Holly Mackay

Written by

Holly Mackay

Content correct as of

09 March 2018


Shout out for women and Mums

International Women’s Day yesterday saw me grappling with several pieces for the press on how women deal with investing and the stock market.

Over the last 2 years I’ve sat in dozens of focus groups, ran campaigns to talk to women about the stock market, listened to women talk about what they like and what they hate, and trawled through thousands of data points and looked at who is buying what. It is a fact that as a group women are not engaging with the stock market, equate investing with gambling and find the jargon and unnecessary complexity a huge turn-off.

Whilst I believe we need a different approach, there’s a fine line between this and descending into Harriet Harman`s patronising “let’s make a pink ISA to appeal to the ladies!” territory.  

Here's what the data and the numbers say:

  • 12% of British women have stocks and shares ISAs compared to 19% of blokes.
  • The average woman has £24,000 in her pension – it’s £75,000 for the average bloke.
  • And by 65 the average man’s pension balance is five times bigger.
  • When asked to rate confidence out of 10 in setting up an investment account, 22% of women say 7+. Compared to 37% of men.

It doesn’t take a McKinsey consultant to identify that this is not ideal. (Although if a financial service company would like to pay me half of what McKinsey would charge to advise them that this is not ideal, please email me now!).

Perhaps more interestingly is why. Career breaks and gender pay gaps are major contributors yes, but there is also a noticeable reluctance from women to engage. This is not about ability but desire. As a group I think women are less tolerant of the bullsh!t and simply do not feel that this is a club which they are invited to join. Positive discrimination is very tricky but when you are surrounded by grey-haired white male economists in suits talking about the Footsie all the time, it’s quite hard for this to feel relevant.

If you know a kick-@ss lady who is awesome at most things - but who you suspect goes cross-eyed when she hears the investment experts strike up their band – will you forward her this email? Those figures above are etched onto my retinas and it’s all of our job to correct this imbalance in the little ways in which we can. Anyone can set up an investment online with as little as £1. Online pensions can be kick started from £25 a month. Our Best Buys will tell you who we like, who you like and which groups are best for beginners.

And if you run a financial services company, please consider the facts above and ask yourself what part you have to play in fixing this. If you have a daughter, try explaining and justifying these numbers to her. How is your status quo letting your potential female customers down? Investments are bottled human endeavour and initiative. They’re an amazing story. Tell it better!

Have a lovely weekend all and a shout out to mums everywhere this Sunday. Especially my lovely Mum who loyally reads this every week. Thank you for being so wonderful, so much fun and my rock xx.

Holly