Women And Investing: Why is there still such a gender gap?
January 2016 was a time of change for me. One of those changes was making the decision to invest some of my savings in the stock market. It wasn't a decision I made lightly and I did a fair amount of research and reading around the subject before making the move. I also spoke to a lot of family and close friends about my thoughts and got a very mixed response. Most were negative and dissuading me from investing in the stock market but when I delved deeper into their reasons why, I found their answers lacking justification. I got the impression that a lot of people think that trading is not something for women. Especially one like myself, who does not have a finance or business background. Luckily I'm not particularly influenced by other people's opinions and as a pragmatist I make decisions based on facts and figures rather than opinion. I thought it was worth a shot and decided on investing only a small amount to start with, so that it would not be a serious issue if I did lose it.
During my time working as a Physiotherapist in Bermuda, I came across a lot of clients who worked in the finance industry and specifically traders. Often while treating clients you get to talking about their work and some gave interesting pieces of advice if I was to start trading. One of the most important pieces of advice I was given was to only invest in companies I know and I'm interested in. I did a lot of research into the different platforms available to use, and the pros and cons of each. As I was living in the U.K at the time, I decided to go with GetStocks as my preferred trading platform. It is an easy to use website, with plenty of information and an easy to use App for accessing your platform easily when on the go. I've also had very efficient and timely help from the company when needing assistance with certain topics. It is also a great platform for beginners who are just wanting to dip a toe into investing in stocks and shares as more of a hobby rather than a professional trader.
Recent studies show that women are lacking in confidence when it comes to investing their money, rather than just saving in a savings account or ISA (or equivalent depending on your location). I'm not really sure if women lack confidence or it's men who make women feel like they would not know what they were doing, or would not be good at it. I certainly felt this was my experience. I was confident enough to explore the idea and discuss with friends but was knocked back by some and my sex was sometimes the reason why. It's a good job I'm someone who makes my own decisions, based on my own feelings rather than the opinion of others. As women have a longer life expectancy we need to up the game in terms of making the most of our savings for retirement.
However according to a recent study by a large investing company, women earned higher returns than men in 2016. Women beat men by 0.4% with returns on their investment and were also found to invest a larger percentage of their salary into retirement accounts. Ironically, when they asked women who they thought would earn a bigger return in 2016, men or women, only 9% thought women would do better. So, basically women have been brainwashed into thinking they are less successful at investing than men. This fits with how I felt when talking about the subject with others. It was kind of that attitude 'Well you can give it a go, but you might not do so well...'. But so far it's been quite the opposite, even with 2016 being quite a volatile year with politics and other disrupting factors such as terrorist attacks etc. It was also found that women felt that they did not have enough knowledge in the area of investing and they did not understand the stock market enough to trade. Women were also found to take less risks, be more patient and make long-term investing plans rather than just trying to 'beat the market'.
There is also interesting information regarding couples (I think the study only involved heterosexual couples) and how women often don't get involved with any savings or investment decisions, they are left up to the man. Still living in that dated time when it was a 'man's job'. Maybe my generation (apparently I'm a Millennial of Generation Y) will be the change and take control of their savings and maximising their returns.
Former GetStocks CEO Roy Shaham gave his reasons for setting up the investing platform.
“I’ve always felt that the stock market and stock trading has not been for everyone,” he says. “As I see it, it is a closed club. Regardless of how clever you might be, only if you’re actually exposed to the Stock Market are you able to invest in it.
“People should be much more involved in this market because it is really intended for everyone. You don’t need to be someone that understands the market, although maybe others want to keep it that way. I want to open the market up to everybody and that’s how we got to GetStocks.com.”
GetStocks also offer a unique experience, as you are able to follow an experienced investor and the trades they make for a small monthly fee. A great way for beginners to see how others are trading. I haven't actually used this service myself but it may be something I use in the future. Through GetStocks, I've also learned about their sister brand invest.com which offers different ways of investing. Their portfolio management service is suitable for long-term savings, they build and manage investment portfolios for you. I answered their questionnaire to see what sort of portfolio the recommended for me. It was very easy to do and looking at the portfolio it was easy to understand the potential benefits of this sort of investing. You get your own portfolio recommendation here.
They also have trading platforms. Unlike GetStocks where I own actual company stocks, with invest.com you trade shares without ever owning them. This way of trading means that you can potentially profit even when company shares go down and you also increase the value of your trades for greater profit potential, this also increases risk.
My only piece of advice is to start small and only invest what you can afford to lose until you get to grips with the basics of trading. Good Luck! I would love to hear your experiences with trading and investing, so why not leave me a comment below!