The report, The Changing Faces of Women’s Wealth, surveyed high-net-worth women in Hong Kong, Singapore and mainland China, and is presented in Asia in partnership with Front & Female

“If women hold up half the sky, then they should also hold up half of wealth,” said Angelina A. Kwan, CEO of Stratford Finance, vice-chair of The Women’s Foundation, and The WealthiHer Network ambassador, when she presented the key findings of The Changing Faces of Women’s Wealth (2020-2022), a report carried out by The WealthiHer Network and co-presented in partnership with Front & Female in Asia, at an event in Hong Kong recently.

Currently, women hold only a third (32 percent) of the world’s wealth. It's a figure included in The WealthiHer Network report, which delivers a new perspective and agenda for change.

The WealthiHer Network, which is based out of the UK, aims to advance women by transforming female financial futures and the financial services industry by leveraging the power of research to understand what wealth and success means, what motivates women and holds them back and where new opportunities lie to progress their prosperity. They seek to empower and equip women with the knowledge needed to prosper now and in the future.

The Changing Faces of Women’s Wealth report is based on surveys from 2020 and 2021 of high-net-worth women Hong Kong, Singapore and Mainland China, supplemented by one-one interviews and additional research, to explore the attitudes and behaviours of these women towards their wealth with the aim to make actions for change to close the financial gaps and barriers women face.

A key partner of The WealthiHer Network is HSBC Global Private Banking, who are keen to better serve and enable female clients. "Together with our partner WealthiHer, we are delighted to celebrate the growing financial confidence of women in Asia as they become increasingly influential and impactful in the region. HSBC is committed to empowering women to drive change through their businesses, investments and advocacies," says Annabel Spring, chief executive officer of Global Private Banking & Wealth at HSBC. 

Below are the key findings of the report:

Women are a valuable force

Women are adding more to global wealth than any other single group with Asia, excluding Japan, growing faster than any other region. Currently, 32 percent of the world’s wealth is held by women, but this is growing at an annual growth rate of 10 percent with estimates that by 2023, women’s wealth will grow to US$93 trillion. Of this global female wealth, 40 percent of it is in Asia.

A number of factors are driving female wealth

The primary driver of female wealth is financial autonomy. Additional drivers include education—globally women are better educated than previously, with women under 38 the best educated of any generation that came before them; shared wealth—5.5 percent of the world’s wealth is held in super rich households with household wealth shared more equally; living longer—women are living nearly 8.4 percent longer than men, and so are inheriting more. A tenth of women’s wealth from all markets surveyed came from inheritance—both parents and spouses.

Careers are a driver too, with 98 percent of women surveyed in professional careers, including 29% in senior management positions globally. Almost all women between 22 and 38 are in professional careers, a jump of 20% from their grandmothers. This allows them to earn a greater share of their own wealth than was possible for young women of previous generations, giving them control over their economic advancement. There has also been a rise in female entrepreneurship and business success with 1 in 3 businesses owned by women globally as women take their careers into their own hands.

Economic gaps between men and women persist

Despite the rise of women’s wealth, a number of economic gaps remain between genders. Take the funding gap for female founders—just 2 percent of global venture capital funding goes to female founders. There’s also a significant long-term investment gap, with women losing US$1 million over their lifetime through a lack of long-term investing. In part, this is to do with a financial confidence gap with women’s long-term financial confidence less than men’s. Additionally, the gender pay gap continues to persist—in Hong Kong, Singapore and China, there is a gender pay gap of 20 percent.

These gaps have been accentuated by the global pandemic—the Covid crisis cost women around the world $800 billion. Tiffany Pham, Founder of Mogul, whose mission is to help women fulfill their potential and to diversify recruitment, is quoted in the report as saying, “People around the world recognise that gender equality is an issue of our time. And that is an issue that has been (made) more urgent by Covid.”

The meaning of wealth for women is different

Serial entrepreneur Kathy Gong from mainland China commented on the meaning of wealth and success for the report: “My personal drive has always been to make money to make it possible for me to protect and take care of my family and my teammates in sickness and in health.”

For 49 percent of Asian women, wealth means health; for 42 percent, wealth is the freedom to live how I want; and for 24 percent wealth means happiness.

When asked about the meaning of success, 51 percent of women believe that a thriving career is the greatest indicator, while 46 percent are of the opinion that making a difference to the community is what’s most important. For 29 percent of Asian women, success means helping their children to achieve their ambitions.

Women are a force for good

Women want to invest in, build and support business that are sustainable and socially responsible, more so than men. They also want to give back to their wider communities. For 75 percent of women, investing responsibly is more important than returns, an increase of 3 percent across Asia, while 68 percent want to invest in businesses that are sustainable and socially responsible. Interestingly, 98 percent of women in China believe the most important considerations when investing relate to a company’s environmental practices and positive impact on communities; that figure is 61 percent for Singapore and 47 percent for Hong Kong. Additionally, 53 percent of women want to share their time, be a role model and give back to their communities. When it comes to philanthropy, 63 percent of women say that behaving philanthropically is important against just 56 percent of men and all the women surveyed give regular donations to charities. So, unlocking female wealth is to the benefit of everyone.

To access an excerpt from the women’s wealth in Hong Kong, Singapore and Mainland China 2020-2022 report, visit The WealthiHer Network.

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