Why Financial Literacy is an Under-rated Barrier to Female Empowerment

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By Natalie Pringle, CMO and Hong Kong Chief Ambassador of The New Savvy

The movement facilitating the empowerment of women is well underway. We are well-versed in sitting at the boardroom table, leaning in, shattering the glass ceiling and balancing domestic responsibilities. The financial empowerment of women, however, is an area which has until very recently been significantly overlooked. The consequences are far-reaching and have the potential to be completely debilitating.

Women are being empowered and encouraged to take control in so many critical areas. Now that we are in a position where we are earning more and progressing in all areas of career and business, we need financial advice and literature more than ever which really speak to us, for this is what will really allow us to make lasting changes individually and for generations to come.

Why is financial literacy important?

Despite making significant career advances and narrowing the pay gap, many women still lack confidence when it comes to financial matters. Financial literacy is perceived to be a daunting subject with many of the media outlets being aimed at men, using a lot of technical and financial industry jargon which does not make this information readily accessible to a number of women.

It is clear that women and men have fundamentally different financial needs and it is crucial that we women take care of and protect ourselves against unfortunate circumstances. We find that women are increasingly seeking authentic advice which addresses our unique struggles so that we are best prepared to deal with various life events.

Studies have shown that 41% of women are intimidated by finance and do not invest as information available to them can be complex, technical and often exasperating. It is clear, however, that women can be empowered through financial knowledge which is presented in language which makes it easier to understand the subject.

The importance of providing financial education for women as we move through our careers and lives is therefore crucial for women to be in control. While many women desire to be more active in managing their finances, it is paramount that all women, regardless of occupation, income levels, lifestyle or life stages should learn to empower themselves financially. Being financially astute not only allows women to have more control throughout all stages of their lives but also brings security that can inevitably boost their self-esteem and confidence to have a greater benefit to their overall wellbeing.

Despite the lack of female-focused financial literacy, there is absolutely no reason why women should not be more engaged with their financial futures. Research has shown that women tend to be better investors and consistently outperform men in returns. Women are typically more patient and tend to trade less, incurring less transaction costs, and we generally do not monitor our investments daily. As female investors tend to be more risk-averse, we tend to have a more diversified portfolio and shy away from high-risk investments. Women also research more and take more advice from financial advisors.

The women’s empowerment movement is underway and is showing no sign of slowing down. While most of us have very clear career objectives and goals we want to achieve in life, now is the time to focus on where we want to be financially and to empower women to take control of their finances and their futures.

Professional development and financial literacy

We often ask “what would you do if you were not afraid to fail” but how often do we ask ourselves what could we do if we were financially secure?

It is all too common that our finances control what we do and fear of instability can often lead to bad decisions. Taking control of our financial situation shapes the decisions we make and more importantly the decisions we are able to take.

By becoming more financially aware, we gain more independence and take greater control when faced with the important decisions we need to make at various stages in our lives both personally and professionally. Financially empowered women have greater flexibility over their career choices and the types of roles they take. They can explore opportunities to start new businesses, give their time to not-for-profit organizations or take a career break to explore passions and learn a new skill. All of these options can become possible if we have made provisions that give us the security and flexibility to make decisions based on what we are most passionate about and where our skills are strongest.

When women are fully in control of our own destiny and have the opportunities to realize our passions, we are able to bring our best selves to the table and have the confidence and experience to be better leaders in all areas. Once we have carefully planned for life events such as marriage, divorce, children and retirement we are better placed to pursue our dreams rather than being trapped or letting our decisions be dictated by our finances.

Natalie Pringle is the CMO and Hong Kong Chief Ambassador of The New Savvy, Asia’s leading financial investments and career platform for women based in Singapore. She was relocated to Hong Kong from London in 2015 to establish the International division of a rapidly expanding Real Estate company which perfectly combined her interests in property, investment and growing new businesses.

With a degree in Law and a love for public speaking, Natalie has always been developing her knowledge and understanding of business as well as supporting and empowering those around her to push the boundaries of their capabilities and to become their best selves. She believes very strongly in the importance of women being financially independent and having the resources to make informed decisions both personally and professionally.