How will technology influence women’s wealth in the years ahead?

I participated in a dynamic panel discussion on VoiceAmerica Business Channel: Technology Revolution Radio, hosted by Bonnie D. Graham on 20 July, that addressed this very question. My fellow panelists were three women leaders who are all passionate about the future of women’s wealth and technology: April Rudin, founder and president of The Rudin Group, which designs bespoke marketing campaigns for some of the world’s leading wealth-management firms, fintechs, and family offices; Eva Grønbjerg Christensen, founder and CEO of the tech start-up Sustainify, which provides sustainability data to investors; and Iris ten Teije, co-founder of Koia, a platform on which anyone can buy, sell, and trade fractions of such iconic assets as watches, whisky, and Pokémon cards using non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Our conversation identified and explored three key themes. What follows are lightly edited excerpts from our discussion, reproduced with Graham’s permission.

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1. The Shift from a Male-Centric to a Female-Centric Investing Environment

According to the Financial Times, “Globally, the investable assets of wealthy individuals is expected to double in almost every part of the world by 2030.” And we know that wealth transfer may be the single most important demographic trend around finance and investing in history. Critically, the bulk of this wealth transfer is going to women.

April Rudin: Women surpass men, standing strong at 51% of the population. Widows and other segments of women will rise as the main contact for firms and funds seeking to onboard new assets. Women continue to dominate the control of family private wealth as their husbands’ life expectancies are shorter and financial advisers are unfamiliar with how to serve and market to this growing segment. Further, women will continue their dominance in creating wealth themselves through their own entrepreneurial ventures, other investments, etc. And financial services firms need to know how to serve and appeal to women whose wants/needs are different along with their success measures.

Barbara Stewart, CFA: Because women live longer, often women, older women, are surviving and controlling the investment assets. They may find and work with an investment adviser directly, but sometimes they won’t. And in that case, it seems likely that managing those senior assets will fall to the children of that couple. And most of the time that will mean the daughters. I wrote about this phenomenon in my Enterprising Investor post “Daughters: The Rising Wealth Influencers“: “’Women now outpace men in hours spent caregiving for their aging parents and their in-laws: Women provide nearly two-thirds of elder care, and daughters are 28 percent more likely to care for a parent than sons. . . . Investing will become a larger and larger part of elder care. Daughter Care is not only a real thing; it is a growing thing. Daughters will be responsible for managing investment portfolios.”

Iris ten Teije: Changing money culture will cause more women to invest. The culture around talking about money is changing rapidly. With finfluencers and new platforms coming up, it’s becoming increasingly normal to discuss salaries and investments. This increased level of transparency is giving everyone, but especially women, the confidence they need to get started investing, to have the courage to ask for a raise, etc.

Eva Grønbjerg Christensen: We are seeing a power shift due to a money shift and a wealth shift. With the increase in women’s knowledge about finance, we’ll also see an increase in power. Knowledge is power, and when we watch the wealth grow among women, we’ll see growth in financial products and solutions designed for women. Also, women will pave the way for other minority investors. Technology products are increasing opportunities to share and obtain knowledge, providing access to financial products, and enabling a shift in power and opening doors.

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2. Technological Tools Are Propelling More Equal Wealth Distribution

From the 2022 Rich Thinking Quantitative Survey, an amazing 64% of 18-to-29-year-old US women either already invest or plan to start within the year. That’s higher than any other age group. Of the women in this demographic who are already investors, 96% use online platforms. 

Stewart: New female-friendly concepts and investing spaces have emerged. Women — and their daughters — can visit financial education sites, platforms, and communities where they can communicate, benefit from other people’s knowledge, share information, and be inspired. This space will continue to evolve at an exponential rate.

ten Teije: Investing based on values, interest, and passion will grow. Thanks to technology tools, it’s easier than ever to invest in what you’re passionate about or care about, be they collectibles, thematic ETFs focused on, for example, climate or women-led companies, or start-ups. This positive trend will get more women engaged in the world of investing.

