It’s a question that comes in two formats. We’re going to address them both.
One, how did #GJWHF come to be? And two, how did we end up with a gender investing gap?
Let’s start at the beginning, our group’s beginnings.
#GJWHF is our passion project. We are a group of women who met through the Mentoring Programme of The Women’s Foundation - an established not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls in Hong Kong. The mentoring programme facilitates rewarding relationships between seasoned mentors and aspiring younger ones.
It was during this program that the founding members formulated the idea for, and committee behind #GJWHF, driven, and united by a want to share insights, experience and skills with a wider audience.
A way to pay learnings and skills forward. Financial pun totally intended.
Now, onto the second. The gender investment gap and how it came to be.
Owing to gender constructs through time, which have affected our access to information, education, careers and therefore capital, men have long out-earned women. That said, it’s a pay gap that is, with time, closing, as a) women have better access to pay information, and b) companies become more aware and payroll/packages become more transparent.
Investing, and finance in general, has long been an industry shrouded with jargon, late-night meetings in ‘male establishments’, and often a ‘taboo, unladylike’ topic of conversation.
Hollywood continues to depict Wall Street as a ‘boys club’, further emphasising the disconnect with women. Thankfully, this is changing, with more females taking on roles as portfolio managers, traders, and in general just taking control of their financial independence.
In most cases, women feel more comfortable ‘investing’ their hard-earned money in the deceptive safety of cash savings. This thought process is however flawed, as the interest rate paid on cash accounts can be less than the rate of inflation in some cases – meaning you’re not earning enough on that cash to even maintain its worth year-to-year. Not only are women investing less, they are also earning less, couple this with that fact that on average women live longer than men, we must stretch these fewer dollars over more years than men, leaving women, according to a report released by the National Institute on Retirement Security, 80% more likely to wind up in poverty at age 65 and older.
Money is power – just as knowledge is power. Not having the freedom to make decisions could force you to stay in a relationship, a job or a lifestyle you no longer want. It could keep you from going on a trip you want or from pursuing a passion you’ve been dreaming about.
The good news is that it is never too late to start. No matter the size of your investment, you have options. But the time is now. Put whatever money you have towards investing in yourself – taking a trusted ‘expert’ for coffee, signing up for a seminar. The Merrill Lynch/Age Wave study found that 41% of women said their greatest financial regret was not investing more of their money.
So start today – the first step is adopting the right mindset – and that can start right now! We are here to support you on this journey, no matter what stage you’re at. Keep an eye out for upcoming events in Hong Kong!