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Study: Women invest less than men and prefer low-risk funds

Analysis of customer investment preferences at S-Bank suggests that women are more hesitant investors than men, investing less money and avoiding high-risk funds that hold the possibility of a higher return.

Image: Yle Uutisgrafiikka

S-Bank, the banking arm of Finland’s leading retailer S Group, assessed whether there was a difference in the investment profiles of its male and female account holders and made some interesting observations.

Women prefer low-risk investments, while men tend to take their chances on mutual funds that promise average or high returns. There are more women at S-Bank who prefer investing in low-risk mutual funds than men. When it comes to funds that contain an average risk, the genders are quite equal in their choice, but in the high-risk category, the percentage of men grows considerably.

“Perhaps women feel as if investment is difficult. [They think] they have to learn challenging terminology and educate themselves before they can start to invest and save,” says S-Bank development manager Annika Pohtila.

Females invest 92 cents for every male euro

S-Bank research also observed that women invest less than men in Finland: on average, 92 cents for every male euro. For equity investments, the gap is even bigger, women invest 85 cents for every euro that men do.

“I would imagine that men are more likely to invest their extra money in the stock exchange,” says Helsinki investor Marja-Leena Haapanen.

Better safe that sorry

She says that women’s aversion to risk is a good thing.

“Women investigate companies long and hard. They don’t familiarize themselves with the numbers and technical analysis like men do, but women for example scrutinize the company’s leadership and make sure the company is reputable: treats the environment well and pays its taxes to Finland. These things are important for many women, at least it is for me,” Haapanen says.

She encourages women to become investors. S-Bank says its analysis was also part of its effort to make the threshold for female investors lower.

The S-Bank analysis was based on material from over 90,000 bank customers. Domestic and foreign research has reached similar investment behaviour conclusions.