Grønbjerg Christensen: Sustainable investing will be one way we narrow the gender wealth gap. Currently, we see that sustainable investing is going from niche to mainstream — pushed by regulations, climate awareness, social and equality issues, and many new investors in the market. Because many of these new investors are female or Gen Z and care about more than just profits, we’ll see an increase in investments based on personal values and holistic thinking. Companies and investments are judged on their ability to weather different crises, whether environmental, social, or financial. Here, different technical tools will help propel the change to more equal wealth distribution.

This has already started as bottom-up, where online communities and different technology platforms and tools make it easier for underrepresented investors to share knowledge and experiences and access the market without the traditional gatekeepers and financial “experts.”

Rudin: Social media will continue to be a “go-to place” for NextGeners for financial literacy information. The NextGeners continue to value their friend’s and community’s knowledge versus that of authority figures like parents and banks. According to the Viacom Disruption Index from 2013, 71% would rather go to the dentist than trust what banks are telling them. And this report was just the tipping point. Since then, there has been a steady move to communities for investing like Reddit and eToro that allow you to compare your results with those of others.

ten Teije: Going forward, I believe social investing is likely to advance beyond the online discussion of trading ideas. New technologies are opening up opportunities currently not yet available to retail investors in the same way that past investment clubs allowed people to pool money to buy stocks. The space will keep developing rapidly over the next few years, with investors group-bidding on all types of physical and digital items. Longer term, I envision that even the most expensive assets, such as large-scale infrastructure projects, will likely be on the table — think solar farms and even airports.

There is still a lot of work to be done to enable this, especially on the legal front, but with the right mix of centralized and decentralized infrastructure and increasing possibilities for the real world to interact with blockchain technology, social investing looks set to become more prominent over time. Increasingly, high-value assets are up for grabs by groups of like-minded individuals often spread around the world and brought together by a common vision, objective, or world view.

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3. Female Entrepreneurs and Leaders Are Transforming the Tech Industry

Stewart: Women are starting three quarters of new businesses, as I said in “The Future Is Female: COVID-19 Fuels a Surge in Women Entrepreneurs“: “The start-ups of today are the giant companies of the future. There have been multiple obstacles to female-founded companies over time — lack of funding and systemic sexism, among them — and the pipeline problem has been a particular impediment. Not all start-ups turn into unicorns, or private companies worth more than US$1 billion. But if men start up twice as many companies as women, which has historically been the case, even in 2019/2020, then all else being equal, there will be twice as many male-founded unicorns as female-founded ones. Therefore, a post-pandemic surge in women-led start-ups is a leading indicator of the future.”

Start-ups by women will grow as more successful examples of female-led start-ups that grow and prosper become available and funders follow previous successes. Two examples are Hello Heart, whose CEO is Maayan Gonnen-Cohen, and IRP Systems, whose CEO is Moran Price.

In other good news, a compelling Deloitte report from April 2022 says that “In North America, the TMT [technology, media, and telecom] industry now has one of the highest percentages of women on boards (second only to the consumer industry): 25% of board seats are held by women, up from 17.4% in 2018 — helped by board diversity legislation in states with a high proportion of TMT companies, such as California and Washington.”

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Rudin: Historically — think Mad Men — the advertising and marketing industries were male dominated and about as sexist as you’d expect. In good news, the gender balance in traditional advertising and marketing has become more even, but the bad news is that adtech and MarTech were the new “boys’ clubs” over the last decade, with all the bro culture that goes along with that. The more recent positive trend is that technology in general is seeing rising percentages of female workers, technical female workers, and (especially) female leaders. The numbers are still too low — only about a quarter of leaders are women — but that is up almost 20% in just three years, from 2019 to 2022.

I predict three things:

  1. The percentage of women leaders in tech will continue to grow and be over 30% by 2025.
  2. This will happen in adtech and MarTech too.
  3. It will make the space less sexist and biased.

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All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.

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