In the thirty years since the fabulous movie Working Girl hit our screens, much has changed for women’s gender parity in the workplace and outside. Movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp have exposed the magnitude of the sexual violence faced by women, while campaigns such as #MeTooPay have uncovered discrepancies in salaries that have fueled the fight for pay equality. Yet there is one area where the gender gap remains wide open, and the taboo surrounding it lingers unchallenged: the financial health and wellbeing of women.
Money management, financial ambitions and investing remain a sore subject among women. According to a report by Merrill Lynch Bank of America, 61% of women would rather talk about their own death than about money. For many people, women especially, money is filled with emotional meaning. The presence of money can mean opportunity, security, status, acceptance and power. Its absence can mean the opposite. It also has emotional value: we see money as the means to protect our family and our children, to provide them with a future. No wonder it is such a loaded topic that we almost feel embarrassed to talk about it.
However, the advent of financial technology and innovations in the field of personal finance have created unprecedented opportunities for women to learn about different products, discuss with like-minded women, and start investing in financial products that work for them. For example, Fintech-enabled solutions like peer-to-peer property lending have unleashed new opportunities to help change the narrative around investing and advance women’s financial health, since these solutions address four things women want from financial services: more confidence, added convenience, better communication, and greater collaboration.
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Peer-to-peer property lending, the practice of lending money to experienced property developers through online services that match lenders directly with borrowers, allows investors browse through housing projects and invest any amount they feel comfortable with. One female investor discussed her own experience investing in peer-to-peer property lending, mentioning that what interested her personally about this product was how easy and intuitive it was to invest; the fact that it was very transparent, and how she felt comfortable and safe investing. Of course, this only reflects this investor’s views, and every investor would need to carry out their own research and due diligence before deciding to dip their toes with an investment product. This particular investor also mentioned that the fact that she was able to invest in affordable housing, a cause close to her heart, was particularly relevant to her.
This is crucial because such Fintech-enabled solutions are helping tackle factors traditionally suggested as reasons holding women back from investing: lack of confidence and expertise, as well as overly technical language that fails to address women’s requirements. According to a survey by YouGov , over half of women have never held an investment product, with lack of confidence being the main reason, and while 45% of men would feel confident investing some of their money, the figure among women is only 28%. Fintech solutions such as peer-to-peer property lending can allow women to see where their money is being invested and what it helps create. But there are many other examples of how Fintech-powered solutions have the potential to be used as female empowerment tools, to help address long-running gender gaps and redress inequalities in the fields of investing, wealth management and financial planning.