Financial equality and independence are important for women. And in many countries, women have more financial decision-making power than ever:
- Women are earning more.
- Controlling more wealth.
- Inheriting more.
- And starting more businesses.
1. Investor Economics Household Balance Sheet Report, 2017
2. Investment Planning Counsel, 2017
3. The World Bank, Sept 2019
4. CIBC Economics, March 2019
5. Prudential Financial Wellness Survey, 2018
Yet there are still many gender financial gaps that cost women time and money. These gaps can include the wage gap, investing gap, caregiver gap, pricing gap and others. The COVID-19 pandemic has only widened these gaps. As an RBC study shows, many more women have exited the workforce than men during the crisis. These gaps can add up to a very real gender wealth gap – and that can have a big effect on your financial future.
Did you know? When women are ready to retire, they have often saved only two thirds of what men have saved. Yet they have to plan for a longer retirement, as they tend to outlive men by an average of 4 years.6
How can women close the wealth gender gap?
To build financial security and well-being, it’s essential for women to save and invest their money. With time, you can grow your savings through the power of compounding. You can also take advantage of the fact that on average markets tend to rise over the long term.
And no matter what you currently do or don’t know about investing, as a woman you may already hold some of the keys to investing success. Studies confirm that women often make better investors than men.
- In one study from August 2014 to August 2017, women saw their investment portfolios grow 0.81% more on average than their male counterparts each year.
- If that performance continued for 30 years, women would end up with 25% more in their portfolios than men. 7
In fact, one of the biggest compliments paid to Warren Buffet, one of the most successful investors in the world, is that he invests “like a girl.” Buffet says he agrees.8
Three strengths women have as investors
- Studies show women are patient investors, trading less often than men. Instead, they tend to develop a strategy and stick to it, buying and holding for the longer term. Less trading leads to lower costs, so you keep more of your investment earnings. Here’s what one study of stock-picking by gender found over several years:
- Single female investors outperform single men by 2.3%.
- Women overall outperform men by 1.4%.
- Men underperformed because they traded 45% more than female investors.9
Key to success: Women investors were more likely to stay the course and keep a long-term mindset, when compared to male investors.
- Women are more likely than men to diversify their investments. They may do this by choosing investments that contain a diversified mix of stocks and bonds, such as target date or balanced funds. Or they may hold a mix of different types of funds – which spreads their investment dollars across multiple holdings within each fund.
- Some 44% of women have either most or all of their portfolio in funds – compared with 38% of men.10
Key to success: Diversification means your investments tend to be less affected by the ups and downs of financial markets. If one investment drops in value, it may be offset by another’s growth.
- Women tend to be more risk aware when they invest. They take the time to evaluate whether the reward justifies the risk. They also tend to pause to assess potential drawbacks before diving in.
- Women in one study were 50% less likely than men to suffer a loss of 30% or more – a finding that is directly related to women’s choice of lower risk investments.11
- A Wells Fargo Investment Institute study found that 16% of men identify as “more aggressive” compared to just 4% of women.12
Key to success: Know your risk tolerance and your risk capacity before you invest.
Regardless of gender, everyone is capable of improving their financial future and investing knowledge. That’s true whether you want to learn the basics of investing or are ready to explore more advanced investing strategies.
If you’re just getting started, this checklist sets out 10 steps to financial wellness. Working with an advisor can also help investors recognize their strengths and, more importantly, the weaknesses that stop them from making sound investment decisions.
By investing in yourself, you can start to close the gender wealth gap – and take charge of your financial future.