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Wealthy women require tailored digital wealth management, says new research

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Digital wealth management offerings must specifically address the needs of female clients, which differ in many important aspects from those of male high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs).

This is a main finding of a new report, ‘What Women Expect from Digital Wealth Management – Survey Data from the US, the UK, Germany, France and Switzerland’, by Swiss research company MyPrivateBanking, which explores wealthy women’s attitudes toward and preferences for digital technology to manage their finances. The research is based on a panel survey in five key wealth management markets – the US, the UK, France, Germany, and Switzerland.
 
The research reveals that women use the desktop computer (76 per cent of female HNWIs surveyed) and the smartphone (75 per cent) most frequently when it comes to managing their finances. Moreover, women clearly lead the demand for smart speakers: 16 per cent state that they are using such a device for their financial devices while only 13 per cent of the men do so.
 
Interestingly, men seem to have a greater preference for desktop computers (84 per cent) than women. Most women in the survey (69 per cent) claim they use their wealth manager’s apps, but overall they are very concerned about privacy (52 per cent) and security (34 per cent).
 
Checking accounts and transaction history and making bill payments tops the feature list for female HNWI and affluent clients with 2.31 and 2.03 respectively (on a scale from 0 meaning ‘never’ to 3 meaning ‘often’). The third most popular feature for women allows them to download and read statements and other documents (1.81). These basic features are closely followed by personal financial management functions such as analysing their spending behaviour (1.72) and tracking their financial goals (1.57).
 
Some 46 per cent of the female respondents state that they have never heard about robo-advisors. This share is substantially lower for men (36 per cent). Fifteen per cent of men even claim that they know quite a lot about these concepts, compared to only 10 per cent of women. Again, the share of women who have at least heard or read about robo-advisors is higher among the millennial respondents (58 per cent) and among the wealthiest with more than USD1 million of investable assets (70 per cent).
 
The report takes a closer look at each country’s female sample, and while it could not identify countries with particularly low or high gender gaps, the results vary when focusing on different topics.
 
US women prefer smartphones over a desktop computer and they clearly favour iOS devices. Some 68 per cent of them use their wealth manager’s apps, the most frequently used features being checking their accounts and transaction history, bill payments, and analysing their spending behaviour. Only 51 per cent have at least heard about robo-advisors and only 28 per cent of them state they are already using such a service.
 
UK women (70 per cent) mainly use their wealth manager’s apps for analysing their spending behaviour, checking their accounts and transaction history, and for P2P payments. UK women constitute the largest segment that has at least heard about robo-advisors (65 per cent) and 33 per cent of them already use such a tool.
 
French women know a relatively good amount about robo-advisors, as 64 per cent state they have at least heard about these tools. Many (55 per cent) of the French female sample already invest with a robo platform.
 
German women prefer using a desktop computer (76 per cent) for their financial matters, followed by smartphones (68 per cent) and tablets (56 per cent). Only 52 per cent of the female respondents in Germany have at least heard about robo-advisors and only 21 per cent of those actually use them already.
 
Swiss women clearly favour desktop computers (82 per cent) over other devices. The Swiss female sample know by far the least about robo-advisors (38 per cent have at least heard about them) but the ones who know at least something about these tools are very open: 70 per cent say that they could imagine using a robo-advisor in the future.
 
MyPrivateBanking draws four key conclusions for wealth managers to win their female clients’ hearts.
 
Firstly, wealth managers have to make sure to cover their female clients’ digital ecosystem. Women – more so than men – prefer to use their mobile devices over a desktop. Wealth managers should make sure to offer well-designed presences and interfaces for each of these device types.
 
Secondly, they should offer of the full range of communication points. Women have a substantial demand for new forms of digital communication tools such as messengers, chat, and social media, so they must not be neglected. MyPrivateBanking found significant interest in these options particularly among the youngest and wealthiest women, which is something that wealth managers need to address.
 
Thirdly, they should actively communicate security measures to build trust. Privacy and security concerns turn out to be the top reasons why a significant minority of women decline to use their wealth manager’s apps (52 per cent and 34 per cent respectively). The message for wealth managers is clear: put strong efforts into the security systems and promote these efforts effectively to build trust and convince women that it is safe to use these tools.
 
And finally, they should provide relevant and easy-to-use apps and websites. Women use their wealth manager’s apps mainly for analysing their spending behaviour and tracking their financial goals. Wealth managers might think that these features are too retail-oriented to be part of a wealth app, but actually, the wealthiest panel segment with more than USD1 million of investable assets has an even greater demand for these features.

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