Women make better investors - here's why
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Ask a random selection of people to describe a popular image of shopping and what picture do you think comes to mind most frequently?
No prizes for guessing it’s the stereotypical vision of women hitting the high street, returning home laden with multi-coloured bags of impulse-purchased goodies having almost literally ‘shopped ‘till they dropped’.
Of course, it’s been difficult for women and men to experience the high street in all its glory this year. More likely is what some people refer to as ‘retail therapy lite’, ordering items online and having them delivered to your front door.
“Nowhere near the same,” was the unanimous opinion of a completely unscientific poll of my family’s female cohort comprising wife, daughter, sisters and various nieces, primarily, they confirmed, because shopping’s social interaction was “sadly missing”.
While many women consider retail therapy a form of treat, an inference which, frankly, puzzles most blokes, the truth is that our stereotypical image of shopping: carefree women strutting down the high street bearing an assortment of prettily-coloured bags full of stuff they hadn’t intended buying and definitely don’t need – is factually inaccurate.
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Shocked? Me too.
A survey into spending and saving habits conducted by trading platform e-Toro revealed that men actually spend 20% more on impulse purchases (£65) than women (£54).
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Moreover, before embarking on a buying trip (nearly always described as a ‘spree’ when it involves a group of women), females are much more likely to set a budget and, most importantly, stick to it. The survey also found that women invariably know how much they have in their bank account, whereas men can only hazard a guess at their current account balance; ask blokes how much they have in their ISA or deposit account and you can, apparently, expect only a blank stare in response.
Spending habits aside, e-Toro’s survey also highlighted a worrying absence of ‘wealth generation’. In other words, when it comes to financial matters, both men and women tend to be extremely conservative.
There’s an innate reluctance to invest with the intention of growing our wealth, so we end up depositing money in nothing more adventurous than a high street bank or building society and let it sit there unattended, allowing it be corroded by inflation.
It transpires that despite considering putting their money to better use, more than a quarter of adults shy away, incorrectly concluding that they don’t have enough capital to start investing in collective funds or stocks and shares. Wrong: you only need £25 a month to get started.
From an investment perspective, one of the survey’s most interesting findings is that the vast majority of women consider themselves risk-averse, while only 41% of males fall into this category, a conclusion supported by a wealth of psychological and other scientific evidence.
There is, of course, a very thin line between risk-taking and over-confidence.
When it comes to trading stocks and shares (as opposed to investing in them over the long term) men trade 45% more than women. The stocks men chose to trade are not necessarily any worse than those selected by females, but because males trade much more frequently, they lose considerably more money than their female counterparts.
In addition, people who trade online tend to do much worse than those who do so by phone (yes, it’s still possible) because their over-confidence is supplemented by the illusion of being in control. Executing a deal quickly and efficiently via a website strengthens the feeling of being in command when in fact, you’re probably just losing money more rapidly.
Perhaps such evidence explains why taking the leap from cash saving to stock market investing can be such a daunting prospect for the novice. It needn’t be: there are literally thousands of advisers and fund platforms boasting ready-made investment portfolios for every type of investor: from the risk-averse novice to the gung-ho adventurer and everything in between.
The key to investment success is not to expect gigantic returns overnight. Almost all stock market analysis confirms that the longer-term returns they produce are far superior to what is available on the high street.
Given that females are instinctively more selective and discerning, the folks more inclined to check balances and establish targets before investing (it helps that they hold the proverbial purse strings), it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that despite their innate initial caution, women tend to possess a better investment mentality.
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Heard the one about the wealth tax? It’s no joke
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