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How Can Women Stop Lagging Men in Investing?

When it comes to investing, studies show that women are far less confident than men. Women tend to focus on short-term savings only rather than building wealth through investing. Women leaders at Sanlam Investments – an asset manager firmly committed to democratising investing to foster greater inclusivity – feel passionate about changing this.


This Women’s Month, four women from Sanlam Investments share their views on how we can galvanise more women to invest and grow wealth.

Chantelle Pretorius, Credit Portfolio Manager, Sanlam Investments

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Would you say that women have very different attitudes toward money than men?

Absolutely. On average, women are more risk-averse than men. Generally, women focus on ‘wealth-preservation’, rather than ‘wealth-accumulation’. While women might save a larger percentage of their salary than men, their investments tend to be in lower-risk assets such as cash. Understanding this disparity and engaging with women on the benefits of a well-diversified investment portfolio is critical in ensuring that women are well-prepared for retirement.

In a future world where women are confidently investing and growing wealth, what would the knock-on effect be on the rest of their lives, careers and society at large?

Women prefer to align their investments with their personal values. Some studies have found that investing in ways that benefit the planet and have a positive effect on society are more important to women than absolute returns. Issues such as education, healthcare and employee welfare are important considerations for women when deciding where to invest. The concept of ‘responsible investing’ should increase the percentage of female investors, which in turn will mean that women will have a larger say on corporate behaviour and, ultimately, drive environmental and societal change.

Manka Sebastian, Junior Portfolio Manager, Sanlam Properties

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Would you say that women have very different attitudes toward money than men?

Definitely. The difference lies in the intent. For women it goes beyond maximising returns. In my experience, women’s attitudes towards money are that of creating generational security. As we have grown into ‘owning our space’ in the world of investments, the one question I often get asked is, “How should I be investing my money now so that I am able to provide for my family and set them up for their next stage in life?”

In a future world where women are confidently investing and growing wealth, what would the knock-on effect be on the rest of their lives, careers and society at large?

The knock-on effect I see is the maximisation of resilient financial and social returns. How many stories have you heard of mothers, aunts and sisters feeding families with the modern version of two fish and five loaves? If you want a rand to go further, give it to a woman! As our intellect and voices grow confidently louder in the investment world, we will direct investment conversations and careers towards ideas that are resilient and impactful.

What are easy, non-intimidating ways for women to move into the investment space?

Start with your three closest friends. The same way we have book and wine clubs, parent forums, etc., we should also have investment clubs. Invite a qualified Chartered Financial Planner (CFP) to kick you off. Agree that once every month each one of you will bring one company, unit trust or ETF to the club that would be a great investment. With investment platforms such as EasyEquities, EasyProperties and Satrix, investing has become so easy and much less intimidating. It is the equivalent of the modern day stokvel.

How can women become investment champions for others?

Purposefully and intentionally look for investment vehicles that are led by women and managed by women. In your circles, encourage each other to explore financial options such as EasyEquities and Satrix.

Lilian Lerm, Portfolio Manager: Absolute Return and Living Annuities, Sanlam Investments

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In a future world where women are confidently investing and growing wealth, what would the knock-on effect be on the rest of their lives, careers and society at large?

Women are the glue that keeps society together. We have a far-reaching impact on our communities and, as such, we are able to drive incredible change that can have a ripple effect throughout our country and the world. As natural (and often primary) caregivers, women tend to invest their time and money in their families, making sure they provide for everyone’s needs. The reality, however, is that a gender pay gap still exists, which puts women at a disadvantage when it comes to having extra money to save.

Women also tend to not seek financial advice independently from their partners, or at all. When all of these factors are taken into account, women tend not to have as much savings invested, and therefore do not have the financial independence that they otherwise would enjoy. It is, therefore, incredibly important that girls are educated in finance topics, such as budgeting and investing, from a very young age, and we need to continue to fight for the elimination of the gender pay gap.

If women are empowered to take control of their own financial futures through investing from a young age, they will be able to invest in their own prosperity and also pay this forward to future generations. If we can accomplish this, it will go a long way to reducing education inequality, which in turn will further our goals of equal opportunity for everyone in our country.

Wandile Mhlanga, Team Leader: SCI Service Team, Sanlam Collective Investments

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Would you say that women have very different attitudes toward money than men?

Women are nurturers by nature and, as such, their attitudes towards money often revolve around providing security and comfort for themselves and loved ones. This also results in women being more mindful of their money-spending habits. There is a quote by Erik S Gray which states that “Whatever you give a woman, she will make it greater. If you give her a house, she'll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she'll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she'll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her”.

What are easy, non-intimidating ways for women to move into the investment space?

Women need to “Lean In”. This title comes from a book by Sheryl Sandberg where she speaks about the different ways women can easily occupy spaces in the world. The book emphasises being more confident and knowing what you want. As women, we need to know our worth and once we know it, it will feel less intimidating to move into the investment space. Women need to read more about investing and understanding the industry and what it entails. We need to look for opportunities to boost our confidence and find support structures to encourage us to go for it.

How can women become investment champions for others?

We need to support each other and uplift each other. Women who speak less in group discussions are seen as having less influence. Women should set an example by making sure that our ideas are heard. In the boardroom, instead of sitting at the end of the table and edge of the room – away from positions that convey status – rather sit front-and-centre and be at the heart of the discussions. We also need to encourage each other to aim high and take risks. As women, we need to celebrate each other and give each other direct feedback which will be helpful and can help us learn and grow.

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