Hold onto your hats, because we’re about to dive into a financial crisis that’s been hiding in plain sight: the women’s financial confidence gap – a gap so wide it’s leaving women feeling powerless when it comes to their money, writes Lydia Hinchliff, Senior Performance Strategist at Journey Further.

While some companies in the sector, like HSBC with their ‘Cutting the Strings of Financial Control’ campaign, have attempted to tackle this issue, it’s clear that we need to do more. We’re not just talking about raising awareness of financial abuse here, we’re talking about empowering women to take control of their own financial futures.

It’s time to break down the barriers that have been holding women back and give them the tools they need to succeed. Especially when it comes to pensions, savings and investments, the industry needs to step up and give women the positive messaging and support they deserve. It’s time to stop making this topic a footnote in a white paper about the cost of living crisis and start taking action to close the women’s financial confidence gap once and for all.

As a strategist, this topic is close to my heart: marketing to address the women’s financial confidence gap. We’ve identified 5 key shifts that financial brands and institutions can make to not only start tackling this issue head on, but also tap into a huge market of opportunity.

So, why should brands take action?

The cost of living crisis is is widening the gap even further and is evident in the divergent consumer responses to budgeting.

(Source Kantar 2023)

This trend reflects the enduring gender inequalities in many households, with women shouldering more of the responsibility for household tasks such as food shopping meaning they are more likely to be hyper aware of the price hikes on daily essentials. Even having your period has become more expensive during the cost of living crisis with an average 10% rise.

Undoubtedly, the gender pay gap is also a major contributor to this problem. Women still earn less than men, according to the office of national statistics the figure is 8.3% across full time workers. Data from the ONS indicates women are 3X more likely to work part time, most likely as a result of caring responsibilities, reducing earnings further. Resulting in women being 35% more likely needing to use buy now pay later to manage their finances.

Women aren’t being empowered to take control of their finances

This vulnerability can further fuel anxiety among women, leading to more significant shifts in their behaviour. Recent research from the Mintel Report Managing Household Finances UK (2022) confirms that women are less likely to enjoy managing household finances, indicating a lack of confidence in this domain. They are 33% more likely to feel that ownership of stocks and shares is too risky an investment for them. (Kantar)

It’s not a huge leap to suggest that where women are impacted at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder who are struggling to live within their financial constraints, that same lack of confidence is holding women back from truly maximising their financial potential and achieving long-term wealth growth.

When women don’t feel empowered to take control of their finances, they may miss out on crucial opportunities for savings, investment, and retirement planning. This not only has an impact on their individual financial outcomes, but also on the broader economic landscape.

So what can we do to address this issue?

  1. It starts with acknowledging the very real consequences of the women’s financial confidence gap and committing to real action. By empowering women to take control of their finances and providing the resources and support they need, we can help to close this gap and unleash the full potential of women’s financial power. It’s time to step up and make a real difference.

  2. Provide Financial Education: Banking and financial institutions can provide financial education to women through various media channels. This can include educational videos, podcasts, webinars, and articles that simplify complex financial concepts and help women make informed decisions.

  3. Address Women’s Unique Financial Needs: Banking and financial institutions must address women’s unique financial needs through targeted media messaging. For example, women tend to live longer than men, which means they need more retirement savings. By addressing these specific needs, banking and financial institutions can build trust with female customers and empower them to take control of their finances.

  4. Use Empowering Messaging: Banking and financial institutions can use empowering messaging that emphasises women’s financial independence and ability to manage their own finances. This messaging can include real-life success stories of women who have taken control of their finances and achieved financial security.

  5. Collaborate with Women’s Groups: Banking and financial institutions can collaborate with women’s groups to co-create media content that addresses the gender financial confidence gap. This collaboration can ensure that the content is relevant and resonates with female customers.

By focusing on the needs and concerns of women, brands can tap into a huge, underserved market and establish themselves as leaders in this space. And let’s not forget the importance of building trust – by demonstrating a genuine commitment to helping women take control of their financial futures, brands can create a lasting relationship with this valuable demographic.

Let’s tackle the issue of the women’s financial confidence gap head-on, but also take time to recognize the enormous potential for growth and differentiation in this space. By doing so, financial brands can establish themselves as true champions of women’s financial empowerment and reap the rewards that come with it.