For decades, women have been underrepresented in investing¹ – both professionally and as consumers. But, in the last several years, the tide has started to turn, and more women are investing² than ever before. Women are becoming more financially independent and are recognizing the importance of investing to secure their future.
In 2020, women controlled about a third of the world’s ³. But in the coming years, women stand to inherit an unprecedented amount of wealth as part of the greatest wealth transfer in history⁴. In the U.S., the majority of investable assets are controlled by Baby Boomers in joint households. Because women tend to live longer than men, they will gain control of the family purse strings before their wealth gets passed on to the next generation. Data from McKinsey⁵ shows that, by 2030, women could control the lion’s share of Boomers’ $30 trillion in financial assets.
The good news is, women are excellent investors⁶. But they still face challenges – whether they’re looking to live comfortably in retirement, invest for impact, help their children and grandchildren begin their own investment journeys, or all of the above, they’ll need to overcome common obstacles to meet their goals – and meaningfully narrow the investment gender gap. Fortunately, with the help of a gender-lens-informed portfolio manager, all of this is possible (and more).
Gender-Based Perceptions and Misconceptions
Women investors often get a bad rap⁷ – along with the assumption that they’re not as financially savvy as men. In fact, eight in 10 women say they’ve encountered these stereotypes. But in truth, these assumptions don’t hold water. Multiple studies have found that women investors outperform men, including recent research from Fidelity that concluded women’s portfolios surpassed men’s⁸ by nearly half a percentage point over a decade.
Even so, research shows women lag behind men⁹ in investment knowledge and confidence. And there are many reasons for these discrepancies, says Mary Lou Miles, partner and head of wealth management at Genus. “Everything from culture, to marketing, to the way that this financial education is ignored for the most part in the school system.” There is also the glaring income gap¹⁰ that women face as they are often paid less than men and may have less disposable income to invest.
Miles says these influences breed imposter syndrome in many women – from those who’ve come into money through inheritance to those who’ve had successful careers. “They sometimes feel detached from their investments, particularly if they’ve faced bias from male-dominated institutions” she says.
Finances can be intimidating. Acronyms can create exclusivity, there’s a lot at stake and someone who’s new to investing may not be aware of all their options. To overcome that challenge, education can go a long way.
There are now more educational resources available to women, allowing them to learn about the investment process and build their knowledge and confidence. Genus offers regular webinars that cover everything from estate and legacy planning¹¹ to values alignment¹² in an investment portfolio.
But often the most valuable information comes through meeting with a portfolio manager. “We focus on looking at long-term planning and asking questions they haven’t thought about,” says Miles. That includes exploring the client’s values, interests and goals for their legacy.
“Clarity of communication is key, and making sure they feel comfortable,” Miles adds. “And also that they’re part of the decision-making process – it’s more about them than us.”
Lack of Diversity in Wealth Management
For many women, feeling heard, understood and taken seriously in the financial services sector can be rare. Part of that is due to a lack of female representation among wealth managers.
“The investment industry is definitely male-dominated,” says Miles. One 2020 report found that just 18% of total financial advisors in the U.S¹³. are women. That lack of diversity can make for an intimidating environment for women, particularly if they’re new to investing. “That can be a barrier to entry for some prospective clients,” Miles says.
Seeking out a portfolio manager who is empathetic to their needs can help women to overcome this barrier. But that’s not always easy to find.
At Genus, we’ve been intentional about ensuring there’s gender diversity throughout the entire team, including management and the board of directors. “Our role is to be the trusted advisor who they can come to if they need help with anything,” says Miles.
More Ways Than Ever to Make an Impact
While historically, women investors may have felt at odds with wealth management, it’s clear that their participation represents a new chapter – and new potential – for impact.
Studies have found about 52% of women prefer to invest¹⁴ in companies with positive social or environmental impact, compared to 44% of men. As more women look to invest, there will be more questions about which companies are making a difference in the world, and an expectation that wealth management companies provide answers.
Genus has been offering sustainable investing solutions since 1994, and includes a suite of impact funds¹⁵. But Miles says there’s no textbook approach, and portfolio management comes down to each client’s personal values, needs and goals.
“A lot of people haven’t thought in terms of how their funds – and their portfolio – can meet their values,” she says. With a portfolio manager’s help, women investors can safely explore how best to put their wealth to work toward the issues that match their values – and truly lead the way in the growth in impact investing¹⁶.
