Why more women investors matter

According to the data from another World Bank survey, women-led businesses were disproportionately affected by the crisis.

Published: 14th March 2022 04:25 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th March 2022 09:09 AM   |  A+A-

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Representational Image. (File Photo)

Express News Service

The Covid-19 pandemic was crueller to women than men. A high-frequency phone survey data collected by the World Bank in the initial phase of the Covid-19 pandemic up to July 2020 shows that 42% of women lost their jobs when 31% of men lost theirs.

According to the data from another World Bank survey, women-led businesses were disproportionately affected by the crisis. “Women-owned businesses are concentrated in sectors that were harder-hit by lock-downs and mobility restrictions. Even within these sectors, women-owned businesses fared worse,” the survey said. By September 2020, men had recovered 49% of their initial employment losses, compared with 30% of women. 

Women in India have not been an exception. Women workers in rural and urban areas were affected due to the pandemic and suffered a loss of income. Any loss of income or even uncertainty can directly affect saving and investing. The impact on your finances could be profound if you were without a stable income for a year. It is worse if you are a woman. 

What next for women

It was the International Women’s Day on 8 March 2022. Businesses put out social media posts, primarily pink, to celebrate their women’s workforce. Many fintech companies pushed out surveys among their women customers to coincide with the Women’s Day celebrations. One survey said that gold and fixed deposits were the top investment instruments of choice for most women. Public Provident Fund and chit funds are other popular instruments. Another survey by Scripbox, a digital financial products distributor, found that 44% of women they surveyed prioritised a financial plan and 40% committed to saving more. As many as 22% started investing during the pandemic. 

A survey by Grip, another fintech company, said that 40% of respondents did not know how to diversify their portfolios. A third of the women surveyed said they depend on others to handle their investments. 
For women, financial resilience is perhaps a priority before financial freedom. Your attitude towards managing money is conservative. You are not inclined to take risks as men do. You also have your reasons for that risk-averse behaviour. 

The surveys point out that there are more of you in the financial system now than ever before. That is a good thing as it can help you plan and invest better than before. Your dinner table conversations would be more meaningful now on money matters. This column advises you to take responsibility for your money much more than you did before. A World Bank study showed that households and businesses with access to various financial services withstand shocks better than those who do not. Borrowing through legitimate sources investing through the regulated stock markets is an essential first step. You can shepherd the direction of your household finances better if you are armed with adequate knowledge. It is easier to learn about various banking and financial services products than ever before. 

Regulators in India like the Reserve Bank of India, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority or IRDA emphasise investor education. It is a wonderful coincidence that India has appointed the first woman as Sebi chief. Madhabi Puri Buch, who has immense experience in the financial services sector, would be pleased to know that more women are getting into direct investing in the stock market. 

Your first step would be to enhance your knowledge by regularly updating yourself with information. Several YouTubers create explanatory videos and social media content to get you started. You can begin reading periodicals and books on investing. If you are salaried and have a steady income, work with a financial advisor. It is good to have an independent view of money. They can help you channelise your savings towards investments that take you closer to them. The evolving financial system has created enablers all around you. The onus of building that financial resilience is on you.

(The author is editor-in-chief at www.moneyminute.in)


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