Women know how to make money

A new study from Barclays Wealth shows that business success is increasing the wealth of women around the globe. Inheritance and marriage are no longer lead sources of income.
As if men needed another reason to woo women: hereÆs one. Barclays Wealth issued a report this week stating that the affluence and influence of women is growing, and more important, itÆs increasingly fuelled by their own individual enterprises.

YouÆre a dinosaur if you think that inheritance and marriage are the lead sources of female wealth.

Barclays Wealth teamed up with the Economist Intelligence Unit for a global survey of 600 wealthy individuals (determined as people with investable assets in excess of $200,000). They found that the vast majority of women in Asia are generating their wealth independently, whether it is from earnings and business ownership (80.5% collectively) or from personal investments (34.1%). This compares to marriage (24.4%), divorce (2.4%) and inheritance (26.8%), which the research shows are now less important sources of wealth.

Compared to any other global regions, the wealth generated by female entrepreneurship is highest in Asia û 26% cite income from a business as their main source of wealth.

And wealthy women are gradually closing the gap between the wealth held by male and female millionaires. In 1998, the average male millionaire in the UK was worth $5.42 million, while the average female millionaire owned just $2.56 million, according to the study. By 2006, the average female millionaire was worth $3.94 million compared to $5.92 million for men.

But women are not just closing the gap in the super wealthy category. As the study notes: ôIn Southeast Asia, a region that has in recent years enjoyed impressive economic growth, women hold two-thirds of jobs in the export industry. Perhaps more strikingly of all, a recent report in The Economist suggested that, over the past decade, the increased employment of women in developed countries has contributed much more to global growth than Chinaö.

Not surprisingly, the study points out, this has refocused a myriad of businessesÆ attention on women: on how to advertise to them, how to woo them (as wealth clients, for example) and how to incorporate them into a business.

Barclays Wealth of course focused, in part, on investment decisions that may differ based on gender. The study found that the most important investment choice for Asian women is individual stocks and shares with 65.9% of women having invested in them in the past three years, followed by bonds at 31.7%. Asian women show a low propensity to invest in the riskier end of the financial spectrum, with only 4.9% having chosen to invest in private equity and only 2.4% in derivatives.

When asked how they would choose to spend a cash windfall of 200,000 the majority of Asian women selected property as their preferred investment (19.5%) while 14.6% said they would add it to their pension.

ôWomen are purpose-driven in their investment pursuits whereas men tend to look for income and growth,ö says Didier von Daeniken, chief executive, Asia Pacific, Barclays Wealth. ôWe have noticed that women alter their approach as they reach their goal and will often act to protect what it is they have built up. But equally, when women are n the mindset that æthis is for investment and savingsÆ they are very diligent and plan well.ö

Despite their business success, confidence levels towards personal finance were actually lowest amongst women in Asia û many said they were not at all confident about investing in hedge funds (34.1%), private equity and venture capital (29.3%) or the bond and debt market (20%).

The upside: as a result of their wealth, women in Asia are more likely than other international regions to enjoy their leisure time (75.6%) and time with their families 64.1%) û compared to half of North American women claiming the same.

ôThese findings serve to reiterate that it is crucial that the wealth management industry understands that the motivations and needs of women have, and will continue to change. Financial institutions need to appreciate that the investment approach of men and women can be different, and that a one-size-fits-all approach to managing this increasingly influential audience may not work,ö concludes von Daeniken.
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