Overall, the rise of women investors is a positive trend that could lead to more diversity and innovation in the investment industry. It is important for financial institutions and society as a whole to continue to support and encourage women in their investment endeavors.
Interested in exploring how our wealth managers can help you? Contact a Genus advisor to get started.
 Yale, A.J. (no date) Women are underrepresented in investing – here are 4 ways we can close the gap and work toward equality, Business Insider. Business Insider. Available at: https://www.businessinsider.com/personal-finance/women-and-investing (Accessed: March 1, 2023).
 Make way for women investors: Record numbers, higher returns – fidelity study finds 50% increase in women investing outside of retirement, new 10-year analysis reveals women out-performing men (2021) Business Wire. Available at: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20211008005269/en/Make-Way-for-Women-Investors-Record-Numbers-Higher-Returns—Fidelity-Study-Finds-50-Increase-in-Women-Investing-Outside-of-Retirement-New-10-Year-Analysis-Reveals-Women-Out-Performing-Men (Accessed: March 2, 2023).
 Zakrzewski, A. et al. (2021) Managing the next decade of women’s wealth, Canada – EN. Canada – EN. Available at: https://www.bcg.com/en-ca/publications/2020/managing-next-decade-women-wealth (Accessed: March 2, 2023).
 Hall, M. (2022) The Greatest Wealth Transfer in history: What’s happening and what are the implications, Forbes. Forbes Magazine. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/markhall/2019/11/11/the-greatest-wealth-transfer-in-history-whats-happening-and-what-are-the-implications/?sh=45b00d024090 (Accessed: March 2, 2023).
 Baghai, P. et al. (2020) Women as the next wave of growth in US wealth management, McKinsey & Company. McKinsey & Company. Available at: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/financial-services/our-insights/women-as-the-next-wave-of-growth-in-us-wealth-management (Accessed: March 2, 2023).
 Five reasons women are better investors than men (no date). Available at: https://financialpost.com/investing/five-reasons-women-are-better-investors-than-men (Accessed: March 2, 2023).
 Harris, D. (2017) Women investors get a bad rap, Forbes. Forbes Magazine. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2017/11/15/women-investors-get-a-bad-rap/?sh=4df457e63828 (Accessed: March 2, 2023).
 Blank, M. (2022) Women investors often outperform men, and here’s the simple reason why, The Motley Fool. The Motley Fool. Available at: https://www.fool.com/investing/2022/06/26/women-investors-often-outperform-men-and-heres-the/ (Accessed: March 2, 2023).
 New research: Female investors lag behind male counterparts in investment knowledge and confidence (2020) New Research: Female Investors Lag Behind Male Counterparts in Investment Knowledge and Confidence | FINRA.org. Available at: https://www.finra.org/media-center/newsreleases/2020/finra-foundation-news-new-research-female-investors-lag-investment (Accessed: March 2, 2023).
 The gender pay gap: Pay gap in Canada: The Facts (2022) Canadian Women’s Foundation. Available at: https://canadianwomen.org/the-facts/the-gender-pay-gap/#:~:text=According%20to%20Statistics%20Canada%20(2022,of%20every%20dollar%20men%20make. (Accessed: March 2, 2023).
 Genus (2021) Family, money & purpose webinar – watch on demand, Genus. Available at: https://genuscap.com/family-money-purpose-webinar/ (Accessed: March 2, 2023).
 Genus (2022) Watch on demand – how values-aligned investing works, Genus. Available at: https://genuscap.com/how-values-aligned-investing-works/ (Accessed: March 2, 2023).
 Women, minorities face ongoing challenges in financial advice industry (2021) National Association of Plan Advisors. Available at: https://www.napa-net.org/news-info/daily-news/women-minorities-face-ongoing-challenges-financial-advice-industry (Accessed: March 2, 2023).
 Iacurci, G. (2022) Women prefer values-based investing. here’s what that might mean for their wealth, CNBC. CNBC. Available at: https://www.cnbc.com/2022/06/24/women-prefer-values-based-investing-heres-how-that-impacts-their-wealth.html (Accessed: March 2, 2023).
 Impact investing (2022) Genus. Available at: https://genuscap.com/fossil-free-impact/impact-investing/ (Accessed: March 2, 2023).
 How women are driving growth in impact investing, (2022) Genus. Available at: https://genuscap.com/how-women-are-driving-growth-in-impact-investing/ (Accessed: March 2, 2023).