By 2020, women may control as much as $72 trillion of the world’s investable wealth – a number that’s forcing markets to care about how women deal with their finances and what issues concern them, according to a new report from S&P Global.
S&P Global recently polled men and women in the 11 countries with the biggest stock markets to gauge their sentiments about the financial markets, their own sense of preparedness and investment habits.
The biggest takeaway: women’s control of the world’s investable wealth could reach $72 trillion, yet women often feel less financially secure and less optimistic about their economic futures than men. This social and economic reality will affect their investment decisions and could impact global financial markets.
Women are more worried than men about finances
Both men and women are worried about their financial future. More than 70% of men and women in the U.K., Switzerland, Germany and France say they are at least somewhat worried about their financial future. But in every one of those countries, a higher percentage of women feel that way. Women in 10 out of the 11 nations said that men are better prepared for a financial setback than they are. (Only in Japan women and men were even on this question.) In Japan and Korea, more than eight in 10 women are concerned about their personal finances.
Even though women own an estimated 42% of the wealth in the U.S., the majority is still pessimistic about their finances, judging their situation to be “fair” at best. Only 26% of American women invest in the financial markets, even though 41% say now is the time to do so. That’s because women don’t feel they are in a secure enough position financially and don’t want to take on the risk associated with investing, according to the S&P Global report.
Nearly 40% of women in the U.S. say they’d be unable to afford their current lifestyle for more than a month if they lost their job. For 22% of women, the impact would be immediate, while only 13% of men say the same.
Millennial women’s personal finances are bleak. More than two-thirds of millennial women in North America say they are in “poor or fair” shape financially. (Overall, 60% of U.S. women say they’re in poor or fair financial shape.)
While three-quarters of women in the U.S. and Canada say they’re “somewhat worried” about their financial future, more than two-thirds feel that they’re in control of their financial well-being. They say that their own actions such as saving, smart investing, and working hard are more important than events out of their control, like market volatility.
Women make buying and investment decisions based on companies’ environmental and social impact in greater numbers than men
A majority of women in all 11 countries included in S&P Global’s poll say a company’s stance on environmental and social issues is important in their investment decisions. In the U.S., 79% of women – vs. 67% of men – view a company’s impact on those issues as critical in their investments. A company’s stance on those issues also impacted whether or not women chose to purchase their products and services.
It’s estimated that women own as much as 40% of the world’s total wealth, S&P Global says, so fund and asset managers’ increasing focus on social, governance, and environmental issues is likely to continue.
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