Women are unstoppable, with more earning potential and control over their own lives than ever before. Across the U.S., they’re making waves—women now outnumber men in college, own 21% of businesses, and they're the primary breadwinners in over 40% of households. But, despite her economic strength, the modern woman is left out of financial services content strategy.
As we found in our recent trend report, women report a higher rate of distrust for banks and financial institutions, with nearly a quarter of women unsure whether they trust their bank to look after their financial well-being. So, despite the power of the purse, why does financial content still largely ignore women?
Well, financial content is often created with a one-size-fits-all approach. And, who is a one-size-fits-all financial services content strategy made for? Unfortunately, it’s generally men. But, as women are the next projected wave of growth in wealth management, financial brands can no longer get away with targeting only men and must create content that speaks to women and their financial needs.
How has financial content been talking to women?
Well, think of it this way—how often are popular financial ads targeting women? And those that are created—what was the tone? Chances are, it was something similar to a woman needing advice with budgeting or reducing their frivolous spending sprees. We know, ew.
Historically, regarding financial content, women haven’t received the same messaging as men. Whether it's from magazines (or brands themselves), women are often spoken to in a way that perpetuates the outdated stereotypes that they're “bad with money” and need to focus on budgeting rather than building a diversified investment portfolio.
What effect do these archaic stereotypes have on women?
This negative messaging affects how women perceive themselves and how they engage in financial decision-making. To change this talk and create a more level playing field, financial brands need to rethink their financial services content strategy to create a more inclusive tone that engages women on their own terms.
So, let's take a look at how you can change the way you talk to women about money and equip them to achieve financial freedom.
The Myth of the Modern Woman & Financial Decision Making
Gender roles have changed dramatically over the past few decades, with women taking on more prominent roles in society and the workforce. In today’s world, women—
Makeup over half of the workforce
But despite critical women's roles in personal financial decision-making, the stereotype that they are "bad with money" persists, leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy in which women avoid financial planning and investing.
So, why are women across the wealth spectrum still inclined to doubt themselves when it comes to money?
A major factor contributing to this is how the media and society talk to women about money.
Blame the Language of Media for Gender Stereotypes in Finance
Language is a powerful tool—what is said and how it's said significantly impact how we think and behave. In the context of finance, the way that money is discussed can trigger feelings of inadequacy in women and lead them to opt out of financial decision-making.
Consider how most personal finance content is presented: financial magazines and websites lean heavily on language that suggests women are frivolous spenders. One study showed that 90% of articles about money written for women were about budgeting and savings (versus 72% of articles that targeted men were about growing investments). Another recent linguistic study by Starling Bank of 300 magazine articles found that when men were the target reader, the language used tended to be powerful and inspiring. In contrast, the language used when discussing women was more likely to be condescending. In addition, the same study found that 65% of the money articles in women's magazines defined women as excessive spenders, offering advice for them to restrict, take control of their shopping, and be thrifty.
While negative stereotyping isn't limited to women, as 70% of articles in men's magazines emphasized that making money is a masculine ideal, how society talks about money uniquely impacts how women feel about their relationship with it. As women consistently receive the message that “money is a masculine construct,” “they're not good with money,” “they're not investors,” and so on, it often leads women to internalize these messages as "being bad" with money as expected. In response, women are more likely to pass the responsibility for investing to the men in their lives. Research from UBS reported that in opposite-gender relationships, the male partner takes the lead in investing in 83 percent of households, versus in just 2 percent in which the woman does.
As you can see, both genders are being pushed into societal norms that pressure them to behave in a certain way. So then, how do you approach creating new financial content? Instead of conforming to outdated ideas of gender, financial services content should give both men and women the financial tools they need to make informed decisions about their money—regardless of their gender.
Financial Confidence Begins with Our Parents
It's not just magazines and media that are at fault with how we discuss money—it's also how we talk to our kids about wealth and money. Studies show that parents teach their kids about money in different ways depending on the gender of their child. One poll showed that boys were more likely to be encouraged to build wealth and invest, while girls were more likely to be taught the importance of budgeting.
It's no surprise then that men report higher levels of financial confidence compared to women. In our Retirement Trend Report, we found that women were significantly more likely to say they felt "overwhelmed," "out of control," and "anxious" when it comes to finances. At the same time, men were more likely to report feeling "successful" and "in control." These feelings were strongly connected to gender regardless of annual household income.
