Are women of high net worth still being under-valued and under-serviced by the banking system? Tamara Gillan explores whether it’s time to change the banking system.
As women of high net worth start to overtake their male counterparts, they are still being under-valued and under-serviced by the banking community. Women’s wealth is the world’s biggest emerging market, yet private banking steeped in male corporate tradition and old boys’ networks is failing this crucial client group.
Women on a mission, and a network of inspiring female leaders from the top wealth asset managers and private banks, are about to change that.
Why one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to banking
Women’s financial strength has been fueled by powerful demographic, economic and technological changes. They comprise 46% of the 376,000 millionaires in the UK and it is estimated that by 2025 they will own more than 60% of the UK’s personal wealth.
They are the entrepreneurs that are starting businesses at more than twice the rate of men.
They are self-made women (60% of high net worth women have earned their own fortunes).
They are corporate high-flyers, widows, divorcees, mothers, daughters.
Just like men, they come in all forms. But here is the catch. They are not ‘just like men’. Something the finance industry seems to have forgotten.
The banking industry is not responding fast enough to this change. In short, it doesn’t ‘get’women.
Unlike other sectors, finance hasn’t woken up to the fact that customer’s differences need to be celebrated. One size certainly doesn’t ‘fit all’. Women’s goals for their wealth and their approach to risk and investment is not always going to be the same as a man’s.
Despite this, there is little or no noticeable difference in marketing, communications, customer relationships or products aimed at women.
Would a gender-balanced approach really have an impact?
YES. Recent research released by Kantar found that brands are missing out on billions of pounds, £774bn to be exact, by failing to take a gender-balanced approach to marketing, and create strategies that support, rather than undermine, female consumers.
Brands which promoted gender-balanced marketing were found to be worth significantly more than their rivals. The ‘What Women Want’ study also revealed that the brand value of brands skewed towards men is £3.1bn, compared to a value of £4.1bn for brands that are either ‘balanced’ or skewed towards women. Kantar suggest the reason for this gap is because brands are failing to “appreciate the importance self-esteem plays in female empowerment and how this affects how women feel about brands”.
I would predict that the gap could be even larger in the high net worth banking and finance industry, which is currently populated by brands and corporations almost exclusively skewed towards men. Three quarters of women say financial services is the industry they’re most disappointed with, and 55% think their wealth managers could do a better job of meeting female needs.
This is set to change. At a time when customer experience and customer service are paramount to success, if not survival, for brands operating in our rapidly evolving world, to allow this to continue is not a viable option.
Being the change we want to see
A new network of women financiers is championing the transformation of the current model for female clients, helping women be more understood, accepted and catered for by the Wealth Management and Private Banking industry.
Banks that have been involved in the initiative to date include individuals from J.P. Morgan, Cazenove Capital, Investec, Barclays, Citi, Julius Baer, AXA and UBS. I have worked alongside Lauren von Stackelberg (nee Garey), a change agent who is responsible for the female client strategy at J.P. Morgan, and Kate Percival, CEO of Grace Belgravia, to build a network and campaign to address the shortcomings of this sector to serve the women working and thriving within it.
I believe that our work will change perceptions of the private banking industry to one that is more gender balanced and diverse. I hope to create a positive shift to improve the client experience for female investors by practically helping and supporting those within the banking community to understand and respond to the needs of women.
Banking is notorious for competition, not collaboration. We need to change that trend and the only way we can succeed in doing that is by bringing together the UK’s most successful financial firms to tackle the challenge in partnership, to move the industry forward together.
Like all modern industries, the finance and banking sector must become gender balanced and fit for purpose. Our work is powered by data and driven by experience with the customer firmly at the heart, which is exactly where she deserves to be.
We’ll be creating and running research, events, podcasts, education workshops and talks to reach and empower as many women as we can, to shine a positive spotlight on the banking industry that will better represent the individual network members and their clients.
To remain relevant today, inclusivity is essential. It is something the banking world has been slow to react to, but not for much longer.
This is the start of a globally responsible mission to help the finance industry recognise, empower and respond to the needs of high-net-worth women.
This article originally appeared in The Drum Network Finance Supplement. For more information on how to get involved, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Tamara Gillan, founder and CEO, Cherry London