Women aren’t investing at the same rate as men. Here’s why it matters—and how the gap can be closed
Women don’t invest in the market at the same rate as men, and the reasons for this are more nuanced than lower earnings power.
Experts point to factors such as how women are perceived and treated by the investment community, among other hurdles for this gender investment gap.
The investing disparity is stark: If women invested at the same rate as men, there would be at least an additional $3.22 trillion in assets under management from private individuals, a report from BNY Mellon Investment Management found. The firm’s global survey, fielded in 2021, included 8,000 men and women across 16 markets. BNY Mellon also interviewed 100 global asset managers with $60 trillion in assets under management.
When it comes to saving for retirement, American women are less likely to invest in an employer-sponsored plan or a brokerage account, according to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. The 22nd annual survey of workers, released in November 2022, was conducted within the U.S. by the Harris Poll between Oct. 28 and Dec. 10, 2021, among a nationally representative sample of 5,493 workers.
The result is that women, who on average live longer than men, are less likely to be prepared to retire when they want. Some 53% of women feel financially comfortable about retiring at their target date, compared with 66% of men, a survey from BMO found. The survey, conducted by Ipsos from Jan. 16 to Feb. 12, polled a sample of 3,401 U.S. adults.
Hurdles to overcome
Women face a number of barriers when it comes to investing. One is that the investment industry isn’t engaging women to the same degree as men, BNY Mellon’s research found.
According to the global survey, 1 in 10 women feel they don’t fully understand investing and only about 28% feel confident about investing some of their money. In the U.S., some 41% of women feel confident.
Yet 86% of asset managers surveyed said they are targeting a male customer, the survey found.
In fact, most U.S. financial advisors are male — just 35% were women in 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Then there is the high hurdle of the disposable income women think they need to have before they invest. On average, women around the world believe they need $4,092 a month before they would consider investing any of it, BNY Mellon found. In the U.S., women, on average, think they need over $6,000 a month — or just over $72,000 per year.
On top of that, more than a quarter of the women surveyed described their financial health as poor or very poor, said Stephanie Pierce, CEO of Dreyfus, Mellon & Exchange-Traded Funds at BNY Mellon Investment Management.
“If women don’t think they have great financial health and they have this very high [disposable income] hurdle, that’s a barrier that is really going to stop people from entering the financial markets,” she said.
Lastly, 45% of the women surveyed by BNY Mellon said investing money in the stock market, through an individual security or a fund, is too risky.
The income divide
However, a Morningstar survey found the gender investing gap simply comes down to the fact that women statistically earn less money than men. The firm surveyed 907 U.S. residents, including 437 females, last year.
“Once you control for income, many of those differences between men and women and investing behaviors kind of disappear. So they either become no longer statistically significant, or they’re not practically significant,” explained Samantha Lamas, a behavioral researcher at Morningstar.
In other words, when researchers compared the investment behaviors of men and women by income bracket, they found they saved and invested similarly.
“The problem was that men just made up a lot of that higher income level bracket,” Lamas said.
In fact, the gender pay gap hasn’t moved much in the past 20 years. Women, on average, earned 82 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2022, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of median hourly earnings of both full- and part-time workers. In 2002, women made 80% of what men earned.
Yet, financial advisors still perceive women differently than men, Lamas said.
“Female investors have in the past reported that advisors assume that they have a low risk tolerance and are interested in sustainable funds, as soon as they walk in the door,” she said. “That’s a generalization that I think oversimplifies the situation. The truth is, it’s much more nuanced.”
For instance, Morningstar has found that interest in ESG — or environmental, social and corporate governance — investing was pretty widespread, with gender and age not really a factor.
However, BNY Mellon’s global survey found more than half of women would invest, or invest more, if the impact of their investment aligned with their personal values. They would also invest if the investment fund had a clear goal or purpose for good.
The firm calculated that of the $3.22 trillion that would enter the market if women invested at the same rate as men, $1.87 trillion would flow into impact investments benefiting people and the environment.
Closing the gap
To get more women investing, a more inclusive financial community needs to be built, experts said.”We need more women financial advisors. That is one of the easiest ways to close the gap,” said Beata Kirr, co-head of investment strategies at Bernstein Private Wealth Management and host of the firm’s “Women & Wealth” podcast.
In fact, nearly three-quarters of the asset managers in BNY Mellon’s global survey said they believe the investment industry would be able to attract more women investors if the industry had more female fund managers.
Male advisors also need to understand that their own income and economic success can be hurt if they effectively ignore women, Kirr said. More women are coming into wealth, whether it is through founding businesses, climbing the corporate ladder or an inheritance, she noted.
“One fact is very clear. Women outlive men,” Kirr said. The average life expectancy for women is 79 years, compared with 72 years for men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In fact, by 2030, women are expected to control much of the $30 trillion in financial assets that baby boomers possess, according to McKinsey & Company. The firm’s 2020 report said it is “a potential wealth transfer of such magnitude that it approaches the annual GDP of the United States.”
