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“The female is a female by virtue of a certain lack of qualities; we should regard the female nature as afflicted with a natural defectiveness.”

“Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”

A long time has passed between the first quote, which was purported to have been said by Aristotle, and the second, uttered by Pat Robertson in the late 1990s. Fortunately, whilst there was very little reaction to the first quote, the fact that the second was greeted by almost universal condemnation is hopefully a sign that things have changed somewhat in the intervening centuries.  

Women are now active in boardrooms around the world, making multi-billion dollar decisions on a daily basis. However, the world of trading is yet to show a willingness to move in the same direction, and trading companies are missing out on a sizeable customer base as a result of failing to recognize potential growth areas.

Where are the Women?

Studies have revealed that women lack confidence when making decisions with regards to investments and retirement funds, which is hardly a surprise when one thinks of the smoke-filled men’s clubs of the Victorian era, from where women were barred. Even into the modern era, where the film The Wolf of Wall Street accurately depicted just how marginalized women were on the Wall Street trading floors of the 1980s and 1990s, women have effectively been prevented from playing a full role in trading and investing.

A recent survey found that just 22% of women rated themselves as very well-prepared for financial decision-making, compared to 37% of men, whilst another showed that fully 80% of the spouses who were not involved in retirement investment decisions were women approaching retirement age.

One solution to the issue stems from the fact that whilst men tend to invest with a performance goal in mind, women have a specific purpose which encourages them to be more conservative when it comes to investments. Kim Dellarocca, managing director at Pershing, said, “Women may be risk averse, but they may need more risk in their portfolio to help them close the gap of those moments in their lives when they were out of the workforce.”

Attracting the Risk Averse

Other studies have demonstrated that as a result of confidence levels, men trade more often than women, which can lead to losses in a portfolio. Companies should ensure that their trading advisors are trained in this area, so that advice and options can be aimed specifically at a customer base who are more risk averse, and yet likely to live longer.

Simultaneously, the age of the millennial has meant a generation who are struggling with financial issues, and yet more likely to hold a portfolio of investments than any other generation. This could well mean that the gap between the sexes narrows much further – nonetheless, firms should be cognisant of the gaps that currently exist as to best attract new female traders.