The wealth management arm of Swiss bank UBS has announced plans to “refocus” its advisory services to serve women better, saying it wants to attract more female clients as a matter of “priority”.
UBS calculates that the global wealth of women is expected to grow from $13 trillion (CHF13 trillion) to $18 trillion by 2021, and that a more female-friendly strategy will be a “significant” opportunity to win new business. Over the next five years, it predicts the amount of private wealth controlled by women will grow 1.6 per cent faster year-on-year than that controlled by men.
Following two years of research, UBS Wealth Management has concluded that women want to be “served with a different dialogue that places greater focus on their aspirations as opposed to pure investment outcomes,” with “family” and “legacy” being two core areas.
As well as training its advisers to “deliver an even more holistic and value-focused view of wealth,” more of them could be female in the future – it has committed to increase the ratio of women in management roles from one quarter to one-third.
“I think if we have an idea that female wealth creation is increasing, it’s only logical that we recognise that [women] have very distinct needs,” said Olga Miller, managing director at UBS Wealth Management.
“[Women] are very busy – they are tackling a career and raising a family and children, so the [wealth manager] needs to be mindful that they’re very pressed for time.”
The wealth manager said women own about 30 per cent of the assets it currently advises on, but hopes to “significantly grow” this over the next five years. It declined to disclose its target.
The asset and wealth management industry has long been criticised for failing to engage with women, with various studies showing women are far less likely to invest and proactively manage their money than men.
Ms Miller added that the wealth manager was keen to “encourage women to deal with harder financial questions” and to “encourage financial dialogue early to get women accustomed to dealing with finances”.
UBS is not the first wealth manager to target female clients. Mayfair-based Killik & Co runs regular events for women in “tricky circumstances” such as divorce, separation or the death of their partner, which mean they need to take control of their own finances.
Nearly two-thirds of female investors have switched wealth managers due to unhappiness with the service they received, according to a report by Boston Consulting Group. The jargon-filled way the finance industry markets itself to potential investors has “alienated” women, according to a recent study by Britain Thinks, a market researcher.
UBS Wealth Management will also launch an education initiative aimed at increasing the financial confidence of women, plus a new advisory board of nine representatives from outside UBS to oversee its efforts to attract women.
According to UBS, women are more focused on investments that bring about social good. Ms Miller said the company was “forming a view” on whether it was necessary to launch new investment products to reflect women’s interest in ethical investing.
The bank said it expected women to invest $2.3 trillion in ethical causes by 2021.
Despite women’s wealth growing, men still dominate the UK’s Sunday Times Rich List, which tracks the UK’s wealthiest 1,000 individuals.
A record 125 women made last year’s list, but its compilers said “almost all of them are involved in ventures with their husbands or other family members, or have inherited their wealth”.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017