Then there is the financial jargon that professionals tend to use. Some 31% of female consumers in the BNY Mellon survey said that overly complicated language, which can be unclear or confusing, dissuades them from investing or investing more than they currently do.
“You see language like asymmetrical risk/reward, risk-adjusted returns, alpha generation, right? Relative outperformance, tracking error, dispersion, downside protection. We use these words to describe really simple things in very complex ways,” Pierce said. “It’s not helpful, and it can put off people that don’t understand it, women included.”
The investment community should also be providing more opportunities that interest women, she added, pointing to the BNY Mellon global survey’s findings that more than half of the women are interested in impact investing.
“We do believe that a part of the call to action is to deliver solutions that meet the need for women who want to have a financial return and social impact with our money, or a socially responsible investment,” Pierce said.
To that end, BNY Mellon recently filed to launch the BNY Mellon Women’s Empowerment ETF, which will invest in companies that demonstrate gender equitable practices and/or offer products that support women’s day-to-day needs.
For Morningstar’s Lamas, the solution to eliminating the gender investing disparity is to close the gender pay gap.
“That means that we need these structural changes. To make an impact here, we need to get women to get paid more,” she said.
Exclusive-Credit Suisse tells staff plans for investment banking to be informed later -memo – Yahoo Canada Finance
By Engen Tham and Julie Zhu
SHANGHAI/HONG KONG (Reuters) -Credit Suisse told staff its wealth assets are operationally separate from UBS for now, but once they merged clients might want to consider moving some assets to another bank if concentration was a concern, according to an internal memo.
The memo, dated Sunday and seen by Reuters, gave talking points to Credit Suisse staff for client conversations after a historic Swiss-backed acquisition of the troubled bank by UBS Group.
“For now, assets are still legally separated. Once that changes, you (clients) may of course want to consider moving some of your assets to another bank if concentration is a concern,” the memo said.
That response was suggested to Credit Suisse staff if they were asked by clients what they should do if they were also a UBS client and wanted to avoid too much asset concentration, which can be a concern for wealthy customers.
In a package orchestrated by Swiss regulators on Sunday, UBS will pay 3 billion Swiss francs ($3.23 billion) for 167-year-old Credit Suisse and assume up to $5.4 billion in losses.
UBS will become the undisputed global leader in managing money for the wealthy through the takeover of its main rival, triggering some concerns about concentration risks for clients.
Credit Suisse also told staff to inform clients that plans for its investment banking business will be communicated in due course as details of its acquisition by UBS were still being worked out, according to the memo.
“We do not expect there to be any disruption to client services. We are fully focused on ensuring a smooth transition and seamless experience for our valued clients and customers,” a Credit Suisse spokesperson said.
Credit Suisse is also going ahead with its annual Asia Investment Conference in Hong Kong, starting on Tuesday, the spokesperson said, adding the event, however, would now be closed to media.
In a separate memo on Sunday, the bank told employees that its day-to-day operations were unaffected after it agreed to the UBS takeover.
“Our branches and our global offices will remain open, and all colleagues are expected to and should continue to come to work,” Credit Suisse said in the memo sent globally and seen by Reuters.
Reuters reported on Friday, citing sources, that a number of major banks including Societe Generale SA and Deutsche Bank AG were restricting new trades involving Credit Suisse or its securities.
Regarding counterparties having stopped business with Credit Suisse, the bank said in the client talking points memo that it believed the transaction “will help to restore confidence to the financial markets more broadly.”
Market players remain concerned about the next moves at Credit Suisse and the impact on employees, investors and clients.
UBS Chairman Colm Kelleher told a media conference that it would wind down Credit Suisse’s investment bank, which has thousands of employees worldwide. UBS said it expected annual cost savings of some $7 billion by 2027.
(Reporting by Engen Tham in Shgnghai and Julie Zhu in Hong Kong; Additional reporting by Scott Murdoch in Sydney; Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee, Himani Sarkar and Jamie Freed)
Enbridge: Investment Grade Company Offering 7.6% Bond (NYSE:ENB)
Author’s note: All financial data in this article is presented in Canadian dollars.
Enbridge Inc. (NYSE:ENB), a North American energy transportation and distribution giant is currently finding itself near a 52-week low. Income investors may see the rising dividend yield, now at 7.1%, as a reason to scoop up shares. Interestingly, Enbridge has an extensive offering of corporate debt, and the longest dated maturity of 2083, is currently priced below par and offering a yield of greater than 7.6%. While many high yield investors may not be interested, it’s important to note that Enbridge holds an investment grade credit rating, which typically offers fixed income returns of almost 200 basis points lower.
