Over the past year there has been a particular focus on women in investing, as well as women in the workplace and economy. As many will know, I'm a huge advocate of this initiative. We’ve recently launched a new LinkedIn group all about this, with the key focus to bring together like-minded women with an interest in investing, particularly those who want to see their investments make an impact and have a real difference to the lives of others.
One of the reasons I’m so determined is despite owning 48% of the nation's wealth, and many women becoming increasingly involved in senior level roles within organisation, we still have far too few women engaging in the opportunity to commit both finance and knowledge to support the growth and development of small businesses, as well as supporting other women entrepreneurs.
As we’ve talked about before, on average, women in the UK have in the region of £24,800 of investable assets and savings (excluding property and pensions). This translates to a huge £375bn nationally.
But despite this, research has shown women aren’t investing money anywhere near to the levels of their male counterparts. They have the available finances, but they’re holding them in cash. Very few are investing in stocks and shares for example.
Importantly, it isn’t just me talking about this topic and on Tuesday this week I was delighted to attend the second ‘women in angel investing’ forum, hosted by the UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA). Having a real focus on the key drivers and barriers affecting women in their approach to investing, the forum brought together a panel of women angel investors who shared their insights on their approach to angel investing, what their motivations are and the types of businesses they prefer to back.
With CEO Jenny Tooth speaking about the UKBAA’s research on women in angel investing, Jenny explained how they’re looking at how we can encourage more women to invest, increase visibility in this space, and participate in backing and supporting female entrepreneurs.
There was a huge amount of information discussed, but some of the key takeaway points for me were:
- The people behind the company looking for investment are key - the team, the passion, the drive. It was unanimously agreed this was an absolutely critical part of the process when women are determining which companies to invest in.
- They company needs to be making an impact - women are very much focused on how companies can make a difference, be that environmental, societal or economically. However, there needs to be a key focus on growth, too. Can the business make an impact and scale?
- Women want to add value and make an impact themselves - not only are women more likely to invest in impact-driven investment opportunities, but many prefer to be involved themselves and make an impact on their business themselves.
- The tax efficient investing options are enticing - the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) offer some of the most generous tax reliefs to UK investors, and they can be particularly appealing when looking to mitigate risk.
- Women are more risk averse - directly linked to the above, generally speaking women are much more cautious with their finances and therefore their investments. If they’re to invest in something that can be classed as a higher risk/higher return strategy, there needs to be a strong reason for them to do so.
- There’s a distinct need for more initiatives to get involved in angel investing - we know women can invest and do invest, but it’s only a small fraction of women in the UK. We need to do more to directly encourage women to become angel investors. This is something the UKBAA are doing by putting a focus on diversifying angel groups for wider inclusion.
Becoming an angel investor
There’s something particularly fantastic about being an angel investor. Most typically possess at least two amazing skills that can’t be bought - expertise and experience, both of which can help an early stage business immensely. Plus, by becoming an early-stage business, angel investors can significantly enhance both the human capital and the social capital.
As an active female investor, I'm extremely passionate about encouraging more females to invest, and the latest programme of events by UKBAA, held to support more women in investing, is extremely encouraging.
I’m sure many women will find these type of events useful and valuable, and hopefully if they aren't doing so already, they will want to start engaging with angel investing going forward, and also support more female entrepreneurs in the economy. With many corporate organisations and associations also supporting these initiatives, I’m certain we’ll see more and more of events focused on women in investing over the coming months.