THINKING AHEAD – THE PSYCHOLOGY OF INVESTING FOR WOMEN
M2Woman, October 2022
It’s often not a subject that makes for everyday conversation, but savings, investments and superannuation have a fundamental bearing on our quality of life for ourselves and our families for the future. In spite of the introduction of KiwiSaver and an increase in education, there are still hurdles for many people to achieve their retirement goals or even create opportunities for future generations.
Unfortunately, these hurdles seem to be compounded for women, not only in terms of the wage gap but also in career progression. While men are getting more involved in the raising of children these days, it is still the majority of women that take time out of the workforce to raise a family. And then when they come back into the workforce, they may not be coming back in a full-time capacity, there may also be a period of retraining to get back to where they were when they left the workforce. This leaves a big chunk out of KiwiSaver contributions, ongoing investing and saving for the future.
Yvonne Davie who leads the Superannuation and Savings team of advisers at Craigs Investment Partners suggests that more needs to be done across the board, to address this hurdle, but there is a lot that women can also do individually with the right advice.
“The government needs to look more at how we can address some of those issues in terms of the gap when women are out of the workforce. But I think that women can also make the most of the time that they are in the workforce by getting the right advice to ensure that their investment funds are invested appropriately.”
It’s not just the wage gap and career path that can hold female investors back, with women often less confident about their ability to manage long term finances. Lately, though, this has started to even out. U.S. Bank’s 2022 Women and Wealth Insights study has found that 55% of women and 60% of men are confident in their ability to manage their finances compared with 48% and 61%, respectively, in the bank’s report from two years ago.
And while women still have a little way to go in terms of financial self-confidence compared to their male counterparts, some studies suggest that they make better investors.
Fidelity Investments conducted a study in 2021 that analysed the behaviour of 5.2 million retail investors and found that women outperformed the men by about 0.4% per year which, when extrapolated out with those compounding returns year after year, creates a marked difference in the performance of their investments.
Davie has observed a similar situation here. “There are misconceptions that women are not good at investing, but by all accounts, we are actually pretty good at it. And I think some of that is down to being more open to seeking advice and setting a really good strategy with our investments and sticking with it. We don’t tend to chop and change or chase the best investments. There is plenty of evidence that shows it is time in the market, not timing the market that really counts when you’ve got a longer-term investment strategy.”
Davie does warn though that women tend to be a little bit more risk averse which is good for the short term but it is also important to ensure your investment portfolio is in growth assets for that longer term.
Of course, there is a lot more to it than deciding between a conservative or growth approach.
“As investment advisers, we need to understand the markets, the fundamentals and have a view on what’s happening in the economic cycle. But a major part of what a financial adviser does is working closely with clients to understand their needs. What are they trying to achieve? What are their longer-term goals or even their short-term goals around their life stage?” says Davie.
Having a good adviser can also be important psychologically, not only during tough times in the market but also to help keep focused on the right strategy. The adviser’s job is to match that client’s risk appetite with the appropriate investment portfolio.
“During the highs and lows, it’s about getting that balance right. If somebody’s not going to sleep at night because their portfolio has dropped by 5% or 10%, then we need to adjust their portfolio accordingly.”
So as well as the financial benefits that come from having the right strategy, there is also a lot of peace of mind from working with advisers. And while there are challenges for women, Davie encourages them to reach out and get some advice.
“It’s about starting a conversation. I also think that having a conversation in the household about money is really important. Many women will be managing the household budget, and whilst that’s great, what are we doing about our investments? Where’s our emergency fund, should things go wrong? What are our longer-term goals? It’s about having open conversations at home and with your partner, with your family, with your kids. You don’t need a huge lump sum to start, you don’t need to be a multi-millionaire to be an investor. If you’re in KiwiSaver, you are an investor by virtue of being in there.”
And creating a sense of accessibility to advice is fundamental to continuing to change the statistics. Craigs Investment Partners has a Women’s Wealth programme which is run by women advisers around New Zealand, focusing on empowering women of all ages with more confidence and knowledge to start investing or become better investors.
“A big part of that is trying to address and educate women around what they can be doing to improve these outcomes. It is a big focus of our organisation and our advisers so that advice and support is really accessible.”
This article is general in nature and is not financial advice. It does not take into account your financial situation, objectives, goals, or risk tolerance. All investments involve risk and can go down as well as up. The Craigs Investment Partners Limited Financial Advice Provider Disclosure Statement can be viewed at craigsip.com/tcs. Visit craigsip.com.