Have you ever thought about the idea that how you spend your money can make an impact on the world more broadly?
I recently spoke to Claire Costello, Managing Director of Philanthropic Solutions at Bank of America and Jackie VanderBrug, Head of Sustainable and Impact Investment Strategy in the Chief Investment Office for Merrill and Bank of America Private Bank, about their recent paper on how women give and invest their money in order to affect change.
In this paper, Costello and VanderBrug found that women generally want to use their money for good. I personally didn’t find this incredibly surprising, as most of the women I know and work with feel the same way, but this is an important finding. And that’s because whether we are aware of it or not, women have major financial power and opportunity to make an impact around the world.
Women Make 90% Of Household Financial Decisions
Whether they are single or partnered, women are making 90% of the financial decisions in American households. And this isn’t just related to buying groceries or financing home improvement, it also includes investment and philanthropic decisions. That means that women are making the vast majority of decisions when it comes to where their money is invested and which organizations or causes they support.
Women Will Hold Over $100 Trillion In Assets By 2025
Historically, women didn’t have access to money and power. We still have a long way to go before we reach parity, but we have come pretty far. In fact, according to this paper, women will hold $110 trillion in assets by 2025. That’s an enormous amount of capital. And there’s a lot of power involved in having access to that much capital.
A Vast Majority of Women Donate Their Money And Volunteer Their Time
According to the paper, up to 93% of women give to charity or volunteer, compared to 80% of men. This shows that the vast majority of women care about giving back, whether that is with their time or money.
To highlight this point even more, the paper found that 46.7% of woman donors give to causes that support women and girls, compared to 37.1% of men. That means that the more women who are donating money to causes, the more women and girls will be supported around the world. VanderBrug said, “I believe we get the future we invest in.” My takeaway from this statistic is that the more we invest in women and girls, the better off we’ll all be.
Women Reinvest 90% Of Their Income Back Into Their Families
According to Costello, women tend to reinvest more than 90% of their assets and earnings back into their families for nutrition, education, healthcare, and more. In contrast, men only reinvest 44% of their income back into their families. These findings suggest that women recognize that reinvesting back into the family creates more sustainability not only within the family unit, but within the community and society at large.
Women View Investing From A Goal Perspective
According to VanderBrug, one of the most interesting findings of this paper is that women approach investing with their own goals in mind. It isn’t just about playing the investing game, but it’s about how building their wealth can “lead a broader set of goals for their family, philanthropically, and for the world.” Costello agreed, saying, “women by and large tend to see aggregation of wealth as a means to articulate their value set. This unleashes a powerful force of public good and public benefit.”
My main takeaway from this paper is that women are more altruistic and generous with their money overall, and this fact is a force for good in an often difficult world.
If you’re a woman who is already investing, but you haven’t prioritized investing in causes and companies that you believe in, that’s okay. VanderBrug recommends that you “get started. Most investors do this over a number of years. Have a conversation with your advisor and talk through your interests in terms of themes or avoiding certain areas.”
If you want to make sure that your investments are supporting companies and causes that you care most about, you can also talk to your financial advisor about switching to ESG investing. ESG investing, which stands for Environmental, Social and Governance, refers to a class of investing that seeks positive returns and long-term impact on society, environment, and the performance of the business. You can grow your wealth and prepare for your future while still making a positive impact on the world.
This piece was originally published on my ForbesWomen column.
Certified Financial Education Instructor. Feminist and financial coach for women. Founder of Money Circle.