Wealth management

Female billionaires more cautionary in their investment strategies than male counterparts: UBS

Key wealth management needs of female billionaires: more conservative, longer-term views, more likely to invest in ways of preserving wealth for offspring

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 November, 2017, 6:21pm
UPDATED : Monday, 13 November, 2017, 11:02pm

The increased number of female billionaires around the world has prompted Swiss lender UBS to launch a specially tailored service for high-net-worth women clients, after finding the fairer sex has developed some very different investment approaches than their male counterparts.

Its new service “UBS Unique” will be rolled out over the next five years. It was officially launched in Hong Kong on Monday after being introduced earlier to wealthy female customers in Singapore and Japan.

UBS is planning in-house training and workshops in the subject, and the Unique concept will evolve as its wealth managers get to understand more exactly what distinctive services female customers might need in future.

“Our research has shown men and women have different approaches when it comes to investment strategies and risk appetite, hence the creation of Unique,” said Marina Lui, who will head the initiative as part of UBS’ Wealth Management division in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Male customers are usually more willing to take higher risks in the hope of higher returns, while female customers are more conservative in their choices, also taking longer-term views.

“They are also more likely to invest in ways which preserve wealth for their offspring, while the overriding focus for males is investing for higher instant returns,” she said.

That altogether-more-cautionary approach is nicely illustrated by UBS figures which show 10 per cent of its female clients in the great China region have bought life insurance policies, against just 5 per cent of males.

Female customers also put more emphasis on social responsibility-related considerations in picking their investment choices.

UBS research, based on female clients only, showed they planned to invest some US$2.3 trillion in investments linked in some way to social causes over the next four years.

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Lui added there had been a dramatic shift, too, in the traditions behind individual investment.

In the past, many investment bank services were slewed heavily in favour of male customers with many women allowing their husbands or fathers to handle their financial affairs.

But now she said women are infinitely more financially independent, after a surge in the number of them not only going into the financial services industry, but also those striking out as entrepreneurs.

The number of Asia billionaires has grown 8.3 times in the past decade, compared with 2.7 times in Europe and 1.7 times in the US.

According to last year’s Global Wealth by the Boston Consulting Group, women held 30 per cent of global private wealth in 2015, and this is expected to grow by around 7 per cent annually.

Nowadays women can also expect to inherit equal amounts of wealth in the event of a parent’s death – another break from tradition in many markets where male family members were often favoured – creating more mega-wealthy females.