There’s been a ‘power surge’ of new women investors. But there still aren’t enough
Author: Alicia Adamczyk
There has been a new “power surge” of women investors in recent years, a new report finds. But while women are making financial gains, more can be done to ensure they are financially prepared for the future.
Sixty-eight percent of women are currently saving for retirement, compared with 66% in 2019, according to a new report from Fidelity Investments. The finance giant added 48% more female clients in 2023 compared with 2019, including 99% more Gen Z women.
“I’ve been in this business for a while, and that’s a really different trajectory than where we were even five years ago,” Lorna Kapusta, head of women and engagement at Fidelity Investments, tells Fortune.
Still, Kapusta notes, there’s progress to be made: 68% of women saving for retirement means 32%, a full third, are not. That’s a higher number than many financial experts would like to see, given the potential for wealth building that comes with long-term investing.
“I don’t want to downplay the goodness. It’s changing,” she says. “But coming off this summer where the power of the woman’s dollar is so strong, it’s time to accelerate it.”
What’s holding women back? Confidence is one issue. Fidelity’s survey finds that 23% of women would feel more comfortable investing if they had a trusted resource to manage investments on their behalf, while 22% would if they could talk to a trusted financial advisor.
Of course, there are other roadblocks. More than a quarter, 27%, say they aren’t saving for retirement because they do not earn enough money. And 22% say their caregiving responsibilities are affecting their ability to save for retirement.
While both men and women can be caregivers, women still take on the majority of that work. It impacts their mental health, finances, and careers—making their financial reality distinct from men’s. Fidelity’s research points to two other unique factors, longer life spans and higher health care costs, that also impact how women manage their money. Women live, on average, almost six years longer than men. Their lifetime health care costs are also significantly higher.
Have the money talk
Kapusta says one way to get women investing more is to normalize talking about it. Generally speaking, while women may feel comfortable talking about their careers, responsibilities, etc., money and finances can still feel taboo. That can make some women feel alone and confused, when talking it out with a friend or advisor could be empowering.
“It starts with getting comfortable and hearing what more women are doing, rather than feeling judged,” she says. “Coming together, even if it’s on Zoom, and allowing people to ask questions—these are all catalysts for change like we’ve never seen before.”
Not that Kapusta blames women for feeling uncertain. Investing was built for men, she says—in particular, traders. Now, though, there are plenty of low-cost and easy options to use to invest in products like index funds and ETFs, which can help women prepare for retirement and other goals.
There are plenty of ways to talk about money, even for those who don’t want to discuss it with their friends or family, including personal finance Facebook groups and subreddits created for women; advisors who are available through a workplace retirement plan (you can often talk to these professionals for free); or via a community like Fidelity’s Women Talk Money (Ellevest, another investment company, also offers articles and community).
Some more good news from Fidelity’s survey is that it backs up other research that has found younger generations are starting to invest earlier than older generations: 71% of Gen Z women are investing, compared with 63% of millennials, 55% of Gen X, and 57% of boomer women.
“Boomer women have said time and time again their biggest regret is not starting investing sooner,” says Kapusta. “Younger women are taking note of that, and it’s easier than ever” to start investing, with products like robo-advisors, target-date funds, and low account minimums.
From Barbie to Beyoncé to Taylor Swift, there was no denying the impact of women’s buying power this summer. Kapusta hopes that power can be harnessed in other areas of their financial lives, as well.
“We’ve made good progress. But this should be another catalyst for us to do more,” she says.