How women’s wealth is driving economic change

06 March 2020

5 minute read

Women are getting richer. There are now almost 39,000 women around the world that fall into the Ultra-High Net-Worth (UHNW) category (those that have a net worth of $30m or more)1.

This is almost 15% of the total, a record-high share. But it’s also a reflection of how men still dominate among the wealthiest sectors of society. The picture is slightly better for younger women – for those UHNW individuals under 50 the figure is almost 1 in 5 – but there is still some way to go before the gender split is truly in balance.

Yet as women become wealthier, their influence is growing. They are beginning to redefine areas that have traditionally been focused on, and dominated by, men.

Women have more financial power than ever before, with more than 60% of the UK’s wealth expected to be in their hands by 2025," says Karen Frank, CEO of Barclays Private Bank and Overseas Services2.

Women have more financial power than ever before, with more than 60% of the UK’s wealth expected to be in their hands by 2025

Karen Frank, Barclays CEO of Barclays Private Bank and Overseas Services

What’s driving the increase?

The growing number of wealthy women can be put down to a range of factors, including new trends in global wealth distribution, shifts in cultural attitudes and more intergenerational wealth transfers.

But another factor in the growing number of UHNW women has been the rise of female entrepreneurship.

This can be seen in the UK, where more investment is flowing towards female-founded start-ups. In 2011, 11% of startups raising equity were founded by women, says Juliet Rogan, head of High Growth and Entrepreneurs at Barclays. That had grown to 21% by 2018.

In the US, the gender gap between male and female entrepreneurs is closing. In 2019, there were nine female entrepreneurs for every 10 male ones, up from 7.5 in 20183.

And while men still dominate entrepreneurship around the world, there are three countries where women take the lead – Qatar, Madagascar and Saudi Arabia4.

Redefining the boardroom

In many ways, high-net-worth (HNW) women are redefining the boardroom simply by being there. More pathways are opening up for women to ascend to the most financially rewarding positions in corporate businesses, increasing the number of them being given opportunities to become HNW individuals in the first place.

This can be seen by the increasing influence that women are gaining in wider executive positions. They held 16.9% of board seats worldwide, according to Deloitte’s 2019 Women in the Boardroom report, up by 1.9% since 20175.

And while there is still a long way to go before women achieve fair representation, those that are present in the boardroom are making their presence felt. Research suggests that businesses make better acquisition and investment decisions, with less aggressive risk taking, when they have women on the board6.

Reinventing financial services

As wealth among women grows, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the financial services that cater to High-Net-Worth individuals may need to adapt to better cater to female priorities.

According to a report by WealthiHer, almost three-quarters of women believe men have different investment attitudes and styles2.

“Women are a force to be reckoned with,” said Tamara Gillan, founder of WealthiHer. “We believe the female attitude to wealth, with a desire to seek new opportunities for family and investments that promote social change and a better life for others as well as ourselves, means this is good news for everyone”.

The report also suggests that women want more information before committing to ambitious investment decisions. HNW women may turn to wealth advisors and private bankers in this scenario but – with 36% of women feeling patronised by the industry and 28% wanting less jargon – it’s essential that advisors can communicate effectively while tailoring financial strategies to suit women’s requirements.

“Female preference around growing protecting and managing their wealth can vary considerably from their male counterparts,” said Frank.

“Therefore, it is fundamental that we understand all of our clients’ motivations to ensure our solutions are tailored and relevant,” she continued.

Barclays Private Bank is proud to announce that it is a founding partner of WealthiHer – a network for UHNW women. It has been established to champion the diversity in women’s wealth. The network’s end goal is better servicing female investors and returning greater impact, for the benefit of everyone.

WealthiHer logo

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