Lecturing women about money won’t make them invest

Fearless girl - Wall Street
 
There’s a lot of hand wringing that gets done in marketing departments about how to get women to invest. Women are powerful consumers. Often the decision maker in key household purchases. Quite rightly any marketeer worth their salary wants to go after a valuable market segment.

It seems to me that recently we have started lecturing women about why they need to invest. The common arguments are the gender pay gap, the superannuation gap, savings accounts give you rubbish returns and my personal favourite, financial independence (ie a thinly veiled translation of a man is not a financial plan).

All sound arguments and well intentioned, if not occasionally condescending.

Why don’t more women invest?

There’s a fair amount of research into why most women don’t invest. The marketing doesn’t speak to them (or rather it speaks to middle aged men in suits), the impenetrable jargon, the industry seems untrustworthy, their lack of confidence, risk aversion and belief that investing is only for the very wealthy are examples in a long list.

We know why many women don’t invest and they are told frequently that they ought to be investing. State Street even put up a fearless girl statue facing down the Wall Street Bull in 2016, so why aren’t more women investing darn it?

I believe most women know investing is an option to help them grow their wealth. The gender pay gap isn’t new information (it’s 15.2% according to the ABS) and we know we’ll probably retire with less cash than men.

These are extremely valid reasons to invest but just because something is good for you doesn’t mean you’re going to do it.

Women have changed

The issue I have (as a woman who does invest) is we are telling women they need to fix a problem that is not theirs. It’s not women who need to change to increase female participation in investing. The problem is financial products speak to men, are built for men (almost exclusively by men) and society makes it difficult for women to invest due to the pay gap.

Excellent research into women and investing from BritainThinks hypothesised that ‘women have changed, but financial services has not’.

Do what you want with your money…

One area where women do invest more is investment properties. It’s not equal yet but it’s getting closer. Nearly half (47%) of Australians who own investment property are women, according to an analysis of data from the Australian Taxation Office by the Property Council of Australia.

This can tell us a lot about how women approach investing. They’re prepared to put time into thorough research, want visibility and control, don’t need investments to be ‘exciting’ or ‘volatile’ for a dopamine hit like many men do. Women don’t want to be ‘sold’ to and are happy with steady returns.

Most investment products are the opposite, they’re opaque, lack control, heavily marketed, and have erratic returns. No wonder women are avoiding them.

Financial companies need to lecture women less and start listening to how they want to invest. Education campaigns that have little traction should not be dismissed as ‘women don’t invest’. The question from business should be ‘what can we do differently ’?

I would love to see more women (and men) investing, it really is an empowering way to grow your savings and take control of your financial destiny. Change is happening slowly, companies like us (Stockspot) and individuals in the media are working to bring about greater transparency to investing and making it more accessible to everyone.

 

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Image: Anthony Quintano via Flickr
 

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Lauren Franze

Head of Communications and Public Relations