How can women can stop lagging men in investing?

When it comes to investing, studies show that women are far less confident than men. Women tend to focus on short-term savings rather than building wealth through investing. Women leaders at Sanlam Investments – an asset manager firmly committed to democratising investing to foster greater inclusivity – feel passionate about changing this. This Women’s Month, six women from Sanlam Investments share their views on how we can galvanise more women to invest and grow wealth. 

Chantelle Pretorius, Credit Portfolio Manager, Sanlam Investments

Chantelle Pretorius, Credit Portfolio Manager at Sanlam Investments

Would you say that women have very different attitudes toward money than men?

Absolutely. On average, women are more risk-averse than men. Generally, women focus on ‘wealth-preservation’, rather than ‘wealth-accumulation’. While women might save a larger percentage of their salary than men, their investments tend to be in lower-risk assets such as cash. Understanding this disparity and engaging with women on the benefits of a well-diversified investment portfolio is critical in ensuring that women are well-prepared for retirement.

In a future world where women are confidently investing and growing wealth, what would the knock-on effect be on the rest of their lives, careers and society at large?

Women prefer to align their investments with their personal values. Some studies have found that investing in ways that benefit the planet and have a positive effect on society are more important to women than absolute returns. Issues such as education, healthcare and employee welfare are important considerations for women when deciding where to invest. The concept of ‘responsible investing’ should increase the percentage of female investors, which in turn will mean that women will have a larger say on corporate behaviour and, ultimately, drive environmental and societal change.

Manka Sebastian, Portfolio Manager at Sanlam Properties

Manka Sebastian, Portfolio Manager at Sanlam Properties

Would you say that women have very different attitudes toward money than men? 

Definitely. The difference lies in the intent. For women it goes beyond maximising returns. In my experience, women’s attitude towards money is that of creating generational security. As we have grown into ‘owning our space’ in the world of investments, the one question I often get asked is “How should I be investing my money now so that I am able to provide for my family and set them up for their next stage in life?”

In a future world where women are confidently investing and growing wealth, what would the knock-on effect be on the rest of their lives, careers and society at large?

The knock-on effect I see is the maximisation of resilient financial and social returns. How many stories have you heard of mothers, aunts and sisters feeding families with the modern version of two fish and five loaves? If you want a rand to go further, give it to a woman! As our intellect and voices grow confidently louder in the investment world, we will direct investment conversations and careers towards ideas that are resilient and impactful.

What are easy, non-intimidating ways for women to move into the investment space?

Start with your three closest friends. The same way we have book and wine clubs, parent forums, etc, we should also have investment clubs. Invite a qualified Chartered Financial Planner (CFP) to kick you off.  Agree that once a month, each one of you will bring one company, unit trust or ETF to the club that would be a great investment. With investment platforms such as EasyEquities, EasyProperties and Satrix, investing has become so easy and much less intimidating. It is the equivalent of the modern day stokvel.

How can women become investment champions for others?

Purposefully and intentionally look for investment vehicles that are led by women and managed by women. In your circles, encourage each other to explore financial options such as EasyEquities and Satrix.

Lilian Lerm, Portfolio Manager: Absolute Return And Living Annuities at Sanlam Investments

Lilian Lerm, Portfolio Manager: Absolute Return And Living Annuities at Sanlam Investments

In a future world where women are confidently investing and growing wealth, what would the knock-on effect be on the rest of their lives, careers and society at large?

Women are the glue that keeps society together. We have a far-reaching impact on our communities and, as such, we are able to drive incredible change that can have a ripple effect throughout our country and the world. As natural (and often primary) caregivers, women tend to invest their time and money in their families, making sure they provide for everyone’s needs. The reality, however, is that a gender pay gap still exists, which puts women at a disadvantage when it comes to having extra money to save. 

