Top GWI Takeaway: “An important thing to realize is that there are certain types of financial firms and investment strategies focused on doing some sort of social good. We’ve been learning about ESG investing, which is Environmental, Social and Governance Investing [which refers to three central factors in measuring the sustainability and ethical impact of in investment in a business]. That is something directly designed to make things better, but through the use of financial tools. We also found out about foundations and investing for not-for-profits. All of that combined has shown me that there is still a way to be in finance and pursue some form of public service. I was very interested in law and politics from the social-good perspective, and I’m seeing those worlds align with finance.”
1. Get in the game. Women are participating in their employers’ retirement plans at the same rate as men. The problem is, they typically save less—an average of 6.9 percent of pay compared to 7.6 percent for men, according to 2013 a report by Aon Hewitt. Many also don’t contribute enough to take advantage of any company match. This makes it harder for women to build sufficient savings to fund retirement. In fact, according to the Aon Hewitt report, women have average plan balances that are significantly less than men’s, consistently across all salary ranges ($59,300 for women vs. $100,000 for men). The solution? Bast urges women to take full advantage of their retirement plans as soon as possible. “The key to building wealth is to start early, set aside as much as possible and always contribute at least as much to get any employer match that may be available.”
The good news: Organizations like Rock The Street, Wall Street (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit) aim to fill in the gaps. It’s a year-long financial literacy program that educates high school girls about careers in finance, and the program includes education about saving, investing, capital markets and financial preparedness for college. Nonprofits like this tend to accept one-time or recurring donations of any size.   
John Bourke, chief operating officer at Allegiance Capital, believes maintaining a diverse workforce is a “winning strategy.” He says, “It seems obvious to leadership here that no particular slice of pie of the global demographic has a corner on the market when it comes to smarts and skills. We have always actively sought out diverging perspectives as a central strategy in arriving at superior results.”
Financial editor and writer LouAnna Lofton, who studied the habits of Warren Buffett and compared them to research about gender and investing, has also found that women match their investments more closely to their goals and remain calmer during market turbulence. During a downturn, she says, female investment portfolios weather the storm far better than male ones.
JPMorgan, for instance, holds ‘Winning Women’ events which offer networking opportunities and guidance for prospective female investment bankers. Morgan Stanley has several diversity initiatives, including a leadership program for newly promoted female managing directors, a six-month leadership program for women vice presidents, as well as a women’s business exchange within the bank’s wealth management unit. On the more practical side, Goldman Sachs for example is accommodating mothers with on-site child care at its New York and New Jersey offices, as well as on-site lactation rooms. 

The information in this report was prepared by the Global Investment Strategy (GIS) division of WFII. Opinions represent GIS’ opinion as of the date of this report, are for general informational purposes only, and are not intended to predict or guarantee the future performance of any individual security, market sector, or the markets generally. GIS does not undertake to advise you of any change in its opinions or the information contained in this report. Wells Fargo & Company affiliates may issue reports or have opinions that are inconsistent with, and reach different conclusions from, this report.


Do what you can to learn about investing now, because estimates show that women control 51 percent of wealth in the U.S. and are projected to control two-thirds by 2020, according to a Fidelity study. Yet women are more likely to say that "lack of investing knowledge or experience" and "too much information, or complexity of investing" are reasons they feel less confident, according to a Capital One investing survey. Consider taking an online investing course, downloading a podcast or wading through a book. (Warren Buffett's favorite is "The Intelligent Investor.")
2. Make “friends” with risk. Women prefer to preserve wealth even if it means giving up higher returns. Take a 51-year-old attorney (who preferred not to give her name) as an example; she has consistently contributed the maximum allowed by her law firm’s retirement plan. “I know I should be investing in stocks, but I don’t want a repeat of 2008. My money is parked in a money market fund, where I know it’s safe.” 
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