More women are becoming entrepreneurs, financially literate and keen investors – but what advice do they need to help them succeed?
Modwenna Rees-Mogg, founder of AngelNews and chair of The Pluralists Club, talks to FTAdviser In Focus about the slow but steady rise of female entrepreneurism and women investors, and what can be done to encourage this growth.
Rees-Mogg, with a background in corporate finance and a keen financial journalist herself, says there are still barriers that need to be broken down to allow women investors to thrive, and thereby help Britain's entrepreneurs to succeed.
FTAdviser: What first attracted you to the world of investments?
Modwenna Rees-Mogg: It was an intense curiosity about how the world functions economically, particularly around how capital can be deployed to create economic growth and increased productivity, especially through the growth of innovative businesses.
FTA: How difficult has it been as a woman to enter what has been a traditionally male-dominated world?
MRM: Funnily enough, I have never seen gender as an issue. I have never thought or think that my gender should stop me from anything I thought I was competent to achieve.
I was significantly helped (and continue to be helped) by amazing men and women who champion me. With hindsight I realise that some people are biased, but that is their issue not mine.
FTA: In your experience, how many angel investors are women, and how many female-founded businesses are supported by angels?
MRM: Not enough, but this is for many reasons and it is dangerous to generalise. I believe the numbers are rising and in the US the percentage of women and BAME investors is growing healthily.
I understand the number of women investors in the UK is now somewhere around 10-20 per cent, and in the US it is now 27 per cent. A good report to read on the subject is the Angel Capital Association's Angel Funders Report 2020.
The numbers will grow faster now that more women are creating their own wealth through a successful career or building a successful entrepreneurial business.
For women who want to dip their toe in the water, I would encourage them to do two things:
- Play with tiny sums (e.g. £100 or even just £10 per investment) on one of the crowdfunding platforms and perhaps accept this money will be the cost of educating yourself about the joys and perils of backing entrepreneurs in unquoted businesses.
- Then, join one of the brilliant women-focused angel investment groups that have emerged recently, make friends with other angels who are like-minded in terms of their approach to investing. Once you are extremely comfortable about how it all works, then start to make a few investments with money you can absolutely afford to lose.
To be honest I wish more angels would see the value in investing some money in learning how to be an angel (typically such training can be tax deductible). This is true for all angels, regardless of diversity issues.
The angels who take time to understand what they are doing before starting to invest tend, in my experience, to last the course and angel investing becomes a long-term interesting, pleasurable and financially fruitful occupation.
I am concerned about how few women or BAME entrepreneurs successfully raise funding, but I see that the investment market is now trying hard to address this issue.