How to get more women interested in investing

Rather than treating investing as a hobby the way many men do, women tend to focus on long-term goals. That’s something the finance industry should bear in mind if it wants more women to buy its products.

I am asked on Twitter (follow me on @MerrynSW) by the editors of what looks like it will be a great new magazine (Libertine) what I think about this Wall Street Journal article on female investors.

The basic premise is that female investors aren't the same as male investors. Investing isn't a hobby for them, it is a way to achieve a goal. Therefore if the industry wants to capture them as effectively as it does men, it needs to advertise a "long term goal orientated approach".

Do I agree? I do.

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Studies show that women hold more of their wealth in cash than men do; that when they do invest they do so for the long term; that they don't trade often, and practically never spread bet; that they seek out simple investments; and (this is the good news) that as a result, their long term returns are a little higher than those of men.

But I think that the absolutely key point here is the hobby' bit. By the time they have money to invest, most women are in their 30s or 40s. They have jobs, children, houses, fragile parents and partners. They have no time for anything. Ever.

Men very often appear to somehow find the time to spend their evenings at computers thinking about what to buy and sell (racking up the costs as they go). Women, not so much. So if they get around to investing, they need something they can buy and leave.

The WSJ piece looks at what kind of portfolios they should be sold in the US. Here, I reckon there is room for a few big funds to offer themselves up as a one stop shop to busy women.

Something for the board of Alliance Trust (a rarity in that it is a FTSE 250 firm run by a woman) to think about perhaps?

Merryn Somerset Webb

Merryn Somerset Webb started her career in Tokyo at public broadcaster NHK before becoming a Japanese equity broker at what was then Warburgs. She went on to work at SBC and UBS without moving from her desk in Kamiyacho (it was the age of mergers).

After five years in Japan she returned to work in the UK at Paribas. This soon became BNP Paribas. Again, no desk move was required. On leaving the City, Merryn helped The Week magazine with its City pages before becoming the launch editor of MoneyWeek in 2000 and taking on columns first in the Sunday Times and then in 2009 in the Financial Times

Twenty years on, MoneyWeek is the best-selling financial magazine in the UK. Merryn was its Editor in Chief until 2022. She is now a senior columnist at Bloomberg and host of the Merryn Talks Money podcast -  but still writes for Moneyweek monthly. 

Merryn is also is a non executive director of two investment trusts – BlackRock Throgmorton, and the Murray Income Investment Trust.