OpinionMar 13 2023

'Beware of lazy generalisations about women and money'

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'Beware of lazy generalisations about women and money'
Our female customers can hold their own when it comes to investing. (Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Caroline Criado Perez's brilliant exposé of the gender data gap, Invisible Women, explores how we live in a world designed for men as a default, based on data blind spots that largely ignore women.

We see it from medicine, crash test dummies through to children’s playgrounds – and pretty much everywhere.

It’s always worth raising a curious eyebrow at data, and scratching under the surface.

As we mark International Women’s Day, we took a look at some of our own Interactive Investor customer data.

This suggests that female investors on the platform over the past three years (since the Covid-19 pandemic, when we started collating the data) outperformed male customers to end December 2022.


Generalisations about male versus female risk appetite are as redundant as they are lazy.

That shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise – but it does warrant further investigation, not least because women have broadly similar portfolios to men.

That means that generalisations about male versus female risk appetite are as redundant as they are lazy.

We can only reflect our own data, of course, but as the UK’s second-largest investment platform for private investors, with around 120,000 female customers, we think our data is thought provoking.

To put this into context, our numbers of female customers is bigger than some entire platforms.

The performance numbers will fluctuate, but time and time again, our customer research shows that investment approaches between the genders appear to be subtle when looking at average Interactive Investor accounts.

Our latest private investor performance index (to end of 2022) showed that men and women had similar levels of cash, for example.

Men had slightly higher levels (11.3 per cent, and women 10.8 per cent) and equity exposure was also similar, again with slightly higher weightings from men (39 per cent compared to 36 per cent, respectively).

Interestingly, however, women have had a higher exposure to investment trusts than men at 24 per cent compared to men with 19 per cent on average.

Trusts often have a strong international focus, and tend to outperform in rising markets due to gearing (borrowing), which can enhance returns.

But gearing can also enhance losses, acting as a drag on returns when markets fall.

Women had a little more UK exposure than men at the end of December, but we’re only talking a few percentage points.

Looking across various time periods to December 31 2022, total female customer returns outperformed male customers across all time horizons measured in the data from three months up to three years.

There are some reasons to be optimistic.

Even during 2022’s tumultuous year for markets, women logged smaller losses on average than their male counterparts.