Women and investment - trends across Europe

Despite the gender gap slowly closing, inequalities remain in many areas, including the financial sector.

BlackRock has reported the findings of several studies conducted in Europe on women and investments. One study found that only 18% of European women invest in financial assets, yet more than 60% of them don’t have any objections towards investing. 1 What is causing this reluctance?

Six women of different ages

To save or to invest, that is the question

Women prefer to save

Woman on top of a diving board

Despite a growing interest in investing, 79%2 of European women exhibit caution and have a habit of saving regularly. This may be due to a fear of taking risks or the belief that the amount they can invest is too small, among other reasons.

Disparities between countries

Roofs of 5 typical northern European houses

Women's attitudes to investing vary considerably from country to country. For example, up to a third of German and Austrian women never invest, compared to only 7% of Finnish and Swedish women.3

Investing raises concerns

Expert advice

64% of women use a financial advisor 46% of men use a financial advisor

Many women require reassurance before making an investment, and/or feel that their knowledge of financial concepts and products is too limited. As a result, it is not surprising that 64% of women seek financial advice, compared to only 46% of men.4

Investment platforms

The number of women signing up for its application has increased sixfold in one year

Additionally, almost half of female investors in Europe utilize an online platform, a trend that is on the rise. Although men still dominate on these platforms, women appear to be catching up. One European investment platform reports that the number of women signing up to its app has increased sixfold in a year, compared to only a fourfold increase for men.5

Pension provision

Women are more worried than men

female pensioners earn on average 32.5% less than their male counterparts

European women's primary motivation for investing is to save for retirement, whereas men are more driven by the potential for a long-term return on investment.6 39% of European women believe that they won't be able to sustain their current standard of living after retirement.7 This is a valid concern, as globally, women tend to live 4 years longer on average (75 years versus 71 years for men)8, yet their pensions are often lower. For instance, female pensioners in France receive an average of 32.5% less than male pensioners, and the gap is even greater in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Austria, exceeding 40%.9

Caution is the order of the day

78% of Europeans value safety over performance

Less than half of the European population has a retirement savings plan. And this percentage is even lower for women. Again, the gap is more pronounced in some countries. According to an OECD study, one third of Irish men have a pension plan, compared to only one quarter of Irish women.10

On the other hand, according to a study by Insurance Europe (European Insurance Federation), 78% of European women give priority to safety over performance, showing a significant gap of 10% with their male counterparts (68%).11

The Covid-19 impact

The pandemic has reinforced gender disparities

50% of European women say the pandemic has negatively affected their financial well-being

36% of Europeans, particularly the younger generation, feel that the pandemic has had a positive effect on their daily spending habits. Regrettably, the Covid-19 crisis has also led to an increased financial disparity between men and women. 50% of European women report that the pandemic has had a detrimental impact on their financial well-being, compared to 47% of European men.12

As a result, many are apprehensive about inflation and saving money, with considerable differences between countries. For instance, 64% of Polish women say they can no longer save due to the pandemic, compared to only 18% of Danish women.13

Lessons to be learned

1/3 of Europeans have become more aware of the importance of investment

Although the pandemic has brought significant harm, it has also had some positive outcomes. One third of Europeans have gained greater understanding of the importance of saving and investing for the long term as a means of having financial security during a crisis.

Investing, but sustainable: a positive impact on the environment

65% of European female investors are especially interested in combating global warming

72% of European women believe that sustainable investments are important, compared to 67% of European men, with this percentage surpassing 80% in Spain, Italy, and Switzerland.14

65% of European female investors are especially interested in combating global warming. This percentage is as high as 73% in Finland. Thus, investing in eco-friendly companies is a reasonable choice for many women.15

Women may be inclined to invest due to concerns about retirement, inflation, and global warming, however, they may still be hesitant to do so due to factors such as risk aversion, fear of not understanding financial logic, or a perception of not having enough funds.

Financial advisors, online platforms, and resources can help overcome these obstacles.

The BlackRock website, among other sources of information, provides explanations and articles for those looking to learn the basics of investing.

For beginners searching for accessible investment options with low fees, ETF

(Exchange-Traded Funds) can be a good starting point. They offer diversified portfolios across multiple securities and can be invested in for just a few tens of euros per month.

Find clear sources of information, choose investments that you understand, and start your investing journey!

What are ETFs?

1J.P. Morgan, Women and Investing: Planning for the Future, April 2021
2J.P. Morgan, Women and Investing: Planning for the Future, April 2021
3J.P. Morgan, Women and Investing: Planning for the Future, April 2021
4J.P. Morgan, Women and Investing: Planning for the Future, April 2021
5« Women outpace men in signing up to investment platforms » (« Les femmes sont plus nombreuses que les hommes à s'inscrire sur des plateformes d'investissement »), Financial Times, décembre 2020
6Fidelity International, Global Women & Money Study 2021, May 2021
7Fidelity International, Global Women & Money Study 2021, May 2021
8Population Reference Bureau, World Population data sheet 2021, Global life expectancy at birth
9Direction de la recherche, des études, de l’évaluation et des statistiques (DREES), « Les retraités et les retraites » (2021)
10"Towards Improved Retirement Savings Outcomes for Women", OECD Library, mars 2021
11"What do Europeans want from their pension savings ? » (Qu’attendent les Européens de leur épargne retraite ?), Insurance Europe, février 2020
12"European Consumer Payment Report 2020", Intrum, june 2020
13"European Consumer Payment Report 2020", Intrum, june 2020
14J.P. Morgan, Women and Investing: Planning for the Future, April 2021
15J.P. Morgan, Women and Investing: Planning for the Future, April 2021

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