The rise of the female investor

14 October 2021

4 minute read

More women are investing – but the investment gender gap remains.

Who's it for? All Investors

The value of investments can fall as well as rise and you could get back less than you invest. If you’re not sure about investing, seek professional independent advice.

What you’ll learn:

  • How more women are starting to invest
  • Why investment gender gap persists – the barriers to investing for women
  • How to get started with an investment portfolio.

The army of female investors is growing with the realisation that investing can be a great way to get your money working for the longer term and isn’t as complex as many people first assume.

Research we carried out at Barclays Smart Investor1 shows a rise in female investors over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the beginning of 2020, over a quarter (27%) of new investors are women, up on the previous year.

The study consulted 2,000 people who had either invested or considered investing in the past and found that two in three (69%) had managed to save under lockdown.

Yet many more women than men have used this additional cash to invest for the first time at 36%, compared with just 21% of men.

These findings buck the trend where usually men take the lead. Overall, there are still more male investors than female but experts agree that it’s encouraging to see a rise in the number of women taking control of their wealth.

Holly Mackay of website Boring Money said: “It’s great to see more women investing.

“If we look at the newer investors in 2020 overall, some followed a sensible well-diversified route, while others jumped straight into share trading and crypto dabbling. Women are more likely to take the well-diversified route and to seek out mainstream funds which can spread the risk around lots of different investments.”

The battle of the sexes

Women tend to follow best practice by sitting tight and checking their portfolio on a less frequent basis, according to our study.

When asked how often they check their investment performance, men will review it an average of 16 times per month, compared to just 10 for women. Nearly one in five male investors (17%) check their portfolio every day, compared to just 12% of female investors.

A Warwick Business School study for Barclays previously revealed that women who invest generally achieve better returns than their male counterparts, outperforming them by 1.8 percentage points over three years2.

The rise of online investing

Digital advice services – also known as robo-advisers - played a significant role in encouraging more investors to take the plunge, it seems. This is particularly true among younger women.

Our study revealed that nearly one in five (18%) young women who invest say that they use a robo-adviser, compared to just 9% of young men. Young people are considerably more likely to use a robo-adviser, with 14% of under 25s using one, compared to just 6% of over 55s. A quarter of investors (25%) also said that robo-advisers had boosted their confidence when investing.

Clare Francis, Director at Barclays Smart Investor, said: “It’s really positive to see more women starting to invest for their future.

“For a long time many have seen the investment market as one dominated by older men, but thanks to new technology and the rise of digital advice, we have seen more diversity in this year’s surge of new investors.

“As a nation we’re not saving enough for our future, so hopefully those who have started to invest this year will continue to do so, as it should help them achieve their longer-term financial goals.”

Breaking down the barriers to investing

There are a number of obstacles for women who want to build up a meaningful investment portfolio including the gender pay gap and the fact that women are traditionally the ones to take time out of their career and raise a family. Both these lead to women typically earn less over their lifetime.

However, women who leave their savings sitting in a cash account risk missing out on potentially higher returns from Investment ISAs, also referred to as Stocks & Shares ISAs, which could impact their financial stability.

Considering that women tend to live longer than men, it is crucial they ensure money is working as hard as possible.

Holly MacKay added: “You don’t need to be an expert to get going and to make some sensible decisions. Time is a major barrier, of course. It’s hard to get your head around finance when you’re wading through that ever-expanding to-do list. Sometimes just putting a toe in the water can be the best thing to do.

“Get used to investing with a small amount initially and learn as you go, before committing more substantial amounts.”

Help is at hand

There are plenty of resources at your fingertips to help you get started in building a portfolio if you’re new to the world of investing or want to build on existing investments.

If you’d prefer to take a more hands-on approach and choose your own funds, the Barclays Funds List could help. There are thousands of funds available on Smart Investor and for many, that amount of choice can be overwhelming and make investing a daunting prospect. The Barclays Funds List helps narrow down the choice and is made up of a number of funds from each of the investment sectors we believe are key for building a diversified Smart Investor portfolio.

You can also choose Ready-made Investments (RMI). There are five RMI funds available on Smart Investor and they all invest in a mix of shares, bonds and cash because as already mentioned, diversification is important when it comes to investing as it helps reduce the impact of market falls. But the amount each RMI fund holds of each type of asset differs, so just like us, each one acts in a slightly different way.

To get started all you need to do is choose which fund to go for. Whether you’re more comfortable with a low-risk approach or are happy to take greater risks for potentially higher returns, there should be one to match your needs.

If like a growing number of investors, you would like to use a digital investment service and have a professional manage your investments, consider Plan & Invest which lets you do just that. If you have a Barclays current account and at least £5,000 to invest, you could open a Plan & Invest account.

It’s what’s known as a discretionary management service which means that once you’re ready to open your account, we will take care of everything for you. We select and manage your investments to make sure you are on track to meet your goals. And if your circumstances change, our experts will make the necessary adjustments to your investments.

The way Plan & Invest works is you tell us about yourself and your goals, then once you’ve completed our online questionnaire, we’ll create an investment strategy just for you. We’ll work out how much you can afford to invest and create a personalised Investment Plan designed to help you reach your goals.

Get your money working harder

So whatever your circumstances, there should be an investment option suitable for you. The key with investing is that it’s for the long term so don’t invest money you may need in the next five years – that’s what cash savings should be used for. However, if you’ve got your savings in place and your short-term financial goals covered, it’s worth considering whether the time is right for you to join the growing number of people who are trying to get their money working harder by investing.

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The value of investments can fall as well as rise. You may get back less than you invest. Tax rules can change and their effects on you will depend on your individual circumstances.

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