What is Stopping Women From Taking Charge of their Financial Future?
While financial management has traditionally been the responsibility of men, recent data suggests this trend is quickly changing, driven in part by the adoption of mobile finance services by women. This is a step in the right direction, but there is a long way to go before women fully take control of their financial future. By playing a more active role in financial decision-making, women will undoubtedly grow in confidence and gain freedom in how they live their lives.
The Current Situation
A report released by private bank UBS on International Women’s Day in March 2019 revealed that a majority of women do not engage in the most important aspects of their financial well-being, such as investing, insurance and other long-term planning. While more than 80 per cent of the women surveyed globally are highly involved in their short-term finances, they surprisingly neglect the bigger picture and therefore their future.
Out of the 3,700 married, widowed and divorced women surveyed across nine markets across Asia, Europe, North & South America, 76 per cent cited retirement planning as highly important. Yet, 58 per cent opt out of long-term financial planning altogether, having left this entirely up to their spouses. Out of all markets included in the study, Singapore fared the worst in terms of women’s involvement in long-term finances, with a whopping 72 per cent deferring it to their spouses.
Why do women opt out of managing finances?
Women clearly understand the importance of long-term financial planning, so what is stopping them from taking control? The women who opt out cite many reasons for doing so, including a lack of interest and having more urgent responsibilities to tend to. However, the most popular reason – which 82 per cent of respondents gave – is that they think their spouses know more about long-term finances, and so are better equipped to handle this.
The findings show that overall women lack the confidence and initiative needed to engage with long-term financial decision-making. While the issue of lacking knowledge or understanding of the topic is something that only women can ultimately fix through seeking out information and learning, there are certainly steps that can be taken to boost their confidence and help educate them on the matter. Women should not, and need not be scared of finances; and society as a whole needs to encourage them to play a more active role.
What opportunities are there?
There are already online platforms that seek to empower and educate women to take control of their finances. The New Savvy, Asia’s leading financial, investments and career platform for women, provides women with financial advice on everything from budgeting and investing to insurance and retirement. As financial information can be tedious and complex, the New Savvy simplifies the process by providing dedicated insights that are concise and easy to understand.
Data from the Liftoff 2019 Mobile Finance Apps’ report shows that women are engaging more with finance apps, the rates of which are skyrocketing to 19.6per cent from just 13.9per cent in the previous year. With the soaring smartphone penetration rates across Asia, mobile apps are also providing a great opportunity for women to take control of their financial lives.
Today, mobile finance apps are mainly focused on short-term finances such as budgeting, payments, and banking. There is certainly an opportunity present for more innovation in the sphere of mobile apps for long-term financial planning and education. The UBS report reveals that 93 per cent of women who participate equally with their spouses in financial decisions agree that fewer mistakes are made when both of them are involved. It is clear that women’s increased involvement in finances will not only benefit their own lives, but also provide a different perspective, resulting in smarter decision-making overall.