By Nicola Field,
, November 2007
Women are showing serious financial flair. The latest share ownership report from the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) puts women virtually on level pegging with men when it comes to getting a piece of sharemarket spoils.
According to the ASX study, around 40% of men own shares directly only marginally ahead of women at 37%. This result marks a significant long-term increase in sharemarket investing among women. In 1997, just 18% of women owned shares directly.
This trend goes a long way to dispelling the misconception that women are conservative investors, and it's backed up by a 2005 Merrill Lynch study that concluded that women are likely to make fewer investment mistakes than men, including allocating too much to a single investment or acting on an unsubstantiated "hot tip".
Despite women often having the ideal attributes for sharemarket investing, Susan Jackson of the financial planning group Women's Financial Network believes women tend to be held back from direct share investing due to a lack of both time and confidence.
"A lot of women would like to own shares directly, but are concerned about being able to find the time to manage their portfolio," she says.
And while Jackson says women may be anxious about choosing "the wrong shares", she says there is very little difference between the sexes when it comes to stock selection. However, she adds: "Women are often more likely than men to avoid a particular stock based on ethical principles."
Nonetheless, women have proven a resourceful bunch and have created a solution to the time and confidence issues investment clubs. "Around 90% of investment clubs in the USA are run by women," Jackson says. "And there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that the same level of female membership here in Australia."
These clubs put the fun into finance and, according to Jackson, "They let women create an environment where they can start talking about money and not have to make an investment decision in isolation."
After 18 years in the money business, Jackson has advised plenty of women on how to kick-start an investment club, and she says membership tends to be "a real slice and dice of the population, encompassing a wide variety of women young and old, married and single".
Certainly, investment clubs let women share more than funds knowledge, information and experience are also pooled. But there's also a serious side: members will need to determine how investment decisions will be made possibly with the all-important rule of no finger-pointing if a particular share nose dives.
Whether you're comfortable investing in shares alone, or you'd like to join some mates in combining education, entertainment and earnings, there is no shortage of information on getting started. www.womensfinancialnetwork.com.au
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