The WealthiHer Network has pledged to fight for change in the financial industry and its approach to female investors, backed by ten of the world’s leading financial institutions.

Following the publication of its report, Understanding the Diversity of Women’s Wealth, last week, WealthiHer found women suffer from ‘imposter syndrome’ with 70% saying their confidence in investing was ‘average’ or ‘below average’.

The WealthiHer Network was co-founded by Tamara Gillan, CEO of marketing agency Cherry London, and diversity change agent Lauren Von Stackelberg, together with ten large financial institutions, including Barclays Private Bank, Brewin Dolphin and Close Brothers Asset Management.

Last week, the group published a report based on an online study of 2,500 people conducted by consultancy Kantar, along with an in-depth survey, one-to-one interviews and focus groups with over 100 high-net-worth women.

Although some $72trn is already under female control around the world today and Gillan predicts 60% of Britain’s wealth will be in the hands of women by 2025, the report has revealed a large percentage of women still feel the effects of gender bias, with 36% concerned about their lack of knowledge.

Von Stackelberg commented: “We have a great opportunity to have a real, open dialogue about wealth – its purpose, goals, stresses – and to make the topic less taboo. In the future, this group’s efforts will make financial health a topic discussed equally by women and men.”

The report found there is “a need for improvement across the industry to better cater to female clients”, with respondents calling for investment to become more personalised, with better access to networks, more women appointed to senior roles and improved availability of financial education.

One of the main issues cited is ‘imposter syndrome’, whereby women feel underqualified for their roles and therefore inferior compared to a male counterpart holding the same position.

Broadcaster and Investec ambassador Clare Balding said: “I had plenty of self-doubt and probably still suffer from imposter syndrome, but I wouldn’t say that’s an obstacle, it’s just a typical characteristic.”

Tracey Reddings, a wealth management industry leader who has previously worked at JP Morgan and Julias Baer, also noted she has almost always found herself as the sole female member in senior management teams “where it would have been easy to feel invisible”.

Different approaches

The survey also found that fundamentally, women want more than a “transactional relationship” when it comes to investment, while 72.5% of respondents believe men and women have different investment attitudes and styles.

Gillan said: “We have found that women believe financial performance is important, but personal goals are paramount. For women, wealth is not an end in itself but a means to an end.”

Some 59% of women interviewed said wealth is about security, comfort and providing for family and 67.4% said making a social impact was of high importance when considering investments.

Meanwhile, the fact that 70% of female investors surveyed admitted to their self-esteem levels being ‘average’ or ‘below average’ shows the current infrastructure is hindering women who choose a career in investment in ways it does not for men.

Karen Frank, CEO at Barclays Private Bank and Overseas Services, commented: “Female preference around growing, protecting and managing their wealth can vary considerably from their male counterparts, therefore it’s fundamental we understand our clients’ motivations to ensure our solutions are tailored and relevant.”

Attitudes to risk

An example of one marked difference between male and female investors highlighted in the report was the approach taken to risk, with 71% saying men are more likely to take risks when investing.

However, one respondent said: “We should look at women being risk aware, as opposed to risk averse.”

Research reveals the scale of the diversity challenge facing asset management industry

For the WealthiHer Network, the report is a stepping stone to taking action to improve the status quo.

The founders said they are pledged to “work together with our partners to bring the necessary changes needed, in order that women are better served and championed”.

This is reproduced from Investment Week; all views are from the publication. This originally appeared online on 07 May 2019.