Investment Equality

 

It’s time for equality to arrive for investors.

Women participate fully in the economy but there is a gender imbalance when it comes to investment.

I've written many, many column inches, trying to encourage people to invest. I truly think that – after looking after your health and your relationships – it's perhaps the most important thing you can do for yourself and your family.

And if you're reading this, there's a fair chance you feel at least partly the same. But here's something I hope you might find shocking – despite it being a universal truth, there's one part of our community that is dramatically under-represented among the investing ranks. And it's the largest part of our community – women.

And when I mean dramatically, I'm not kidding. Membership of investment services, like the one I run at The Motley Fool, are usually somewhere around 85 per cent male. Facebook-based investing groups are usually more than 70 per cent male. Attendances at investment seminars are similarly overwhelmingly male.

There's plenty of evidence that women are better investors than men, so there's no genetic reason to support such a gender imbalance.

But I want to make a far more important point: just as women have achieved (and, unfortunately in some cases, are still fighting for) equality in many areas of life, it's important that it extends to investing as well. And that's for both moral and pragmatic reasons.

In our progressive (in a social, not political sense) society, women vote, drive, work, travel, buy homes and dozens of other things. They're, rightly, taken for granted, even if inequalities remain. But they don't invest, at least not in large numbers. And they should.

Whether single, in a committed relationship or married, women should be investing. Either on their own, or as equals with their partners. We know that women have less superannuation than men – and given the gender imbalance, it's almost certain that they have less money invested outside super, too.

Investing provides the means to build long-term wealth. That means independence. And whether she's single now, in a relationship where each partner manages their own money, or will be single in future (whether by death, divorce or separation), both the money that can be made and the investment skills that are developed will stand her in good stead into the future.

Women who start investing too late are at an inescapable mathematical disadvantage. Women who lose a partner and then have to grapple with finances they've never previously been involved in will have financial stress added to their grief. And, frankly, women who aren't investing are missing out on the opportunity to take control of their financial lives – a key step towards full equality between the sexes.

Published on Motley Fool site by Scott Phillips, Motley Fool investment adviser; Sunday 6th March 2016

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