HL Launches Financially Fearless Initiative to Bridge the Gender Investment Gap

Switch Your Money On podcast

• New HL initiative is launching on International Women’s Day. Financially Fearless aims to help close the gender investment gap.

• Data from HL shows that 62% of people who hold a stocks and shares ISA with HL are men.

• HMRC figures also show that women are making a great effort to build their ISAs: they’re more likely to have one than men – in 2019/20, 52% of ISA holders were women.

• When women do invest, they build impressive investment portfolios – among HL ISA clients, women who have taken the plunge and invested in ISAs hold more on average in them than men.

• Women are also more likely to adopt a ‘get rich slow’ strategy, holding around three quarters of their ISA assets in funds.

• The gender pensions gap has widened and now sees women retire with £137,000 less than men according to research by Now: Pensions.

• This week’s HL Switch Your Money On podcast features an all-female line up and focuses on what’s ahead for the next tax-year for finances.

Financially Fearless

Women are great savers – HMRC data on ISAs confirms this. Every year, women open more cash ISAs than men. This is despite the fact women still get paid less than men (the gender pay gap). Despite the fact, women often take career breaks to raise a family (the motherhood penalty) or to care for a sick or elderly relative (the good daughter penalty). And in more recent years, despite the havoc wrecked by a global pandemic on women’s careers and financial resilience.

But while women save, they still shy away from investing, with far more men opening stocks and shares ISAs. When women do invest, they achieve great results, data from HL reveals that women hold more on average in their ISAs than men.  Financially Fearless is an initiative aimed at creating a space where women can learn how to build their financial resilience and invest with confidence.

Maike Currie, head of content, Hargreaves Lansdown:

“The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #EmbraceEquity, and it strikes at the heart of what we are trying to achieve. Yes, women have equality in legislative terms, and that of course is a good thing. But we have a long way to go before we achieve true equity. As an industry, we need to work harder to get the opportunities and resources in place fit for the choices, circumstances and challenges women often face.

Women and men are not starting from the same place when it comes to financial resilience. This is arguably the most testament to the glaring gender pension gap. The knock-on effect of being paid less, caring for the generation above and below us, and shouldering the bulk of ‘unpaid work’ means women in the UK today end up with a pension pot of £136,800 less than men on average”.

Women are far more likely to invest on behalf of others

“When we looked at the gender split between men and women investing in children’s Junior stocks and shares ISAs the contributors were evenly split in terms of gender. Another indication perhaps that often women put others’ needs ahead of their own. Remember that warning on the plane: put on your own oxygen mask first, and only then you can help others. The same applies when it comes to money and investing.

To truly embrace equity, we need to focus on the resources and opportunities women need to get on that equal footing. It’s not only about what women earn in comparison to men, but also about truly understanding what women have and keep in comparison to men.

This means having more than one or two lone voices talking about this. At HL, we are very fortunate to have an army of incredible women willing to share their experiences, knowledge and insight, who are all putting their weight behind Financially Fearless with the aim of truly turning the dial and closing the gender investment and pension gap.”

Financially Fearless ambassadors on why they’re backing the initiative

Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets:
“Money is an ever-present force pulsing through every part of our interaction with the world, so you’d think that by now we’d have got the hang of it.  Instead, money is often an emotional burden. It can keep us up at night, extinguish our hopes and it can lead to depression. But it doesn’t have to be this way.   Far more men hold stocks and share ISA compared to women but when our female clients do invest, they hold their own and often pursue more responsible investment strategies.”

Sarah Coles, head of personal finance:
“Investment often seems like an elite hobby for the super-rich, so there’s a risk it doesn’t feel like it has anything to do with our lives. But saving and investing are just the tools we need to protect ourselves when times are tough, and give us the opportunity to afford the things that are really important to us – from retirement to helping children study. It can help just to take the first step. Read a guide to getting started; watch a video; ask a question. Once you start, it soon becomes clear that it doesn’t have to be as complicated as some passionate stock market devotees make it seem.”

Helen Morrissey, head of pensions research:
“We all know the saying that money doesn’t buy happiness, but the truth is that it does buy you freedom. It’s the freedom to leave the job that’s not right for you, the relationship that’s not working and to live the life that you want to live. However, all too often finances are shrouded in jargon, and this turns people off and can make them feel like goals such as home ownership or a decent pension are way out of reach.  The gender pensions gap is more of a chasm and urgent action is needed to help close it. There are no easy solutions, but step-by-step guidance can help. I’m backing Financially Fearless to cut through the jargon and help women realise their goals are not out of reach. We can then arm them with the information they need to build their financial freedom.”

Emma Wall, head of investment analysis and research:
“Having spent much of my career as the only woman around the literal and figurative table, I understand how inaccessible investing can be to many women. But it needn’t be. Taking control of our finances gives women freedom, choice and autonomy – as well as the ability to enjoy life. Financially Fearless is the first step in empowering women to improve their financial health and wealth.”

Sophie Lund-Yates, lead equity analyst:
“I am passionate about empowering more women to understand the importance of investing. As someone who doesn’t have a traditional finance background, I’m incredibly eager to spread the message that investing really is for everyone. It’s so important to have the confidence to ask questions. A lot of women I speak to often think the world of finance and investing isn’t for them. I want to shout from the rooftops that it’s for all of us, and women in particular should push themselves to take the first step.”

Clare Stinton, Workplace financial wellbeing analyst:
“Knowledge really is power, and the key to women making their money work as hard as they do. Finances don’t have to be another gender inequality in society, financial resilience is in everyone’s reach if given the right tools. Financial empowerment is more than just the luxury of being able to buy what we want; it plays a key role in contributing to our general well-being and provides the freedom for women to make life-changing choices and do more of what they love.”

Listen to Susannah, Sarah, Helen, Sophie and Emma on this week’s Switch Your Money on podcast, free to download from 9 March 2023.