Enbridge’s operation continued to grow in 2022 with revenues up $6 billion from 2021. The company’s expenses outpaced revenue growth, but that was mainly due to the $3 billion write off of assets and intangibles. Had the write offs not occurred, operating income would have been higher in 2022 than in 2021, but nevertheless, the $5.2 billion in operating income was sufficient to cover the company’s interest expenses.
While earnings of Enbridge looked healthy last year, the balance sheet tells a slightly different story. The business increased its total debt by more than $5 billion and shareholder equity declined by $1 billion. The company did succeed in building up some cash, but its current liabilities are $8 billion higher than current assets. This working capital deficit will likely lead to new debt issuance or refinancing in the next 12 months.
From a cash flow standpoint, debt investors need to see that Enbridge can generate the cash needed to pay down debt. In 2022, Enbridge grew operating cash flow by $2 billion and generated an impressive $6.6 billion in free cash flow. If Enbridge generated so much cash, why did debt increase in 2022? The answer lies in a combination of investing and financing activities. Enbridge invested $2 billion in investments and acquisitions that were not related to capital expenditures. On top of that, the company shelled out $7.3 billion in preferred and common share dividends, and redeemed $1 billion in preferred shares. The culmination of these activities led to the company needing to borrow more than $3 billion. (Note: I believe $2 billion in additional debt was placed on the balance sheet from other investing activities)
Under Enbridge’s current operating structure, additional capital is needed by either borrowing or selling assets to maintain the common share dividends. While the dividends on the preferred shares are very safe, they are actually yielding less than the coupon yield on the 2083 notes. Investors in long-term debt of Enbridge are getting a safer security for more income.
Complicating Enbridge’s future further is the fact that the company has over $14 billion worth of debt maturing over the next 2 years. The need to refinance this debt in a higher interest rate market combined with a working capital deficit is going to put pressure on the dividend. Enbridge may have to choose between its existing dividend and maintaining its credit rating. Fortunately for debt holders, the company does have over $9 billion in liquidity to work with among its existing credit facilities.
Even if Enbridge is downgraded into junk territory, the company’s 2083 notes are still trading at a higher return than the benchmark BB corporate yield. As in any case in life, there is a catch to what may be considered a “too good to be true” trade. These long term notes were underwritten with an automatic conversion covenant. In the event of a bankruptcy or related event of insolvency, the 2083 bonds would be automatically converted into preferred shares. This strange provision is the likely contributor behind the higher return on the notes.
While swings and uncertainties in the energy markets over the next several years could greatly change the risk landscape for Enbridge, I believe the company’s strong free cash flow makes it capable of weathering bear markets. Should the company need additional cash flow, it could reduce common share dividends and not impair the value of its bonds.
Note: These notes are not available with all brokerage sites, but they have been traded in increments as low as $5,000, therefore they are available to retail holders.
Maturity Date: 01/15/2083
Yield to Maturity: 7.63%
Credit Rating: (Moody’s/S&P): Baa3/NR
Warren Buffett May Invest in Regional Banks
The U.S. has reportedly turned to Warren Buffett once more for help in a financial crisis.
The billionaire investor offered lifelines to Goldman Sachs in 2008 following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and to Bank of America in 2011.
Now, Buffett has been in contact with the White House amid this year’s regional banking crisis, offering advice and guidance but also discussing an investment in the sector, Bloomberg News reported Sunday (March 19), citing unnamed sources.
Federal officials have sought to reassure the public over the past week after two high-profile banking failures: the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank on March 10, followed by the failure of Signature Bank two days later.
In a speech March 13, President Joe Biden told Americans they “can rest assured our banking system is safe. Your deposits are safe.”
That hasn’t kept politicians from both sides of the aisle for proposing tougher action against the banking sector. In that same speech, Biden called for a “full accounting” of what led to the two bank failures.
Later in the week, the top Republican and Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee said they’d scheduled a hearing for later this month to question top officials from the Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
“The House Financial Services Committee is committed to getting to the bottom of the failures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank,” Republican Patrick McHenry and Democrat Maxine Waters said in a news release. “This hearing will allow us to begin to understand why and how these banks failed.”
Worries about the industry continued late into the week, with a group of 11 large banks banding together to help another regional bank — First Republic of California — with a $30 billion injection.
“Last weekend felt like the wild, wild West,” Charlie Youakim, CEO of payments startup Sezzle, told PYMNTS CEO Karen Webster soon after the SVB failure. “SVB had been around forever, they had a great brand. [Its collapse] is a big shock to me.
Now, he added, there’s a conversation happening across the ecosystem about the future of banking, as they begin to be more diligent about where they keep their money.
“We’ve got a board meeting later this week to go over the set of banks that [Sezzle] works with,” said Youakim. “We’re putting together a report of what these banks look like, their financial stability … because it’s not the case anymore that you can just trust your bank, trust that your money will be safe.”
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