According to the World Economic forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, the world has seen only slight improvement in equality for women in the workplace in the past eight years. As a woman in finance in Latin America, I will be attending the WEF in Mexico, where we will discuss these implications and how to solve this problem.
This issue is especially important to me. My mother is in her mid-sixties, and hopes to someday retire. Unfortunately, she started saving and investing for retirement much later than she should have; she was 47 when I stepped in to help guide her in building her nest egg. I know she’s not alone in this. BlackRock’s latest Global Investor Pulse Survey found that in Latin America, 70% of men and 64% of women are saving for retirement – a gap of 6%.
Employment and wage disparities have a lot to do with this inequality, but so does a lack of knowledge about investing. 47% of Latin American women surveyed said they are the primary financial decision maker at home, compared to 57% of Latin American men. 63% of women said they enjoy managing investments, compared to 68% of men, and fewer women feel comfortable investing in the stock market.
Knowing this, and experiencing the implications of starting to save later in life first hand through my mother, I am adamant about speaking to my younger female colleagues on a regular basis about their savings, asking them if they’re prepared. I tell them that it’s so important to start saving in their 20s, as even a small amount can make a big difference over time. It also gets them into the mindset of saving, so it becomes a habit later in their careers.
An encouraging point is that most of the younger women I talk to at work and elsewhere are enthusiastic about taking ownership of their finances and understand the value of saving early. The survey results reflect this as well, as 75% of Latin American women say they’re interested in learning more about investments. It also seems that the financial industry is taking larger strides towards accommodating more female investors, as there are certainly more women in my office here in Mexico than there used to be. In fact, we recently launched the BlackRock Women’s Forum where we gather leaders in the industry to further discuss financial education and empowerment for women.
My colleague Heather Pelant has some tips for setting smart investing goals, including: becoming engaged with your money through education, making retirement a priority and planning and seeking advice. You can also learn more about BlackRock’s Global Investor Pulse Survey results here.
Samantha Ricciardi, BlackRock Country Head of Mexico and a member of BlackRock’s Latin America and Iberia Regional Executive Committee, wrote this post for The Blog. She is also Head of BlackRock’s Women’s Initiative (WIN) for Latin America and Iberia.