While the gender pay gap is widely discussed for good reason, the equally important gender investment gap receives less coverage. However, 2018 research revealed that there’s a gender investing gap of £100bn in the UK alone.
Only 1 in 5 women currently hold an investment, compared to 1 in 3 men. Yet, investing can be one of the best ways to grow your money over time and can offer higher long-term returns than leaving your money in a current or savings account. Did you know – women who don’t invest typically lose out on around $1 million in their lifetime according to research by Ellevest… but it doesn’t have to be this way.
At Moneybox, we’re on a mission to help everyone save and invest for their future. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Choose to Challenge’. We choose to challenge the main barriers that may prevent women investing – long-held perceptions, a lack of education and opportunities – with the aim of making investing accessible to everyone. We want to empower all women to take control of their financial future, while celebrating just how far we have come as another International Women’s Day is upon us.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, we spoke to four women from Team Moneybox about their investing experience. Check out why investing has made Rachel, Abigail, Hannah and Tolu feel more confident about their financial futures. Also, they share their top tips for you! Just remember, this isn’t financial advice and we can’t recommend what might be suitable for your personal circumstances.
Do you think the gender investment gap is a topic more people should be talking about?
Hannah: Yes, definitely! I think one moment that really hit me a few years ago was talking to my partner about how much he had saved for his retirement – and then I got to think about why I hadn’t been investing for mine. I couldn’t remember ever talking about it in school at all. I think it would be great if there was a bigger focus globally on financial literacy from a young age.
Abigail: In my opinion, the gender investment gap is a direct result of the gender pay gap. Women have, on average, less money to invest – it can take them longer to get to a level of financial stability where they feel like they have the money to start investing. Women generally prefer to hold their money in cash, perceiving it as safer – without necessarily realising that its value is depreciating over time, as interest rates on cash rarely beat inflation. I don’t think a lot of people know this, so it’s important to talk about it more! Cash is great for short-term goals, but for long-term, definitely consider investing. As we take steps to level the playing field with pay, we also need to ensure that we narrow the overall wealth gap – including education and making investing accessible.
Tolu: Absolutely! Since the workforce is pretty much 50:50 with both men and women earning a living, what we do with our money is important for both genders. It’s a shame that traditionally men have been encouraged and/or inspired to invest but women are left behind.
Prior to investing, what was the barrier (if any) holding you back?
Rachel: I had no knowledge of investment and little understanding of wealth management in general. It was something I thought I would have to deal with when I “grew up” and was in my thirties. Investing definitely wasn’t something I could see myself actually enjoy doing and the idea of being able to put money away felt like a very distant and far-fetched reality. I now know I was wrong!
Abigail: Understanding & Financial Stability. I wasn’t taught about investing at school and didn’t have the money when I did learn at university! When I got a job and started earning, it took me a while to get to a place where I felt comfortable to start investing for the future. Also, I used to think investing wasn’t the space for me: The finance industry as a whole has always been a male-dominated space and women have historically been under-represented, particularly in senior, public roles. It therefore makes it difficult for women to identify and engage with finance, especially when investing has been discussed in a gendered way. I felt this a lot – that I’d be out of my depth investing and I wouldn’t understand it properly.
Hannah: I would say I found the idea of investing quite daunting. It almost had the air of a special club, one for which you needed the right information, the right background (the right ‘secret passwords’ so to speak) if you wanted to gain access. I was lucky to have some friends who talked me through it, recommended apps and platforms, and then suddenly it wasn’t quite so daunting anymore. Helping each other out goes a long way!
Has working at Moneybox, and in the Fintech industry generally, changed your attitude to investing?
Rachel: Working for Moneybox has changed my entire perspective on investing. There’s little to no education on investing in schools, and without the knowledge, it can feel scary to take those first steps. Fintechs have the platform to help educate people on the benefits and risks of investing, which can open up avenues for their money that they previously may not have thought of. They can also make it more accessible to everyday investors, with smaller starting fees, pre-set allocations and slick app designs to easily see where your money is invested.
Abigail: I’m lucky enough to work for a company that hires and promotes diversely, meaning we get a range of ideas from different people that feed into the products we create. We understand the needs of users better and we’re creating products for everyone, not just one small section of society. It’s extremely important for Fintechs to keep growing in this way and improving representation across all areas, so that those getting started with saving and investing can identify with the industry. Working in the Fintech industry has educated me on the opportunities investing presents, and also how easy it can be to get started. It’s made me realise how accessible investing can be and how you can invest to suit your values and risk appetite.
Tolu: I was thinking about investing before I joined Moneybox, (I knew it was something I ought to be doing) but now I work here I think about it a lot more! I realise how much more I could have saved over time if I had put my cash into a Stocks & Shares ISA instead of a standard savings account. I understand the power of compound interest and I am more motivated to put away into my pension.
Do you have any tips for women thinking of getting started with investing?
Abigail: Learn more and feel confident! Once you feel like you understand the opportunities and risks of investing (and realise how many resources are out there – I follow loads of great finance accounts on Instagram and Twitter!) you’ll feel confident to start. Be in a good financial position before investing, too. You don’t want to invest if you’re paying high rates of interest on credit card debt, or don’t have a cash cushion for emergencies. Consider diversifying and using a platform that makes it easy for you to invest (that’s where Moneybox comes in). Finally, keep your cool! If the market dips for a few days, or weeks, that’s normal. As long as you’re well diversified, learn to accept this and not panic. It’s about time in the market and not timing the market!
Hannah: I can only speak from my experience. I started with pretty small amounts, using index tracker funds, and built my confidence from there. I also talked through it a lot with friends who were already into investing. For those who don’t have friends to talk through it with, there are great platforms online, from blogs, forums, and thought leaders on social media. I guess my only tip (as a non financial advisor) would be to make sure you’ve got an emergency fund of savings first, so you can let your investments go for the long-term.
Rachel: Understanding is the key to investing. Once you’ve learnt about the risks and benefits of investing – now more widely discussed than ever on websites, social media and Fintech companies themselves – there is a whole world of investments to explore.
At Moneybox, we’re committed to fostering a culture of inclusion for all of our employees and customers alike. We want Moneybox to be a business that actively promotes, supports and celebrates complete inclusion, diversity and equality across all areas. We currently have 46% of our team who identify as female and our senior leadership team is 47% female. We’re proud of these figures, but we recognise there’s more we can do to move the needle on all aspects of diversity and inclusion. The Moneybox Inclusion Committee is a driving force in ensuring that both our team and our customers feel represented and heard. Happy International Women’s Day!