Financial confidence is critical for making sound decisions and taking charge of one's financial future. Women need to feel confident making money decisions without fear of judgment.
So, what can be done?
How To Create A Financial Services Content Strategy That's Inclusive To Women
"Give a woman a dollar, and she can put it to good use. Teach her about how money really works, and she can change the world." Linda Davis Taylor, CEO, and Chairman of Clifford Swan Investment Counselors
How can you talk about money in a way that builds women up and doesn't make them feel like they're not good enough? It starts with developing a financial services content strategy that considers the unique needs of women as investors and wealth planners. What drives them, their money mindset, challenges they face regarding financial planning, and how you can better serve them.
Let’s dive into a few female consumer insights when it comes to money.
How Do Women Think About Investing and Financial Planning?
Information gathering is the first step many women take to get more comfortable with money topics and build financial confidence. Women want to be informed, and they want to understand what they're investing in. Some key things to consider about women as financial investors—
Women are successful investors—Women have been found to outperform men at investing by 1.8%. Studies have shown that women trade less, hold on to investments for longer periods of time, and are more likely to invest in companies with sustainability practices.
Women want to be financially secure—A recent study showed that women were more likely than men to say their number-one financial goal is to "retire with financial security and peace of mind." Women are increasingly interested in stability and protecting their future (heck, they're likely to outlive men, so they need to be more prepared.)
Women can be risk-averse—Research shows that women often are more risk-averse than men with their money. They take fewer risks when picking stocks, investing in venture capital, and selling investments. Per U.S. Trust, the average woman has 68% of her portfolio in cash and cash equivalents, compared to 59% of the average man's portfolio.
Women are relationship-oriented—When it comes to finances, women want to work with someone they can trust. Women are more likely to ask questions to financial advisors or talk to friends and family to learn about investing. In fact, a recent study from Fidelity reported that 77% of women believe that if they had a financial advisor to help them invest, they'd be more confident about their financial future.
Keep these things in mind as you develop your content strategy. Financial services companies that want to engage women better should consider how they can appeal to this style of wealth management. When it comes to money, women want to feel informed and in control—just like men. By creating a more inclusive content strategy, financial brands can help women feel confident about their finances and encourage them to take charge of their financial future.
Financial Services Content Strategy that Empowers Women
When it comes to developing content, create a more approachable space for women to engage in financial topics. Here's how to get started with the kind of content that can best help women achieve financial confidence (without misplaced judgment).
Bring Women Into The Conversation
Women are some of the most powerful voices in finance—and they perform well when it comes to investing. Don't let them sit on the sidelines; use them as financial experts in your content strategy. Get their take on how to best invest, save, and manage money. Women don't need a guy in a tie telling them what to do with their money, but they may want to hear from other women.
A recent study by Fidelity found that only 42% of women surveyed feel confident in their ability to save for the long term, including retirement. This has broad-reaching implications—as confidence relates to building wealth and navigating financial decision-making. Financial brands can help women feel more confident by providing content that helps women understand their options and make informed decisions. When it comes to investing, there are a lot of products available, and it can be overwhelming. Financial brands can help by creating platforms with the resources women need to make informed decisions about their money. Fidelity has tapped into this need with a unique space for women to learn more about investing.
Women Talk Money
To encourage women to feel comfortable about investing and asking money-related questions, Fidelity developed a content hub called "Women Talk Money." The website includes articles, videos, and online Q&As that discuss topics like how to start investing, saving for retirement, and dealing with financial stress. Content hubs like Fidelity’s can help women feel confident about topics that affect women financially.
Strengthen the Idea that Building Wealth is for Women
A common misconception is that women are not as interested in money and investing as men. This couldn't be further from the truth. Women are increasingly taking control of their finances and doing it in a way that works for them. Research shows that there has been a 50% increase in female investors since 2018 and that women are increasingly using more investing tools. Financial brands can break down old notions by creating content that features women's stories and experiences with money. This can help show other women that they are not alone in their financial journey, and building wealth is for women too.
Inclusive Communication Empowers Women to Grow Wealth
The way women have been spoken to about money doesn't have to continue. Financial brands can change how they communicate with women by using a tone of confidence, freedom, and inclusivity. This shift in communication will help create a more approachable space for women to engage in financial decision-making and learn about wealth-growing opportunities. Financial content shouldn't be about conforming to outdated ideas of gender but rather about giving everyone the valuable insights they need to make informed decisions. Only then can we empower women to take control of their financial future.