Women also usually do not seek financial advice independently from their partners, or at all. When all of these factors are taken into account, women tend not to have as much savings invested, and therefore do not have the financial independence that they otherwise would enjoy. It is therefore incredibly important that girls are educated in finance topics, such as budgeting and investing, from a very young age, and we need to continue to fight for the elimination of the gender pay gap. 

If women are empowered to take control of their own financial futures through investing from a young age, they will be able to invest in their own prosperity and also pay this forward to future generations. If we can accomplish this, it will go a long way to reducing education inequality, which in turn will further our goals of equal opportunity for everyone in our country.

Wandile Mhlanga, Client Services Team Leader at Sanlam Collective Investments

Wandile Mhlanga, Client Services Team Leader at Sanlam Collective Investments

Would you say that women have very different attitudes toward money than men? 

Women are nurturers by nature and, as such, their attitudes towards money often revolve around providing security and comfort for themselves and loved ones. This also results in women being more mindful of their money-spending habits. There is a quote by Erik S Gray which states that “Whatever you give a woman, she will make it greater. If you give her a house, she’ll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she’ll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she’ll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her”.

What are the easy, non-intimidating ways for women to move into the investment space?

Women need to “Lean In”. This title comes from a book by Sheryl Sandberg where she speaks about the different ways women can easily occupy spaces in the world. The book emphasises being more confident and knowing what you want. As women, we need to know our worth and, once we know it, it will feel less intimidating to move into the investment space. Women need to read more about investing and understand the industry and what it entails. We need to look for opportunities to boost our confidence and find support structures to encourage us to go for it.

How can women become investment champions for others?

We need to support and uplift each other. Women who speak less in group discussions are seen as having less influence. Women should set an example by making sure that our ideas are heard. In the boardroom, instead of sitting at the end of the table and edge of the room – away from positions that convey status – rather sit front-and-centre and be at the heart of the discussions. We also need to encourage each other to aim high and take risks. As women, we need to celebrate each other and give one another direct feedback which can help us learn and grow.

Thembeka Khumalo, Client Relationship Manager at Satrix

Thembeka Khumalo, Client Relationship Manager at Satrix

Globally, women are managing more wealth than ever before, investing confidently across complex asset classes. Where to from here?

Looking back a decade or two ago, South African women have made huge strides when it comes to gaining independence, getting an education, and becoming financially aware. Along with this paradigm shift has come a steady increase in the number of women who invest. Currently, about 42% of the SatrixNOW client base is female, in comparison to 2015 when women made up only about 30%, and this has been wonderful to see, despite the challenges such as the gender pay gap. South Africa has a median gender pay gap of between 23% and 35%, while according to the International Labour Organisation, the average global gap is about 20%. 

More can be done around financial literacy specifically targeted at women and what they can bring to the table if they start the investing journey. While women may be viewed as more risk averse, this trait can hold them in good stead in the long term, once they are invested. A survey by BlackRock found that 72% of women rejected “riskier” equities, bonds or real estate, as opposed to 59% percent of men. In my interactions with potential investors, I have found that women take their time wanting to understand what they are investing in and the mechanics of the actual investment, whereas the question I often get from men is “What returns will I get if I invest xxx?”. 

Armed with their unique, innate qualities and the platforms and instruments at their disposal these days, South African women really can start investing confidently and taking charge of their financial futures. 

In a future world where women are confidently investing and growing wealth, what would the knock-on effect be on the rest of their lives, careers and society at large?

The rise in the economic contribution by women leads to a direct benefit to individual households and the economy at large. Women also tend to live longer than men and this has implications for their retirement.  According to the 2020 World Health Organisation’s Health Life Expectancy report, women outlive men everywhere in the world. 

For women who have children, the knock-on effect of being a financially confident investor and wealth generator is the family legacy that is created through the passing down of core values of investing through the lens of women. Imparting that financial education to their children means instilling a good culture of investing, which can be passed on from generation to generation. 

What are easy, non-intimidating ways for women to move into the investment space?

