74% of women too nervous to invest

Three in four women do not invest and are missing out on building wealth as a result, research shows.

Woman on a laptop
Women save an average of £180 a month – men save £306
(Image credit: © Getty Images)

Three in four women are missing out on building their future wealth by not investing, compared to 58% of men.

Data from robo-platform Wealthify found women did not invest because they were too nervous and lacked confidence, resulting in them leaving money in cash savings accounts instead.

Kalpana Fitzpatrick, digital editor of MoneyWeek and author of Invest Now, says: “But with interest rates on these accounts lagging behind inflation, it means they are not only losing out on the power of compounding, but they are also missing out on potentially hundreds of pounds in returns over the long-term.”

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Data from Wealthify, which surveyed 2,000 Brits who have at least £5,000 in savings but haven’t invested before, found 74% of British women were nervous about investing compared to just 58% of men – despite being more likely to have financial goals than men.

Wealthify found 61% of women said they have definite future savings goals, compared to 49% of men. And yet men feel far less nervous about investing their money.

Last year, Boring Money found the UK gender investment gap stood at nearly £600bn, with millions more male investors than female investors.

So what is stopping women from investing?

Why do women invest less than men?

Wealthify found 73% of women don’t feel confident investing their money, and 74% don’t know where to start.

Overall, the research seems to conclude women are more apprehensive about taking risks with their money.

The research found women preferred to put their money in a cash savings account, while 86% of them feared losing money compared to 84% of men.

Women also said lack of knowledge and the inability to access their money were both deterrents.

“Investment firms have also traditionally targeted men, and investing is very much seen as a macho club - we haven’t quite broken away from that,” says MoneyWeek’s Fitzpatrick.

Additionally one in three women said they don’t feel confident investing due to a lack of education on investments in school.

The UK gender investment gap

Findings by Boring Money on a survey of 6,000 adults found men have £599bn more than women in stocks and shares ISAs, investment accounts and private pensions.

Holly Mackay, chief executive of Boring Money, which provides tips to savers and investors, tells MoneyWeek: “The gender investment gap has stagnated and been stubbornly persistent for years now. Confidence is a key deterrent for women and with consumer and investor confidence at current lows, and the cost of living crisis biting, I suspect this gap will only get worse.”

The gender investment gap exists across all age groups: 28% of men aged between 18 and 35 invest compared to only 14% of women in the same age group, while 47% of men aged 65 and over invest, compared to 28% of women.

Female investors are more likely to be married, and slightly more likely to live in the south of England.

According to Boring Money, twice as many men hold a general investment account than women, and where women do have investments, the balance is well below that of their male counterparts.

Pensions are also a key driver of the gender investment gap, with men having much more money saved for retirement in private pensions. The latest data from the Department for Work and Pensions revealed the gender pensions gap was 35%, with women hitting retirement age with about a third less saved into their private pensions than men.

“A lot of this will be due to women taking career breaks to have children, working part-time around caring responsibilities or the gender pay gap meaning they earn less – which all filters through to lower incomes and lower pension contributions,” said Laura Suter, head of personal finance at AJ Bell.

Ruth Emery
Contributing editor

Ruth is passionate about helping people feel more confident about their finances. She was previously editor of Times Money Mentor, and prior to that was deputy Money editor at The Sunday Times. 

A multi-award winning journalist, Ruth started her career on a pensions magazine at the FT Group, and has also worked at Money Observer and Money Advice Service. 

Outside of work, she is a mum to two young children, a magistrate and an NHS volunteer.