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Banks have taken great strides to close the gender gap – how can we keep going?

The financial well-being of women depends on closing the gender investment gap. Women typically save more and live longer, yet they tend to earn and invest less when compared to men. On International Women’s Day, the question remains, what is the status of women in finance?

Banks in Singapore and the surrounding areas have taken great strides in closing the investment gap in recent years. From bridging the gender pay gap for equal tasks performed to referral programs that make investments more attractive to females.

A study done in 2018 by the Ministry of Manpower and the National University of Singapore concluded that although there has been a positive move in the right direction, males still dominated senior roles. This spurred the adjustment by Citi Singapore to take more significant steps toward bridging the pay gap between male and female staff.

In January 2020, they reported that female employees earned 99 percent compared to their male peers. Various factors were considered during the bank’s global pay equity review. Salary adjustments were made considering key points such as job rank and function, geography and base salary and bonuses.

Jorge Osorio confirmed to Business Times that Citi’s global goals include having at least 40% females in senior roles. While the numbers have steadily increased year on year, he stated that they would need to do more to reach their ultimate goal of closing that gap.


Saxo Markets has also joined the fight towards closing the gender gap. In July 2021, the investment specialist launched a new referral programme called ‘Close the Gender Gap’. This programme motivates women to take ownership of their financial freedom and start investing.

According to the 2021 World Economic Forum report, it will take another 267 years to close the ‘Economic Participation and Opportunity’ gender gap to 100% from its current 58%. The report noted only a marginal improvement since the 2020 report was released.

Maria Jelen from Saxo Markets believes that they have the power to systematically close the gap by giving women the tools, knowledge, and confidence to make informed investment decisions. Closing the wage gap needs to be a collective effort between individuals and industry.

Jelen stated that Saxo saw a global increase of 354% in new female investors compared to 288% for males in 2020. Singapore saw a similar boost in new female clients of 410% for the year.

With the ‘Close the Gender Gap’ referral programme, existing female investors can earn up to SGD 750 by simply referring a female friend. Furthermore, they stand to earn extra bonuses like books, spa treatments, shopping vouchers and visits to attractions.

According to Saxo’s data, over 70% of their clients are male, which leaves much room for growth. Suzy Han Shiqi, the Deputy Head of Digital Sales from Saxo Markets Singapore, believes that women can solve the investment gap themselves by taking control of their financial futures.

Thanks to DBS’ time-hallowed dedication to gender equality in their workplace, they have once again been added to the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI) for the fifth consecutive year. The threshold for the 2022 GEI was higher than previous years, and companies had to score at or above the Global threshold to be included.

The GEI looks at tracking the performance of public companies that are transparent in gender-data reporting. Companies are measured against the following five pillars: female leadership and talent pipeline, equal pay and gender pay parity, pro-women brands, inclusive culture, and anti-sexual harassment policies.

DBS sets an example in the industry, with 50% of its workforce comprised of females and 40% of the senior management. They continuously work towards building an inclusive work environment apparent in their GEI inclusion.

A study done by Warwick business school studied 2,800 male and female investors over three years. They found that the women outperformed the FTSE 100 and received better returns than their male peers. So how can women take charge of their financial futures?

Firstly, according to Tan Siew Lee, OCBC’s Head of Wealth Management, women should take charge of their economic planning. Considering that women have a higher life expectancy, it makes sense that they should plan for their financial futures.

Here are some pointers from Ms. Tan on how women can achieve this:

●    Become aware of what’s going on in your finances and make sure to put something aside for unplanned expenses.

●    Be clear about what type of lifestyle you want and what it would take to get there.

●    Make a habit of tracking your expenses.

●    Invest available savings rather than keeping them in a deposit account.


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