It’s International Women’s Day and, boy, don’t I know it.
My email inbox was flooded with research and ‘thought leadership’ viewpoints in the lead-up to the event, many of which say the same thing: fewer women invest than men.
It’s difficult to argue with this. While 21 per cent of men have a stocks and shares Isa, just 13 per cent of women have one. Their average balance is £23,000 compared to £36,000, according to research by advice website Boring Money.
But the real divide comes with retirement savings.
Would marketing investment on the packages of make-up products convince women to think more about their finances?
MacKay says: ‘We need to make investing feel relevant to people. Barriers to entry have come down and we don’t do a very good job of telling people that there are simpler ways to start investing these days from as little as a pound.
‘Research also suggest to us that women are more collegiate about decision making. And more likely to seek another opinion. Investing is quite a solitary business and I think we need to use tech better to offer advice, help and a community of others facing the same issues.
‘Finally we all tend to empathise more with people like us. It is no wonder that boardrooms full of older men make products and services for people like them. Changing the sector from within is key.’
Things are getting better
Women opened 892,000 investment Isa accounts in the 2015/16 tax year, up on the previous year but still fewer than the 1.1 million opened by men, according to latest figures from HM Revenue & Customs.
So things do look as though they’re improving.
Efforts by the financial industry to make women aware of the importance of investing, while well-intentioned, can come off as a bit patronising.
There’s isn’t a silver bullet here, but getting women at the center of the conversation, as MacKay suggests, certainly makes sense.