Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 25th 2017 Contents Many men and women think men
are the better investors. They're
After checking how eight
million of its customers did
during 2016, Fidelity Invest-
ments found that women did better than men by an
average of 0.4 percentage points.
The difference in performance is small, and it's al-
ways dangerous to make big generalisations out of
small slices of data. But it slots in with other research
that suggests women tend to take a longer-term view
of investing. They are more likely to buy and hold their
investments, and they take fewer risks, for example.
Researchers are generally loathe to declare one gen-
der as absolutely better than the other in investing,
and other studies have shown men doing slightly bet-
ter than women over other periods of time, but the
figures underscore that women at least shouldn't be
too pessimistic about their own abilities. That would
be a dangerous thing if it discourages them from in-
vesting for retirement or other goals.
"When women actually take the step of investing,
they do a good job," says Kathleen Murphy, president
of personal investing at Fidelity. "It doesn't surprise
us, but I think it will surprise them. The issue is: How
do we get women to have the confidence in themselves
to take care of something that is fundamental to their
To check confidence levels, Fidelity asked pollsters
to survey about 1,000 investors early this year and
ask whether they thought men or women had the
better returns in 2016.
Men and women answered roughly the same way.
Nearly half of each group thought there would be
no difference (49 per cent of men and 47 per cent
But among those who guessed that one gender
would come out on top, the vast majority said it would
be men. Only nine per cent of women (and nine per
cent of men) said they thought women earned higher
returns in 2016.
One of the main reasons for the lack of confidence
among women may be the financial services indus-
try itself. It's one that was created by and, for a long
time, run for men. So much so that Sallie Krawcheck,
a Wall Street veteran who earlier ran Merrill Lynch
and Smith Barney, cited that when she co-founded
Ellevest, an online investment adviser that says it
helps customers "invest like a woman."
The disparities run up and down Wall Street. Less
than 10 per cent of all US fund managers are women,
and the percentage has been on a slow decline since
2008, according to a recent study by Morningstar.
Managers attribute much of that to the small per-
centage of women throughout the financial industry.
When relatively few analysts are women, that leaves
few potential fund managers.
To better engage with female customers, Fidelity
now writes all its promotional materials with an im-
aginary, 38-year-old target customer in mind. She's
a woman, and her name is Susie.
"Everyone in the company knows Susie and says
we need to walk in Susie's high heels," Murphy says.
"Whether it's financial planning or saving for retire-
ment or retirement income, we pause and ask if this
will meet Susie's standards."
Financial companies certainly have an incentive
to engage more with women. Divorce rates are rising
for older Americans---it's roughly doubled since the
1990s for those aged 50 and above---which means more
women are becoming a sole financial decision maker.
And women continue to have longer life expectancies
than men. In blunt market terms, that makes them a
bigger pool of potential customers.
Fidelity says it has already seen improvements in
recent years following its increased outreach to fe-
male customers, with more getting their portfolios
in better balance.
That means they've got an appropriate mix of stocks
and bonds for their age, rather than being in all cash
at a young age or in all stocks during retirement. But
there's still more room for improvement.
"I remember being at an AARP event doing one
of these speeches, and I was telling them that I was
flying from to DC to New York that night to meet with
a group of 1,000 millennials," Murphy says.
"So I asked them, 'What advice should I give millen-
nials, which are your daughters and granddaughters.'
And they said, 'Tell them to break the cycle. Don't let
this happen to them, too, not being engaged enough.
Take control of your future.'"
AP business writer, STAN CHOE
BG22 | INTERNATIONAL
BUSINESS GUARDIAN guardian.co.tt MAY 25 • 2017
Many women think men are
the better investors; they're not
president of Fidelity
Personal Investing, a unit
of Fidelity Investments.
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