to hear their thoughts on how women could choose to challenge their approach to their finances and investments.
Published 8 March
3½ mins

The world of investing and wealth management can be seen as a strange one to those who don’t work in the sector. And even those of us – like me – who have spent decades in the industry, are often guilty of not implementing the advice we would give to clients, even though we appreciate the complexities and understand the jargon.

Given today (8 March) is International Women’s Day, however, what would we want to prompt other women to do? I asked a few and these are their responses.

“There is a key link between financial wellbeing and emotional wellbeing. Find me a woman that hasn’t bought that handbag or pair of shoes because they needed a boost – my shoe room pays evidence to that! But don’t become dependent on emotional spending to prop you up, as this may spiral into other things going forward. Retail therapy may help to make you feel better in the short term, but could have a negative impact on your financial and emotional wellbeing in the future.

“And be involved in your own day-to-day financial arrangements, don’t be reliant on your spouse or family to ‘take care of things’. By taking part, you can set your own spending limits, build in your emergency buffer and not have things take you by surprise.

“In closing, I will leave you with the words of Natasha Munson: “Money, like emotions, is something you must control to keep your life on the right track.”

Mary Humphries, Senior Trust Manager

On investing

“Invest your savings. Saving a proportion of your income every month is only the first step towards reaching your goals, such as buying your dream home or travelling the world.  The second and crucial step is to ensure the money you save grows in value. Of course, putting money into a bank account comes more naturally to us – it’s a safe bet and you won’t see your balance fall. But the value of your savings could be eroded by inflation and it also ignores the power of compounding.

“With the right investments, history has shown that, over the long term, the rewards are well worth the risk, and there are various strategies available to match your risk profile. Finding an approach that you are comfortable with – either with the help of a financial professional or an online tool – will help you stay invested, which is fundamental to achieving your long term goals.“

Madhushree Agarwal, Investment Analyst

On risk

“Contrary to popular opinion, women are not risk averse, they are risk aware.

“Everyone starts life with limited formal education on how to manage their finances. It’s not a part of the school curriculum and very little, if any, teaching takes place on topics like how to budget, how much to save, how you should think about long-term investing, and how much risk you should take.

“Why is it that society perceives that women tend to do the household budgeting, but men make the big financial decisions?  I’ve had hundreds of conversations over the years, many with married clients who, broadly speaking, are both equally as engaged. The women are as likely to be equally well informed as the men. Women might sometimes take a more passive role in the discussion, but are likely to be very involved in the decision making.

“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 their adviser. 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.”

Beckie Williams, Head of Client Proposition

“Women are excellent at evaluating and taking risks provided they have sufficient information. We have a greater ability to remain calm than men during troubled times, yet we do not choose to take risk as often, as we tend to prioritise other people, especially our family, over ourselves. But prioritising your own finances might be exactly the best thing to do for your family as well. Yes, risk is scary, but with professional guidance and knowledge, there is the chance for women to define our own individual approach to risk.”

Rebecca Cretney, Investment Counsellor

“Women take risks every day. We take responsibility for those risks. So when I hear that women are risk averse, I think it’s an easy response over making a change in the way many firms help clients. Women tend to live longer and gender pay gaps lead to many issues: smaller pensions; smaller investments; and less property ownership. Studies have shown women (on the whole) can be among the better investors. Given anyone who has a pension is already an investor, taking advantage of advice to help understand the risks can make for a more comfortable discussion and should lead to better finances in the long term.”

Karen Bennett, Senior Executive – Client Insights

On family finances

“My advice is to make sure women take an active role in both their own and their family finances.  The notion of ‘my husband takes care of all that’ worries me, not only from the fact that women often outlive men, but also from a general lack of understanding of how to protect themselves and their family should they be required to make a financial decision.”

Susan Christian, Investment Executive

“Every woman, whether single, in a relationship or married, needs her own bank/investment account that does not ever form part of the combined household accounts or savings. It doesn’t have to be a secret, but it needs to be one that isn’t used to fund family financial decisions. Who knows what life holds up ahead?  At the drop of a hat (or market), she may find herself needing to rescue a family member, escape a nasty situation, surprise her partner, or fund a much-needed personal indulgence! The only thing you can be sure about in your future is that you will be there, so plan now for the design you would like.”

Cathy Cowin, Senior Marketing Executive

“There used to be a saying that every women should have a little money of their own, but times have changed and women are taking control of their lives, careers and, most importantly, finances. Women should be financially independent from their partners. This doesn’t mean that they don’t love them or want to spend the rest of their lives with them. It just means that they will always be free to make choices, no matter what. I have the most amazing female financial adviser who, over the past 25 years, has also become one of my best friends.

“One day she said to me: ’Lesley, you have succeeded in your life despite men, not because of them!’ That made me laugh because she was right, relationships are not my strong point. Start saving early, get a pension and put a little away every month in your own account, no matter how much. It all adds up. And for those starting a family, invest in a savings bond for your baby as soon as it’s born. I did this, and am so glad, as it helped pay for part of my two girls’ university fees.”

Lesley Corlett, Head of Compliance

“It’s vital to have a long-term financial plan. As a woman, it’s easy to get totally absorbed in the day-to-day responsibilities of holding down a job, looking after your home and micromanaging your children’s lives. Then before you know it, the children have flown and you’re suddenly left with time on your hands. The earlier you start planning your finances and setting medium and long-term goals, the more wealth you can accumulate to enjoy at every stage of your life.”

Lesley Allegro, Marketing Executive

One of the reasons I work for Nedbank Private Wealth is the number of financially capable women who work here. Just under half (49%) of our client-facing teams across all of our services – spanning wealth planning and structuring, investment management and private banking – are women. And when you call, you can ask to speak to either a man or a woman, whichever is more comfortable, to help to provide for better financial outcomes for you (and your family). You just need to start the conversation with an independent professional financial adviser and begin making (more) informed decisions about your wealth.

Clients of Nedbank Private Wealth can get in touch with their private banker directly to understand how wealth planning can help them achieve their financial goals and objectives, or call +44 (0)1624 645000 to speak to our client services team.


If you would like to find out more about how we can help you with wealth planning support, please contact us on the same number as above, or complete the contact us form using the link below.

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.

about the author

Karen Bennett

Karen Bennett

Karen joined Nedbank Private Wealth in 2019 and is based out of the London office. She brings to the table over 23 years’ experience in financial services in Asia, Europe and the UK, primarily in investment and wealth management.


Karen works with the private banking teams to identify trends in wealth management and develop initiatives to help private clients understand the opportunities for their wealth, as well as the hurdles. She also works with the company’s network of finance, fiduciary and advisory professional partners to introduce our services and ensure Nedbank Private Wealth is seen as the provider of choice for high net worth individuals and their advisers.


Outside of work, Karen is on the management board of Women in Banking & Finance UK, an ambassador for Insuring Women's Futures and a member of the board of trustees for International Children's Trust. Karen holds a business degree earned in Germany and the UK.

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