Spotlight: Gender Equity Gap


AJ Bell's Money Matters survey reveals a significant financial disparity between men and women. The survey highlights that men possess £1.65 trillion more in total savings and investments when considering various assets like cash savings, pensions, and investment accounts. (See chart below for the proportion of adults that hold each type of account). The survey particularly emphasizes the substantial gap in pensions and investments, where women's average pension savings are 35% lower than men's, amounting to a £1.26 trillion gap. So why is the gap so big? Common reasons which contribute to women being poorer than men include career breaks to have children, part-time employment surrounding childcare responsibilities and the persisting gender pay gap. Additionally, differing attitudes towards risk play a crucial role. A notable 71% of women express a preference for avoiding risks, even if it means receiving lower rewards in the future. This risk-averse stance potentially hinders women from capitalizing on the wealth-generating opportunities that, say equities, can offer over extended periods.


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The survey reveals that there are certain steps which can be taken to help close the gender investment gap. Advanced planning ahead of an anticipated career break can go a long way i.e. exploring options like increasing voluntary contributions beyond the mandatory 3% from your employer in workplace pensions and considering salary sacrifice schemes offered by employers to be used to top up your pension. Locating any lost pensions from past employments and consolidating them into a single pot can help with on-going monitoring. Acknowledging women's inclination towards risk aversion, there is a balance to be struck between caution and suitable risk-taking in order to foster wealth creation – understanding the long-term dynamics of financial markets is a crucial part of this. Maximizing government childcare-related benefits for those that are eligible can free up finances for investment. The survey also highlights that women tend to deal with childcare costs alone which further exacerbates the gap.
 
The WTW Wealth Equity Index developed in collaboration with the World Economic Forum takes a holistic view of gender inequities across women’s lifetimes and quantifies the gender wealth gap between men and women at retirement. The index verifies that women are at considerable disadvantage in the accumulation of wealth by the end of their career. Moreover, there is a significant variation of gender wealth equity globally by region and market, influenced in part by diversity of cultures, traditions, relative prosperity and social equality.

 

The noise

  • Britain’s labour market remains tight, despite a fall in job postings by employers over the course of 2023 and broader weakness in the economy, according to data from recruitment platform Indeed. At the start of December last year, there were 48% more job postings on Indeed than prior to the Covid pandemic. But as of December 1st this year, postings are only 10% higher. Though the UK economy will enter 2024 facing considerable economic headwinds, the labour market shows continued resilience with the imbalance of labour demand and supply only gradually easing.

  • ‚ÄčThe downturn in euro zone business activity eased last month, though Tuesday’s Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for November indicated the economy is on track to continue its contraction from the third quarter into Q4. The euro zone’s dominant sector, the services sector improved slightly in November per the PMI survey, but it continues to struggle to generate demand and does not look a likely candidate for a swift recovery in the coming months.  

  • Microsoft has inked a deal to buy 1.5 million carbon removal credits from Mombak, a startup focused on reforesting degraded land in the Amazon rainforest. This is a significant move towards carbon neutrality for the American tech giant, which is aiming to become carbon negative by 2030. The purchase of 1.5 million carbon removal credits will lead to more than 30 million native trees  being planted, across an area five times the size of Manhattan. The deal will use cloud technology, machine learning, and drones to identify the most suitable locations for planting new trees.

The numbers

GBP Performance to 07/12/2023

Equity GBP Total Return

1 Week

YTD

MSCI ACWI

0.4%

12.7%

MSCI USA

0.6%

16.5%

MSCI Europe

0.5%

10.0%

MSCI UK

0.2%

4.9%

MSCI Japan

2.0%

12.7%

MSCI Asia Pacific ex Japan

-1.5%

-3.1%

MSCI Emerging Market

-1.6%

-0.3%

MSCI EAFE Index

0.8%

9.0%

Fixed income GBP Total Return

 

UK Government

1.8%

-0.3%

Global Aggregate GBP Hedged

1.2%

4.2%

Global Treasury GBP Hedged

1.1%

4.0%

Global IG GBP Hedged

1.4%

5.6%

Global High Yield GBP hedged

1.0%

9.6%

Currency moves

 

 

GBP vs USD

-0.2%

4.2%

GBP vs EUR

0.6%

3.3%

GBP vs JPY

-3.0%

14.5%

Commodities GBP return

 

Gold

-0.1%

6.8%

Oil

-8.6%

-13.3%

Source: Bloomberg, data as at 07/12/2023

 

The nuance

The world’s two biggest oil exporters, Saudi Arabia and Russia have called on OPEC+ members to join an OPEC agreement to further cut oil supply in a move that they think will be “for the good of the global economy”. The agreement made last week will look to cut output by a combined 2.2 million barrels per day for the first quarter of next year. OPEC+, a coalition including OPEC (The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) and 10 of the world’s major non-OPEC oil exporting nations account for more than 40% of the world oil production. The call to action from OPEC+’s leading members comes as both Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian president Vladimir Putin want and need high prices for oil. It is the lifeblood of their economies, and they’re adamant to stop a fall in oil prices that is headed for a seventh straight weekly decline.

Following the decision to cut output last week, oil prices fell to a five-month low, a clear sign that the market had expected more forthright action from OPEC+. A global supply surplus remains, with record high US production and weak Chinese demand making a recovery in prices more difficult. The latest OPEC meeting came as the COP28 UN climate conference kicked off last week, which has already seen the agreement of a loss and damage fund. Such significant agreements are not commonly struck so early in proceedings, though it is only a piece in the puzzle that is helping cope with the effects of climate change.



All investment views are presented for information only and are not a personal recommendation to buy or sell. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns, investing involves risk and the value of investments, and the income from them, may fall as well as rise and are not guaranteed. Investors may not get back the original amount invested.

Any views expressed are based on information received from a variety of sources which we believe to be reliable, but are not guaranteed as to accuracy or completeness by atomos. Any expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice.

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