Biz Sch News 07 December 2015

Financial Literacy – an opportunity for women to take charge

panel and room

Members of the Panel: Prof Ang Swee Hoon (moderator), Ms Baljeet Kaur Grewal, Ms Andress Goh, Dr Owi S. Ruivivar, Dr Qian Wenlan

When it comes to female financial literacy, there is good news and bad.

The bad news is that women are falling behind men, especially in an increasingly complex financial world.  The good news is women are more aware of this shortcoming and can take action to bridge this gap.

During the Centre for Asset Management Research and Investments’ 3rd Women in Banking and Investments forum, the four panelists discussed issues pertaining to financial literacy and gender diversity, as well as shared their anecdotes about how they learnt to be financially savvy. The unanimous personality that all of them highlighted as their first financial mentor was their mothers, emphasizing the vital role women play in ensuring the transmission of financial literacy to their children.

In this day and age, women in general have to consider the following factors when taking charge of their financial matters:

  • Longer life expectancy
  • Higher healthcare costs
  • Lower median savings
  • Lower median income

According to Assistant Professor Qian Wenlan of Finance, women are also more risk averse and tend to take a more conservative stance when it comes to investments. They are also more subject to social norms and peer pressure.

“How you spend money is a reflection of your values,” according to Baljeet Kaur Grewal, Advisor, Asian Development Bank. “If you need to spend, spend it on education as it’s the one investment that keeps returning and yielding.  If you educate women, you educate a generation.  Children tend to pick up financial habits from mum.”

Andress Goh, Managing Director, Global Co-Head and Head of Singapore Office at Allianz Capital Partners also highlighted that circumstances compelled her mother to take charge of the family’s finances.  It’s a matter of stepping up to take on the responsibility

Being aware of the challenges and opportunities, women can take steps to empower themselves and be financially independent.

In fact, Dr Owi S. Ruivivar, Managing Director, Fixed Income Emerging Markets Debt at Goldman Sachs Asset Management Singapore identified opportunities for banks and financial institutions. “The market is ripe for disruption – there is a huge opportunity for financial products tailored specifically for women that take into consideration key milestones and factors such as motherhood, the gender pay gap and relevant financial planning,” she said.