FEMALE WEALTH – THE MOST SIGNIFICANT EMERGING MARKET?

Introduction

Today we continue our look at how the female share of the global wallet is increasing more than almost any emerging market. Many banks write articles about the importance of this trend but, in our experience, few actually achieve anything like gender equality when it comes to senior advisors.

Female Wealth – The Most Significant Emerging Market?

Today’s world has become increasingly polarized, owing in no small part to the tunnel vision of social media. Whereas people used to get their world perspective from national newspapers or TV channels, the unlimited options of Internet enable everyone to filter their opinions through the narrow prism of the news outlets they’ve pre-selected. If you believe that the world is flat, there will be a blog or podcast supporting this view. If you believe that the Illuminati is a world conspiracy of the deep state and not just a Bavarian sect that died out in the 18th century, then there’s a plethora of You Tubers who think just like you. The world, it seems, is divided between CNN and Fox News with the middle ground rapidly disappearing.

This polarization can be seen to apply to gender as well. The feminist movement appears to have become more radicalized in recent times. According to Wikipedia, “Radical feminism is a perspective within feminism that calls for a reordering of society in which male supremacy is eliminated in all social and economic contexts. Radical feminists view society fundamentally as a patriarchy in which men dominate and oppress women. Radical feminists seek to abolish the patriarchy in order to liberate everyone from an unjust society by challenging existing social norms and institutions.” Whilst this view is obviously by nature extreme, it does not hide the fact that gender differentiation is becoming an increasingly important issue in society.

But what is the relevance of radical feminism to the world of wealth management? Surely very few female wealth management clients are radical? Indeed, this is certainly true but, in my opinion, the centre ground is shifting as well and issues of gender have become more important than ever before, both in the developed and developing worlds. The impact of the “Me Too” movement has been huge. The French actress, Catherine Deneuve, dared to criticize some of the extreme views of the Me Too movement and was forced to apologize. Indeed, one only has to look at what is happening in countries as diverse as India and Saudi Arabia to realize that the repercussions are being felt worldwide.

To return to wealth management, there are two schools of thought when it comes to the gender issue. The first is that a client is a client, each with his or her own particularities and that there should be no generic difference in approach between a male or female client. The second is that female clients should be managed in a different way to take into account certain recognized gender differences. At Norman Alex, we are proponents of this latter view and believe firmly that private banks and wealth management companies need to recruit more female advisors to address this market. In the past, it was often argued that a Brazilian businessman, for example, would prefer to deal with a Swiss private banker than a Brazilian one for confidentiality reasons. Whilst this might have been true when banking secrecy (i.e. hiding assets from the local tax authorities) was prevalent, it is less true now. Most people are more or less ethnocentric and prefer dealing with people of their own culture or faith.

I believe that this is even more the case for women. Their wealth is increasing at a greater pace than any emerging market yet their specific needs are often overlooked. Women are becoming increasingly successful in the business world and, according to Crédit Suisse’s 2018 Global Wealth Report, account for 40% of global wealth. When this wealth is created by succeeding as an entrepreneur or business executive, over 50% of women believe that it was more difficult for them than for their male peers. When the wealth is created through a divorce, for example, one can imagine that attitudes towards “male peers” can be even more negative. But whatever the source, all surveys agree that women’s attitude towards money is usually different from that of men. They are more risk averse, less confident at making investment decisions, more in need of communicating with their advisors etc…

To summarize, we at Norman Alex feel that there is a drastic need for banks and independent structures to increase the number of senior financial advisors working for them. According to our statistics, only 5% of clients are seriously addressing this issue and we know of only one where there is true gender parity. We would very much like to see this number grow.

(Ivor Alex).

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