Investing is no longer a man’s game. Women are levelling the playing field.
According to a Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study in 2020, women held 32% of the world’s wealth and its pre-covid prediction found that by 2023, the total wealth pool owned by women would rise to $93trn (£68trn, €79trn).
Firms should not underestimate the female investor and need to pledge their commitment to a growing client base.
Patricia Astley, executive director at Julius Baer International, told International Adviser: “I think female investors have been ignored previously by the industry but now, with women controlling 32% of the globe’s wealth, it is too big to ignore.
“Taking time to consider the needs of female investors has become more urgent and respected. We need to understand why we are suddenly talking about this. It’s no longer just the flavour of the month.
“There are reasons why women’s wealth is growing. It is a combination of more wealth being inherited by women, as well as female-owned mid-size businesses which are growing significantly. There is no doubt that digital revolution has transformed the landscape for female wealth – digital solutions allow for better education, inclusivity and flexibility.
“Female investors need to be confident with their investment adviser in order to be more involved in their finances. There is no doubt that in many cases, women want to be treated slightly differently to men. Female investors may have different priorities or goals that wealth management firms need to be aware of and should be addressing.
“I think as an industry we can be more representative by understanding the needs of our clients and creating a range of options that give confidence to all investors to cater to what they’re interested in or how they want to interact.”
Boosting talent pool
A common approach to attract female investors is having female advisers. Some studies suggest that women prefer to have female advisers managing their wealth, although this is not always the case.
However, the rising number of female investors means existing female advisers can no longer cater to this growing demand.
“It’s not an overnight fix,” Astley said. “We definitely need more female representation but it’s important to note that women have had many years of positive experience with male bankers and it’s not a problem. But it is important to provide balance and options – that is the key to getting this right in the future.
“We also need more education so that male advisers are more in tune with how they can either attract female investors or how they can improve share of wallet of their existing clients.
“This is important. Often, you’ll find that female stakeholders will have a lot of influence at home so engaging positively with all members of the family is vital.”
Paternity leave for flexibility
In a bid to increase diversity, Julius Baer in the UK has introduced a three-month paid paternity leave for all employees.
Astley said: “I think we [society] are very supportive of working mothers, but I think that historically we have looked at it the wrong way. We need to look at broader parental leave to provide better flexibility all round. Luckily many firms in the UK are starting to do this.
“It’s very bold and daring to have a man take three months parental leave. Very few have done it before, and you need senior men in an organisation to proactively engage in these programmes to set a positive example.
“For example, at Julius Baer, some of our male senior portfolio managers have already taken their three-month parental leave. In one case, a portfolio manager’s wife took six months maternity and he worked. Then when her maternity finished, he took three months parental leave and it allowed her to go back to her job. That was brilliant.
“We need to have more employers looking at these types of flexibility-based benefits to support gender balance in the workplace. I think all industries, not just finance, need to recognise that.”
Addressing the female in the room
Astley also gave her message to the wealth industry about how to deal with the rise of the female investor.
She said: “It isn’t just about cricket and golf anymore, now we need to broaden our approach so that we can attract the attention of our client base on a much broader level.
“It’s a market that for years we’ve ignored, and we need to make it more tangible. We need to have more respect. We need to adapt our approach, our language, our marketing materials.
“We need to train and retrain our advisers because for years we have addressed the man in the room and not the woman.”
Astley believes this will result in “more success and loyalty” for companies in the wealth sector.