The last few years have certainly provided all of us with financial challenges and reasons to reconsider how we think about money. Whether it is job uncertainty created as a result of the pandemic or more recent speculation of a recession, spiralling inflation or the ongoing rising cost of living putting pressure on household income, financial stability has been brought into sharp focus. However, according to new insight from Nutmeg, one positive legacy is the significant shift in the attitudes and behaviours of women towards their money, and more importantly, their investments.
When it comes to investing, it’s well-reported that women make up a much smaller proportion of the investor base. A recent survey from Boring Money found that women have £599 billion less in ISAs, investment accounts and private pensions than their male counterparts. But has persistently high inflation coupled with savings rates that – while rising – are not keeping pace with inflation and a growing focus on creating financial buffers for unexpected events – caused things to change?
In September 2012, Nutmeg began offering investments to consumers in the UK, so we decided to look back at a decade’s worth of data and investor trends to better understand whether the gender investment gap is closing.
Most common barriers to investing
The most common barriers to investing – a perception of not having enough money, not knowing where to start investing, and a lack of trust in the industry – are broadly aligned across the genders. Despite both genders having the same reservations, for decades, men in the UK have been far more likely to invest, while women have been more likely to put their savings into cash.
According to the latest data from HMRC, 43% of stocks and shares ISA opened in the 2019/20 tax year were opened by women – but 55% of cash ISAs in the same year were opened by women. This difference is despite the fact that the value held in ISAs in total is split evenly across the genders – with women accounting for 50% of the ISA holdings worth £50,000 or more.
While the broader figures suggest there is still more to do, when we look back there are signs for optimism. At the end of 2022, 43% of Nutmeg’s 200,000 clients were women, compared to one third (33%) in 2017 and just a quarter (24%) in 2013.
Why are more women engaging with investments?
The start of the Covid-19 pandemic marked a turning point for female investors, as the number of women who started investing with Nutmeg rose by 5%. As a result of lockdown restrictions many people have found that they had more savings than they have previously had. The pandemic also led many people to consider whether or not they felt they had a sufficient financial buffer, to cope with life’s unforeseen circumstances.
The combination of more disposable income and a desire to build a rainy-day fund, has led many to consider investing. According to Nutmeg research among 2,000 UK adults conducted in February this year, 29% of women said creating a buffer for life’s unforeseen events and emergencies is a top financial priority at the moment.
Personally, I think there’s an additional, softer but still crucial element to this. Money has always been a great taboo in the UK, in fact, British adults would rather talk about relationships and sex than they would money and finances.
However, in the last few years there has been a growth in money forums, bloggers, social media influencers and online communities all motivated to “normalise” talking about money, investing and financial planning. This growth in online communities has brought investing to an audience that may have previously thought that investing wasn’t for them.
Are women better investors?
So, if more women are turning to investing – do women make good investors? Nutmeg data suggests that women typically take a more measured approach to market volatility than men. During major drawdown events, the data shows that women are around 25% less likely to withdraw their investments than men. Women are also less likely to change their risk profile on the platform amid volatility.
Where are women investing their money?
When it comes to investing there are a variety of options for the would-be investor: do you opt to pick your own individual stocks and shares to build a portfolio from scratch or would you rather choose an investment provider that manages your investments for you? At Nutmeg, we allow you to invest in a diversified portfolio providing access to a range of assets, sectors and geographies, that matches your tolerance for risk and is managed by a team of professionals for you.
Beyond the choice of whether or not you choose to try your hand at stock-picking or choose an investment provider to manage your money for you, there are also choices to be made around the types of investments you hold. The Boring Money research highlighted that women are more interested in sustainable investment options than their male counterparts. A trend that is borne out in the Nutmeg data, which shows that women represent 51% of our socially responsible investors.
While this growing investment appetite from women is positive, we’re not at the end of the road yet. With these shifts in attitudes towards finances set to stay for the long term, the industry needs to act now to better address issues that are hindering further investment, such as confidence in money management and trust in the investment sector.
As with all investing, your capital is at risk. The value of your portfolio with Nutmeg can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invest. Tax treatments depend on your individual circumstances and may be subject to change in the future.
- Consumer research conducted by Opinium between 24th February – 28th February 2023 via an online survey. The sample is comprised of 2,000 UK adults, weighted to nationally representative criteria.
- Nutmeg client data, correct as at 21st February 2023.