EVENT SUMMARY: The Rise of Female Wealth

Alex Sword


The Financial Services Forum

Our recent event focused on the issue of female wealth and the male-dominated image of the investment industry. Chair Alison Sharp, Divisional Director at Manbitesdog, said that while women are set to hold 60% of wealth in 2025, the industry is still failing to reach female investors, with most industry professionals admitting that their default client is a man, and their products are primarily targeted at men. This comes across in things like the choice of metaphors, such as comparing investing to extreme sports.

The speakers shared their thoughts on creating a more inclusive industry. Anna Lane, CEO of Wisdom Council, highlighted the importance of women having female advisors due to differences in communication styles.

She stressed the need to view this as a business imperative rather than a D&I initiative, noting that the small proportion of women in senior positions led to groupthink. Anna also noted that women tend to lack external networks, a gap which is being filled to some extent by the likes Women in Banking and Finance.

Kirsten Burt, Director at KBurt Consulting, discussed the challenges of convincing male-dominated boards to address gender diversity. The response tended to be that this was a D&I issue and should sit within HR’s responsibility.

However, by using data to demonstrate a retention issue with female clients, she was able to gain support for initiatives aimed at improving the customer experience for women. This didn’t just mean increasing the number of female advisors but also training men to serve female clients better.

Claire Barker, Group Head of Corporate Communications at Brooks Macdonald, described how she once attended an event where the overwhelming majority of people were men, leading to her researching the issue and finding female under-representation was endemic in the sector.

She decided to create a vehicle to engage female investors, which ended up being the Female Folio. Due to compliance challenges, the concept was pitched as an education vehicle rather than a sales vehicle.

Claire also mentioned the need to build financial products that cater to women’s preferences, emphasising the interest women have in philanthropy and the desire to make a difference with their investments, even if this means sacrificing some returns. She stressed the importance of developing investment products that align with women’s values and priorities.

The speakers also emphasised:

  • The significance of education, communication, and peer-to-peer learning in engaging women in finance.
  • The need for targeted marketing strategies, such as online education portals and podcasts, to provide financial education and increase confidence among women.
  • The importance of leveraging workplace avenues to engage women, using channels like social media effectively, and addressing concerns related to greenwashing and climate anxiety.
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