In recent years, more diverse groups, especially in age and gender, have entered the investments markets. For a long time, women have been missing in the investor landscape – but the industry is finally seeing the tide turn. However, as markets are constantly changing, it is critical that momentum is maintained in creating an inclusive and diverse class of investors and savers.
The current energy crisis, as well as rising inflation and interest rates, has created further barriers for investors who fear increased expenses leading to imbalanced monthly cash flows. This is especially affecting both current and aspiring female investors that tend to be more cautious with their finances, making investing seem even more unmanageable.
The problem is compounded by new investors’ lack of knowledge in navigating market volatility. Many new investors are experiencing volatility for the first time and it’s important that they stay calm. The current market situation can seem like a bad time to not only have money invested, but also as a bad time to start your investment journey in the first place. Despite a looming bear market, the financial sector can still do much more to remove and overcome obstacles that stand in the path towards financial equality.
The secret financial language
It is clear that there’s still a conservative cloud hanging over the financial and investment world. While there is a noticeable lack of female role models, what’s more prohibiting are the conversations around investments being like an exclusive club where many think you need in-depth financial knowledge to be able to buy a single share or make any financial transaction at all. A study by JP Morgan showed that around 64% of women think investing is complicated and 34% associate investments with volatility. The investment world often talks as if they are keeping secrets, making entering the markets even more tricky. Hence, it is important that the whole financial industry should continue to spread the message that investing is for everyone, not just a select few.
Of course, every investor should have some practical understanding of how investments work, including the period they will hold the investment for (the time horizon) and whether they will invest independently or through investment funds – where experts manage the finance (risk tolerance).
But when women take the plunge and start investing, the same research also emphasises that 65% of women think it is hard to tell how investments are performing and 42% would appreciate clearer communication around products. 48% would also appreciate a simple guide to investing.
Improving communication and providing simple guides to investing will not improve access for women, but also for other poorly represented groups in the markets as well as for any aspiring investor. As a result, there is even more motivation for the financial industry to be focused on dialogue, transparency, clear communication and accessibility for first-time investors.
Why women must invest
Less than one in five women invest regularly compared to more than three quarters who save regularly. This leads to reduced long-term horizons of the average person’s pension savings as there is an obvious difference between having just saved money and having invested savings.
Furthermore, we now live in a time in which the combination of soaring inflation and negative interest rates threatens to diminish our savings if they are not invested properly.
And women should not be intimidated by investing their funds. Several studies testify that women on average are better at investing than men since they tend to diversify their portfolios better and make fewer transactions, which brings down their trading fees and prompts a higher return on the bottom line.
Accelerating the process towards financial equality
Cultural changes will not happen overnight, but an important step in the right direction is to be awareof the present cultural misconceptions, to addressthem and actively strive to solve problems that prevent women from investing to the same scale as men. Whether the objective of investing is to take your family on a holiday, to buy a new car or be able to retire at an earlier age, everyone should have the possibility to take control of their savings.
From here, we need to establish conversations on inclusive investing and meet where investors are at – whether it is at their level of experience or at the place where they are looking for investment information. At Saxo, we have seen an increased interest from women and recognise it is everyone’s responsibility to support it. We have made progress, but the time has come to rise to the challenge and speed up the change.