Banks Europe Fintech Women in Tech

Where are the Women? Banks are Failing to Reach the Most Lucrative Demographic

In the financial world, women are in the minority and, in order to attract and support female customers, financial institutions have got to tackle this gender disparity within their organisations and their industry. 

Dulcie Omonubi, Director of Consulting at ENGINE discusses how banks are failing to reach women, and how to change it. Omonubi 

Dulcie Omunubi, Director of Consulting at ENGINE
Dulcie Omonubi, Director of Consulting at ENGINE

Every bank and financial institution should be asking themselves this simple question: “Where are the women?” That’s the sage view of Olga Miler, the co-founder of SmartPurse, a female-focused money coaching platform. 

A new survey from CNBC and Acorn reveals a major gender gap when it comes to investment. Not only do twice as many men invest in cryptocurrency, but there is also gender disparity across investment products such as exchange-traded funds, owned by 14% of men compared with 7% of women, individual stocks (40% of men compared with 24% of women), and mutual funds (30% of men and 20% of women).

Women lag behind because banks and financial companies are not making it a strategic priority to attract, support and empower female investors. As women are expected to own over 60% of the UK’s overall wealth by 2025, this means banks are failing to engage the most lucrative demographic out there.

In a webinar I hosted on women and wealth, Olga Miller and Emilie Bellet, CEO of Vestpod, a financial education platform for women, shared their advice for financial institutions wanting to improve their approach. Here are their top tips:

Educate and empower female customers and your workforce

Both Emilie and Olga have observed that a surprisingly high number of staff within banks and financial intuitions lack knowledge and even access to training and education when it comes to personal finance. Putting all your workforce through basic training on financial management will enable them to communicate more effectively with customers, rely less on jargon, be more transparent –  and become advocates for change within your organisation and on social media. Clearer, more effective communication from your teams will help engage female customers and, crucially, boost trust.

In Emilie’s view, banks don’t necessarily have to change or ‘pink-wash’ their existing financial products in order to make them more appealing to women; they just need to improve their communications around these products, and make them more transparent and accessible. To give women more confidence to invest, she advises offering tailored money coaching and financial education. Building a community of women that can support and encourage each other is also extremely beneficial. “Try to create an environment that’s more supportive of women and where women can open up,” says Emilie. “Putting women in the same room is very powerful.”

Invest time in data analysis 

Many financial institutions falsely assume they don’t have the right data to support and target female investors. Olga Miller, who is also the architect of UBS Wealth Management’s change programme for women, says that with the wealth of customer data now available, along with the myriad research studies out there on female investment, banks can no longer use lack of data as an excuse. “You don’t need a perfect data set – just taking a look at your client base is a healthy exercise,” she says. “You have the data, you just need to put the time in there to analyse it.”

Money is personal: listen to your customer and understand their values

Women tend to have different financial needs and goals to men. Female investors often have a more holistic approach, a more long-term focus and they lean more towards ethical investments. A recent RBC Wealth Management study found that its female clients are almost twice as likely as men to say it is important that the companies they invest in integrating ESG factors into their policies and decisions and more likely to prioritise ESG impact when considering what companies or funds to invest in. When it comes to financial advice and support, banks must listen to their customers and show they understand their lives and values. “Money is an incredibly human thing,” says Olga, “It has a lot more to do with emotions than performance figures.”

 Make women a strategic priority in your business 

If women are not a key strategic focus for financial brands, efforts to target them will fail in the long-term as decision-makers within the organisation move on and budgets change. “One of the biggest challenges is that women are not dealt with as a management propriety,” says Olga. Prioritising women is good for business overall because of the many parallels between women’s needs and those of other demographics, such as the younger generation, who also tend to opt for ethical investments. Olga says: “Improving your customer experience for women will help you to improve it for everybody.”

Author

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

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