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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Ladies: don't fall into the investment gap as well as the gender pay gap

Women make better investors but only when they take the plunge and get involved

Start by aiming for Dh2,000 and once you hit that target, aim for Dh5,000. Photo: Getty Images
Start by aiming for Dh2,000 and once you hit that target, aim for Dh5,000. Photo: Getty Images

It’s been quite the year for gender issues. And here’s another: the investment gap.

Men, look away now. Women are better investors when they take the plunge.

But there’s another side to the investment gap – simply explained with ‘if’ instead of ‘when’ women take the plunge. You see, fewer females invest and the effect of this compounds over their longer lifetimes.

And so, to celebrate March being Women’s History Month, and with yesterday marking International Women’s Day, I’m calling on women to take control of their wealth.

Even though we have more females graduating from universities in the UAE, many, I would venture most, women don’t have control of their financial lives. Reasons vary, including a lack of confidence, knowledge and comfort or familiarity with terms and testosterone-laden jargon, alongside cultural considerations.

Let’s change this.

It’s time to join the other movements out there this month, and add financial feminism to issues raised. Earlier this week the Oscars laid bare outrage and anger felt by many women, and not just inside Hollywood, at how females are treated. Look up the #MeToo and #Time'sUp movements to find out more.

So, in the spirit of bringing about change to enable females to live with dignity, I’m going to be focusing on women this month. Today’s message: invest like a woman.

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Get on board to enjoy the ride with the Third Age Economy baby boomers

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First off, you must want to do it.

No one will care about you, including your money-life, your life generally, as much as you do. Ergo, you must be in control of your own finances. Knowledge is power; money is power - the power to live as you deem fit.

Once you have nailed this as a core belief - and that it is your right to manage your money and know what your or your family’s portfolio is doing, with equal say in the matter - take a step back and think through what you want to achieve. Is it money for children, a holiday home, stopping work? Define it clearly. And now let’s get to work - let’s look at characteristics to celebrate and ones to stymie:

• Slaying self-doubt

Self-doubt is a double-edged thing. Women are less confident when making investment decisions and take longer to make them. This costs the female investor as her money isn’t working as hard as it could be.

But these very qualities make women investors better off. They are more risk averse - meaning they study and want to understand risk. It does not mean women don’t take risks. Couple this with more confidence in their abilities and you can see a winning formula emerging. Don’t confuse confidence with competence.

• Patience brings value

Women investors are less likely to time the market - they hold onto stocks and shares. Which means less transactions, lower fees and higher returns.

• The cost-benefit of self-help

Women are more open to learning about strategies, self-control and discipline, and then implementing and abiding by them.

• Sticking to the plan. No need to elaborate.

Do this, and you get investors who are less prone to emotional trading, and more likely to adhere to financial rules. Things like not dipping into capital invested, only using returns and not checking daily prices. Things that mean they’ll lose less than traders who succumb to irrational behaviour.

According to research from the financial services firm Dalbar, this human irrationality of timing the market, panicking, selling, buying, then selling again, means the average investor gains less than an index fund left untouched over the same duration.

Add to this that women save more to start with and you have all the ingredients to become a great investor.

Go on, invest like a woman: be calm, save more, do your research and hold on for the long term.

This is likely why women-owned and -managed hedge funds have outperformed standard indices every year since 2007, when Hedge Fund Research started tracking performance by gender, according to a 2015 KPMG report.

Most of us are not hedge fund managers though, so what does this mean for the average person? Well, the same holds; women investors outperform men by 1 per cent roughly every year, going on the findings of academics Terrance Odean & Brad Barber of the University of California. Compound that over a lifetime and you have serious differences in money.

But none of this will happen without the core belief that you are worth it, you can do it, and yes, you really are equal.

And listen up: Warren Buffet says he invests like a girl. Up your game by getting in the game. Invest like a woman.

Nima Abu Wardeh is a broadcast journalist, columnist and blogger. Share her journey on finding-nima.com