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It’s not often that someone starts a business in the midst of a crisis, but that’s exactly what one of Patricia Astley’s female wealth management clients is doing. A London-based relationship manager and executive director, Patricia explains that after getting divorced from a dominant husband 10 years ago her client has grown so much in confidence that she is starting an internet business.

Initially, the client relied heavily on Julius Baer to take decisions for her, but this year she resisted the temptation to panic and sell during March’s market meltdown. Today she is planning to launch her new business. “I’m really proud of her because if I fast forward from where she was, where she didn’t even want to draw up her own personal budget, she’s now finalising her plans to start a business, which we’re helping her with,” says Patricia.

The future is female
This inspiring story could be a metaphor for the evolution of women and wealth more generally. During the past decade, women have grown to represent almost half of the clients managed by Astley and her team. And, while previously they might have owned assets in name only, now women have full responsibility for them, often making carefully thought out investment decisions mostly following the advice of their trusted advisor.

Why the sea change? According to Patricia, a native New Yorker who moved to London over 20 years ago, the change partly arises from London’s growing number of divorcees, as well as women outliving their husbands. Encouragingly, she also sees more young women taking over family businesses and successfully starting up enterprises, especially in the technology sector. Research confirms her experience.

Women invest differently
As women become more acquainted with finance, so they’re developing distinct characteristics as investors. Patricia recalls that when the pandemic spooked financial markets in March it was her male clients who tended to reject advice and sell into the market trough. The women were less emotional and held on as asset prices recovered. 

Women also tend to invest with a wider purpose than simply financial gain, she says. For instance, they are more likely to favour investment portfolios with environmental and social goals. Additionally, their wealth goals are more likely to involve family members or philanthropy.

We are at the tipping point where women are now creating more wealth and gaining greater financial independence.

Patricia Astley

There is no hard evidence that confirms how genders invest. However, in Patricia’s experience women tend to be comfortable making financial decisions on property and expensive interiors comfortably but less so when investing in the financial markets. Even so, she finds them less impulsive investors, especially in times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.

She believes it will take time for women to break into a financial industry that has historically been dominated by men, whether as financial professionals or investors. “It takes a long time to break the habits of the past and, as an industry, we need to make financial language more attractive and investing more tangible,” she asserts. “After so many years of not being in the front line of investing or finance, women tend not to engage because they fear making mistakes. This holds women back. They need to be more aware, to educate themselves and gain confidence.  

“We are at the tipping point where women are now creating more wealth and gaining greater financial independence. Now more than ever it is essential that the finance industry supports women.”

Five broad tips
Testifying to the long-term approach of women, Patricia has never moved firm in the 30 years since she was recruited as a banker, partly because as a Spanish speaker she could talk to Latin American clients. In that time, she has become passionate about making the industry friendlier to women and has five tips for women to make them more confident about investing.

  1. Have a plan about what you want to achieve.
  2. Set tangible goals for your investments.
  3. Read a lot to build your knowledge.
  4. Stretch yourself – go beyond your comfort zone.
  5. Value your contribution – believe in your ability to take investment decisions for your family’s future.

In many ways, 2020 seems a defining year. For Patricia it has provided yet more proof that women are growing into more confident and capable investors, often defying the conventional wisdom to prove less emotional when making investment decisions in the heat of the market crisis.

YOUR WEALTH PROGRAMME
Julius Baer supports women in acquiring financial knowledge and playing a more active role in wealth planning. We are therefore offering financial workshops specifically for women as part of our educational Your Wealth Programme. Benefit from the specialist knowledge of our internal experts, ask your questions in a protected environment, and exchange ideas and experiences with like-minded individuals, so you will be well informed when making decisions about your finances.

> Contact us to learn more about our Your Wealth Programme