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Women more fearful of investing than men

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Brits greatest fear about stock market investment is losing all their money, according to the Alliance Trust Savings' quarterly Investment Gender Gap research.

However, the issue looms particularly large for women, with 38% saying it is their biggest fear, compared to 28% of men. While 17% have no fears about investing, only 6% of women said the same. Women are less concerned than men about the cost of fees, but worry more about not understanding their investment and not knowing where to start.

This supports the findings from the first Investing Gender Gap report, which showed women are significantly more risk averse than men. Women are more likely to prefer cash savings, with only half (50%) holding any investments compared to almost three quarters (70%) of men. They also have less confidence in investing with less than half (44%) seeing it as a calculated risk to grow their money, compared to two thirds (66%) of men.

Alliance Trust Savings’ found that while the top financial priorities for both older and younger women are mortgage or rent payments and day-to-day essentials, retirement comes third for over 35s. For under 34s, retirement comes fifth on the list, below saving for a holiday and saving for emergencies. For young men, retirement comes third after mortgage or rent and day-to-day essentials and for older men it’s the top financial priority.

Sara Wilson, head of platform proposition at Alliance Trust Savings, said: “Unknowingly, women could be putting their financial futures at risk through fear of investing. With interest rates currently so low, inflation is eroding the value of cash savings in real terms. The gender pay gap is still very real and changes to the state pension age mean women’s pre-retirement incomes are now falling.

“History shows that investing offers the greatest potential to grow savings over the longer-term, so helps address issues like these. The challenge is how to get more women to embrace it. Improving financial education, through initiatives such as the industry-wide KickStart Money can play an important role. They can help build confidence around money from an early age and encourage everyone to take a greater interest in their financial affairs, but this all takes time. For women’s sake, we can’t afford to wait. The financial services industry needs to tackle it head on to give women much needed financial confidence now.”

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