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Women & finance

By Portugal team
This article is published on: 30th October 2023

It seems strange to think that gender differences can not only affect the way in which we think about managing our finances but the practical needs and requirements too. But with 60% of the UK’s wealth estimated to be in the hands of women by 2025 (a trend seen throughout most countries) being cognisant of these differences will put you – or the women in your life – a step ahead.

What are the issues?
Even today, studies show that despite 85% of women running household finances, over half of women defer to partners to manage and make long term financial decisions. There are several reasons for this, but a lack of confidence saw women shying away from taking a more active role. With 3/4 of women aged 60 either single, widowed or divorced, relying heavily on a partner can leave them disadvantaged.

Women live longer than men and their finances must therefore last longer. Recent ONS statistics predicted a lifespan of 83.1 years for women, and where planning has not been put in place, or put in place with a male’s longevity in mind, women may find themselves struggling in later years.

Women are naturally more cautious and conservative, but over the long term, such investments have lower growth potnential. A YouGov study showed that 55% of women had never held an investment vs. 35% of men.
80% of companies are paying women less than men. A 2021 study by NEST showed that the average working woman could have a pay gap of £70,000 at retirement. Similarly, women are more likely to have taken time out of employment or reduce hours to care of children and/or elderly parents and relatives. These career breaks not only directly affect income, but can affect promotion or progression opportunities. This has a knock on effect on finances and women are seen to have approx. 51% less in retirement savings than their male counter parts.

These factors mean that women must take a different approach to men when thinking about their finances. This is something investment providers are recognising. For example BlackRock, the world’s largest fund manger, has recently launched investment funds geared at women and aimed at addressing and incorporating the issues women face.

What can you do?
Develop your understanding and relationship with money. Ask yourself why you have certain feelings or views around money. What makes you uncomfortable? When do you feel this? Why? Identifying your strengths and weaknesses will help you on your financial journey.

Make time to set goals and develop your financial plan. Your plan should be specific and realistic otherwise you are setting yourself up for failure.

If you are still working, know your worth. Women negotiate less than men when it comes to pay – 33% of women vs. 43% of men. Do your research, demonstrate your value and remember, if you don’t ask you won’t get!

Invest your money. Saving money is one thing, but how do you build wealth for the long term? The single most detrimental impact on savings is inflation. As things get more expensive, your income and savings must also grow to keep up, and cash or bank deposits are not a good inflation hedge. Whilst investing does carry risk, it provides the best opportunity for inflation beating returns in the long run – an opportunity for women to use their longevity in their favour!

Don’t be afraid of investing and use professionals to help you get it right. Statistics show that women make better investors, often achieving better returns than men. A study by Hargreaves Lansdown showed women’s returns outperforming men by 0.81% over 3 years (over 30 years this would result in a portfolio value of 25% more).

If you are already investing ensure that you review things regularly and pay close attention to your investments. It is not uncommon to see portfolios that have not moved in many years due to high fees or poor performance.

Take control and build your financial confidence. This maybe through education or working with professionals, but it will allow you to identify and take advantage of opportunities, achieve financial independence and peace of mind.

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