Girls just want to have funds

Our female leaders across Barclays discuss why they started investing, how they choose their own investments, and share their top investing tips.

9 minute view

Who's this 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 independent advice.

When it comes to investing, fewer women do it than men. But here’s the odd part – those of us who do invest tend do better than the men. Several studies, including our own analysis, have shown that women produce higher average returns. So how can we get more women to join the party?

Our female leaders from the investment team here at Barclays, Nicola Eggers, Clare Francis and Catherine Penney share their expert knowledge and insight in a bid to help break down the barriers that are stopping many people from investing, and help those who already do invest, become more confident.



When it comes to investing, it seems that men have a thing or two to learn from us women, because on the whole it seems we're better at it.


So why is it that women invest around 30% less than men?


Well I'm joined today by two very senior women in investing here at Barclays, Catherine Penney and Clare Francis, and we're going to try and unpack that a little bit to see if we can help make women feel a bit more confident about investing for their future.


So just before we get into this, I guess it's really important to say that we know that and hopefully you as investors also know that stocks can go down as well as up and we need to be a bit mindful of that.


So just cracking on if I could ask you two, what first got you into investing?


For me,  my background is financial journalism, so I was writing about it a lot and if it hadn't been for my job, I probably wouldn't be doing it now.


But me and my late husband, he was self-employed, so we went to see an IFA to get him a pension really.


That's when we started using our ISA allowance every year and started investing in funds.


Me, as well, it was part of my job that I started looking at the investment world.


I suppose the first time I became aware of investments was really when it came to pension savings.


With defined contribution pensions, I was asked the question: where do you want to invest these amounts?


And I started looking at building a diversified portfolio within my pension so that I could actually save for the future.


What about you Nicky?


How did you get started?


So similar to you.


It was my first job but it came from being really interested from an early age.


I guess the thing that I've tried to build up is starting early as little as you can afford, as regularly as you can make it, so things like Christmas and birthday presents.


My children have never had one of those from their grandparents, it's always been some some investments.


So that hopefully when they're 18 or so there'll be something a bit more meaningful.


As two senior women in the investing business, I guess you guys know a thing or two about how to build up a good quality portfolio.


Can you share a few of your insights with us?


It's one of those things if it's your day job, you feel that you should be really good at it.


But fundamentally all women are busy, whether you're running a home, whether you've got children, if you've got a job.


You're then trying to align saving and investing alongside that your busy life.


I have to admit I've always found it much easier to just set up a regular investment using funds.


Within my pension I've got a mainstream portfolio, which is some equities, some property, some bonds.


I try to keep it balanced.


And in my late 50s, actually that's really a focus for me, to make sure that my wealth that I've saved within my pension is protected.


And I'm starting to de-risk it to some extent, but I still want some equity exposure in there.


And then I use my ISA, which is on an investment platform where I can actually stop and start and change it on a regular basis for that little bit more fun or racy stuff or looking at things like Far Eastern markets or trying to balance it out a bit so that across all of my wrappers, I've got the investment portfolio that I want.


But I'd use ETFs or funds all the time.


I haven't got the time to pick individual stocks.


I'm a bit more ad hoc, probably not as well planned.


I mean initially when we started we saw an IFA, who helped me  understand my risk profile and how much risk I was prepared to take.


And because I was earning in my late 20s, I had a very long time horizon.


So the recommendation - A few years left! Still going! But I'm at a stage now where the last few years have been really expensive for me for childcare, so actually I haven't been putting in a lot of new money and I've actually been taking it out.


And I think that's the other great thing that a lot of people think if it's invested and it's in an ISA  they can't touch it.


But of course you can and the idea is: it's there for your longer term.


Obviously I've been investing now for over 15 years and actually that's long term and it was suddenly a lightbulb moment when I was struggling with childcare costs and actually I've got some money there I can actually get at it.


Now my son's at school so I'm starting to build back up again.


But it's very much around funds, looking at perhaps what region or area or sector I don't have much exposure to and maybe  topping up then when it comes to putting in new money.


And it sounds from what you said as though one of the important aspects is about having a plan.


Sometimes you have to adjust that plan but but that's okay, but then just maintaining that  commitment when you can  or building it back up.


Actually if you started and if you're investing then if you plan does change, you've got that comfort blanket there that can help you.


Whereas if you don't invest and if you don't save and suddenly circumstances change, you've not got that back up which again is why it's really important to start as young as you can really.


And what you're saying, Clare, is really true.


If you have everything in one place, a pension gets set up by your employer when you start work.


If that's all you've got, you can't access it until you're over 55.


Having an ISA sitting alongside that, as well as savings accounts with your emergency cash in them, that way you've got something that you can access when you need it  and you can tap into it as needs.


And how about your portfolio, how do you plan that?


I guess I'm a bit of a mix of the two of you, so trying to do top ups where I can and ISAs.


Similarly these are the very expensive years for me as well, so not saving as much as I'd like to on top of my pension, but but just recognising that things may change and therefore not to feel overwhelmed and therefore not do anything.


It's  better to keep doing something and recognise that you can then work a bit harder at it in easier times.


But definitely diversify the portfolio.


I like to have the core very much in a completely ready-made style investment and then where there are thematics that I'm interested in, to  perhaps do a little bit of that on the side.


But of course that allows you to actually dip in and out when you want to.


The main thing about investments if you're busy is that you can't afford to sit down once a week or something like that to keep a track of the markets.


What you want to do is actually be able to look at it perhaps every quarter, every six months, have somebody who's there looking at it making those decisions for you in the meantime.


And lastly what else do you think we need to do to help women financially flourish?


Is there any other advice you to give or top tips?


Well, I think obviously we're coming up to the end of the tax year and we're all investors and the viewers, the people watching this, are already investing, which is great.


But if you haven't used your ISA allowance yet or we've not used all of it there's still time to top it up.


You've got until the 5th of April to use this year's allowance which is £20,000.


I suppose my suggestion to somebody would be take a look at what you've got holistically.


It's very easy to look at things in a very siloed basis and say that's my pension, that's my ISA, that's my savings account.


Actually all of it is you.


And you need to make sure that you've got the balance right between all of them so that it's delivering for you what you want to achieve out of your investments.


So thank you very much, Clare and Catherine for joining me and providing your insights.


And thank you for your time.


We hope that you found that insightful.


Here on International Women's Day, we just want to help our female investors feel that little bit more confident.


If you don't feel confident there's always advisors out there that you can turn to but in the meantime the key messages from us are: keep doing what you're doing to as much as you can as often as you can.


And try not to overly worry.


If you get your plan set up and you have a sensible plan that you can afford, then you're standing in good stead.

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