Saturday, 23 September 2017

Why do so few women invest? –

Her husband, who is three years older, says when he started to invest 15 years ago he chose individual stocks, but realised that “getting 75pc of your stock picking right could be quite seriously wiped out if you got one pick wrong”. He now invests entirely via funds to spread his risk.

He says this shift was spurred by his wife’s advice. “I was moving that way anyway and Dot is a competent follower of the markets and the world economy, so ever since meeting her I have talked to her about investment.

Recently, he says, they have both become worried about the world economy, with concerns about Brexit, Donald Trump’s election, the potential collapse of the EU and stock market valuations.

“Having sat up in bed early one morning and discussed it, we agreed that we should be taking less risk, which included holding more money in cash,” says Mr Merriott.

However, both say they will never force the other to invest in anything “I would never say to Dot, ‘You’ve got to be in that’ – it’s a hostage to fortune.”     

‘The language and visual aspects of finance are male’

“Historically, investments and finance were professions for men; women were seen as engaging with money just for household and day-to-day stuff,” says Dimitrios Tsivrikos, a psychologist at University College London. “Sadly, in the 21st century that stereotype is still ingrained.”

He says until women are better represented in industries such as finance, those stereotypes are unlikely to change. But what can we do before that shift takes place?

“Generally, the more contact we have with something, the less we are afraid of it,” he says. “The more women are in contact with finance, even with things such as mortgages, or with shares and investing, the more they will feel empowered to actually make those decisions.”

Many companies in the financial sector are also guilty of perpetuating a male focus, Mr Tsivrikos adds. “The language and visual aspects of investing are still very male-dominated – even things such as bank notes, which have more images of men on them. The more we have female figures on money and as visual components in the world of finance, the more they will be engaged.

“At the moment there is a lot of celebrating feminism and talking about women’s rights in a broad way. This is problematic: we need to move away from broad-brush statements on equality and address the key issues that we want to fix.”

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