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Listen up, financiers: Women have money, and they want to invest it responsibly

Research by the world's first responsible investing platform for women, has shown that women overwhelmingly want to invest their money in a way that benefits people and the environment. But the industry isn't keeping up with their needs.

Two-thirds of women want to invest their money in a way that not only generates sound financial returns, but also has a positive social and environmental impact, new research by community platform Moxie Future has found. 

Released on Tuesday, the ‘Understanding Female Investors’ study commissioned by the Hong Kong and Dubai-based company polled 2,536 women from Australia, China, Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom, and found that 83 per cent of them care where their money is invested; not just the financial returns. 

They want their money to be spent on causes such as addressing poverty and income inequality, access to health care, and climate change, the research showed. 

About 69 per cent of women said there was an urgent need to invest responsibly, while 63 per cent of them said they were motivated and would be interested in responsible investment products if they were available. Examples of such products could include thematic investment funds focused on climate change, environmental protection, sustainable infrastructure, and health and wellbeing.

Women in China showed the highest levels of willingness to spend on such products, with 91 per cent of them expressing an interest in doing so. This was likely because Chinese women face more visible challenges such as pollution, the report explained. 

Jessica Robinson, founder, Moxie Future, said: “Our survey shows that female investors want more than just good financial returns.”

She said that the survey only polled women because the objective of the research was not to compare their interests against those of men. Rather, “the research is about shining a light on women, and the message is a positive one,” said Robinson.

We are seeing that it is possible to take something that women have for too long kept quiet about and transform it into a powerful movement…The collective female voice is unstoppable – combine this with the transformational power of investing and we really can reshape our future.

Jessica Robinson, founder, Moxie Future

Barriers to benefits

Despite high levels of interest and motivation in investing responsibly, women are often stymied by a lack of confidence to make decisions about responsible investment, and a lack of trust that products would deliver competitive returns, the research found. 

For instance, 77 per cent of Chinese women were confident or very confident about their financial decision-making capabilities, the highest percentage among the countries polled—but 58 per cent of them felt there was a lack of tried and tested responsible investment products on the market.

In Germany, meanwhile, half of all women polled said they had a low level of confidence in making money decisions. 

Given this knowledge and confidence gap, it was clear that not only is there a disconnect between women and the financial services sector, but there are untapped opportunities to deliver products and services tailored to the needs and interests of socially conscious investors, Robinson noted.  

One place to start is the complex, jargon-filled language of the financial world, Robinson told Eco-Business. 

“It is as though finance and investment is a world that only a few are allowed to play in,” she said. “So we need to break down this perception and challenge the mystical narrative that someone in the finance industry has done so well to create. Let’s begin by talking in a language that everyone understands.”

In addition to making information more accessible, financial service providers also need to address the needs of women in a more meaningful, customised way, Moxie Future urged, citing  a 2014 study by the New York-based Centre for Talent Innovation which showed that 67 per cent of women feel misunderstood by their financial advisors.

The women polled by Moxie Future echoed this view, noting that finance professionals were not offering advice that aligned with their values.

But beyond the economic potential to be unlocked from winning over female clients, responsible investing “is quite simply the way of the future,” she said.  

“In the same way that institutional investors are finally embracing sustainable and responsible investment, so too will retail investors – the woman and man on the street,” Robinson said. 

Acknowledging the ongoing conversation about gender equality and women’s empowerment taking place with increasing prominence and urgency at a global scale, Robinson shared that the Understanding Female Investors report was deeply relevant to the discussion.

“We are seeing that it is possible to take something that women have for too long kept quiet about and transform it into a powerful movement,” she observed. “From my perspective, the collective female voice is unstoppable – combine this with the transformational power of investing and we really can reshape our future.” 

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