Voice of the Industry

Stop selling us pink products! Why would women need their own financial services?

Wednesday 28 April 2021 08:48 CET | Editor: Claudia Pincovski | Voice of the industry

Around the world, more and more organisations are offering financial services that cater specifically to women

The European Women Payments Network (EWPN) recently published a report, Female Finance in Figures, that goes into the who, why, and how of female-focused financial services by looking at 102 of these companies and describing the state of female finance in figures.

The research ’s main findings revealed that financial services are not gender-neutral: they are usually designed with wealthier white men in mind and are therefore not always appropriate to women’s needs and preferences. Second, due to their different social roles, women tend to engage with financial services differently to men. Furthermore, the report aims to set out to 1) find knowledge resources and data on financial services for women, and 2) to study some of the recent services for women in credit, investment, insurance, and so on, to find indications of gender differences.

The opportunity for fintechs addressing gender equality, diversity, and inclusion

Women are globally financially under-, or even unserved: according to the World Bank, almost 1 Billion women lack access to an account of any kind at a financial institution (constituting 56% of the global unbanked population). But even in countries where there is a higher rate of financial inclusion of women, gender inequality is still distinctly present. The most recent estimate by the OECD of the gender wage gap is 12.8%, meaning that women have less wealth to spend and invest. In 2020, only 6% of venture capital went to female-founded companies, and according to research by the Financial Alliance for Women, women are becoming increasingly aware of the fact that they are underserved by financial institutions.

Consequently, Oliver Wyman estimated that USD 700 Billion is yearly foregone by the lack of inclusion for women. Kantar puts this number at almost USD 800 Billion. These opportunities come in the form of potential new clients, new products and services, and increased market share for financial institutions from women who are currently not included in the financial ecosystem. Moreover, women make excellent financial customers: as the report points out, they are more loyal, better at saving and repaying loans, and they represent a lower cost of acquisition and a higher life cycle value. In sum, there is a world to gain for financial institutions by catering more to women.

The challenges to boost inclusion

In their previous report, Female Finance: Digital, Mobile, Networked, the researchers at EWPN investigated why women need their own financial services, and how these services differ from traditional financial services. In this report they stress that female-focused solutions need to address the economic, social, and cultural realities of women. This can take many forms: for example, globally, women feel like they have less (traditional) financial literacy, which a company can address by providing educational resources and support to make women aware and confident in their financial capabilities. Moreover, women have several economic disadvantages compared to men, such as a shorter time in the labour market, a longer life, and more family responsibilities. To accommodate this, companies such as Ellevest and Nav.it aim to help women find specific strategies to overcome these hurdles and thrive financially as a result. For an excellent summary of the different challenges that women face financially and ways that different organisations address them I recommend reading the report (specifically check out the table on page 59, which describes the hurdles that women face and ways that organisations are attempting to overcome them)!

The latest report also discusses another factor that causes women to be underserved: the underrepresentation of women in the field of financial services. According to a recent study by McKinsey, In the financial service industry, 50% of employees at the entry level are female, but only 20% of executives are female. Additionally, research by Oliver Wyman shows that women most often hold positions in marketing, HR, and compliance. This discrepancy needs to be addressed in order to ensure that financial services can be effectively designed to suit women: hiring more female designers, researchers, and product managers is an intuitive and organic way of widening your target demographic to include women, without having to resort to gender-stereotyped marketing or ‘pinkifying’ existing financial service offerings.

Advice on building financial services for women

The report provides several recommendations for financial service providers that want to cater more to women. Firstly, the researchers urge companies to invest in understanding the needs of women in their specific context: needs are bound to differ per geography, culture, and class, and the better your understanding of these needs, the better you will be able to provide services for women in your context. Secondly, they encourage companies to develop ‘holistic value propositions that integrate financial offerings into everyday activities, as well as personal networks and communities’, which will allow women to have more open lines of communication and is more inclusive of different backgrounds. In other words, provide customers with the information and tools that they need to relate their finances to the rest of their lives, such as their work or the education of their children. Finally, the researchers stress the need for the industry to develop their internal organisational diversity: more female designers and product managers will create better solutions for other women, and companies would do well to capitalise on their team’s diversity.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it can be a delicate thing to discuss the needs of women as a whole, and it can be reductive to pigeon-hole them as a group. On the other hand, thinking of the needs of women as a group can help bolster efforts to be more inclusive, which is why research like this is so valuable. All in all, gender equality, diversity, and inclusion are not political movements or acts of charity. It is all about the bottom line. Listening to people who think differently, from different cultures, and life experiences reduces mistakes and opens new opportunities!

I recommend reading the report for yourself if you want to learn more about how to develop solutions for women in the financial services industry and be on the lookout for future research from EWPN!

EWPN is holding an online event series on their research, the first instalment of which you can find here. Female Finance: Digital, Mobile, Networked was also supported by Keen Innovation AG. Female Finance in Figures by Keen Innovation AG and Bank Cler.

About Mirela Ciobanu

Mirela Ciobanu is a Senior Editor at The Paypers and has been actively involved in drafting industry reports, carrying out interviews, and writing about innovation in payments and fintech. She is passionate about finding the latest news on AI, crypto, blockchain, DeFi and she is an active advocate of the need to keep our online data/presence protected. Mirela has a bachelor’s degree in English language and holds a master’s degree in Marketing. She can be reached at mirelac@thepaypers.com or via LinkedIn.


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Keywords: financial services, data, report, investment, study, unbanked
Categories: Banking & Fintech | Payments General
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Banking & Fintech