Financial instruments like Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)and unit trusts are simple instruments that give exposure to the stock market in a very cost-effective manner. Further to this, low-cost investment platforms like SatrixNOW have made access to investing even easier and in a society like South Africa, having no minimums on the platform is a real game changer and signifies that democratising access the market is really at the heart of what we do.  

How can women become investment champions for others?

I am very passionate about keeping the investment conversation alive not only around Women’s Month but throughout the year and my philosophy has always been “Share what you know” – be it at lunch with friends, dinner with family or even at book club meetings! Keep the conversation going and as you acquire that piece of knowledge about investing, share it with your circle, and that circle will share it with their other circle of friends and family. We are more open to receiving information from our friends and family and, because it’s a safe space, we also tend to feel confident to ask questions. I believe that by sharing knowledge in this way, we can truly become investment champions for others.

Karen Wentzel, Head Of Annuities at Sanlam Corporate

Karen Wentzel, Head Of Annuities at Sanlam Corporate

Globally, women are managing more wealth than ever before, investing confidently across complex asset classes. What happens next?

In my view, South Africa has the policies and strategies that we need to make a success of gender equality, but the implementation of the policies has been lacking. We are moving in the right direction; just in the last two months, with in-person conferences and meetings back on the agenda, I noted a few more young and influential females on the stage and in leadership positions. However, looking at boardrooms, CEOs and decision-makers, the imbalance still exists. And the pandemic definitely exacerbated the gender divide – of the 3 million job losses during the 2020 lockdown in South Africa, 2 million were women.

Recently, while doing the Whale Trail running challenge, one of my male friends explained the female “imposter syndrome” to me. This is defined as ‘bright, capable, accomplished women who doubt their abilities and doubt that they have fairly earned their success; that their success and achievements are a result of luck. They are concerned that they will be ‘found out’ and they will be ousted as an imposter’. I am surrounded by very talented women every day, but still see that a lot of women suffer from this ‘imposter syndrome’. 

I believe that women should encourage each over to realise our true potential and share it with one another on platforms like women in finance network and the Medical Women’s International Association.

Some tips to fight the symptoms, inside and outside of the boardroom:

  1. Share your feelings with other women
  2. Stop comparing yourself to other people
  3. Use social media moderately 
  4. Write down your abilities and refuse to let anything or anybody hold you back on what you want to achieve.

Would you say that women have very different attitudes toward money than men? If so, in what ways do they differ? 

Women are in control of a lot of things in the household, they generally have a better sense of living expenses and the cost of raising children. However, sadly, very few women have a long-term view of money in relation to building their assets and saving for retirement. Women can be found to postpone or even avoid investment decisions until a crisis occurs. 

To help change this, women need to take control of their investments, educate themselves and empower one another – especially when it comes to retirement savings. It is here that intermediaries such as brokers and trustees should assist. Decision-makers need to help educate women on the balance between short-term spending and long-term investments and the significance of being financially independent.

In a future world where women are confidently investing and growing wealth, what would the knock-on effect be on the rest of their lives, careers and society at large?

There are two aspects we cannot ignore when thinking about women. They involve finances and financial planning.

First and foremost, women generally live on average five to six years longer than men. Because of this, they need more savings and investments to cover them for their longer lifespan. 

Secondly, unfortunately, 44% of marriages end before their tenth anniversary, at an average age of 40. At retirement, a person needs a multiple of at least 15 times their annual salary. If a woman only starts saving for retirement at age 40 (hypothetically at divorce), she then needs to save 40% of her salary to achieve the multiple of 15 at retirement. Furthermore, 55% of divorce cases also involve children under the age of 18. Having children as a priority and saving 40% of a salary may not be realistic or even achievable for many women.

What are easy, non-intimidating ways for women to move into the investment space?

Social prejudices and stereotyping put women in unpleasant positions regarding financial issues. Let’s not perpetuate the myth! Don’t depend upon someone else for your own financial security. It is critical that women take charge of their investments and finances from early on in their lives. Each woman should at least have their own investment, separate from their husbands if they’re married.

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