With the appointment of SEBI's first female chief the quote by activist Zainab Salbi- "Stronger women build stronger nations" rings out loud. But, the overall contribution and participation of women in financial decision making still needs a big push. We have always believed that women save a lot but the data says otherwise! 78% of women, as per a survey by LXME, women's only financial planning platform and Axis My India, save less than 20% of their income. Financial planning is not often a priority for most women leaving it mostly to the male members of the family. 56% save less than 10% of their income. 60% of the women surveyed keep their savings in a bank account, followed by 33% who keep their money at home for emergency use. The survey, however, notices a rise in investment pattern in the young generation as 21-25-year-olds take their steps towards investment.

A shocking 55% of women are either not investing or are clueless about their investments, says the survey. Out of women who invest with assistance, 76% of them have taken assistance from their partners. As per Kuvera.in, an investment platform, the average age of investors gender-wise shows a gap as well. It takes more time for women to reach an age when they can start investing. The average age of women investors gender-wise, stood at 37, compared with 33 for men. The median age of women is 34 years, while for men it is 31 years.

A majority of women invest only 6-10% of their income. Female investors are clearly shying away from market-based investments and financial assets with more investments skewed towards rather traditional investment options. Gold and bank fixed deposits were the top investment instruments of choice followed by Public Provident Fund (PPF) and traditional instruments like chit funds. Amongst those who are investing, 42% go for gold, followed by 35% in bank FDs, 23% in PPF, chit funds (17%), mutual funds (14%), recurring deposits (13%), real estate (11%), direct stocks (10%), National Pension Scheme (NPS) (8%), digital gold (6%), cryptocurrencies (4%), commodities (3%) and bond market (2%).

While women lag behind as an investor, female participation is highly under-represented among the fund managers as well. Of the 399 fund managers in the mutual funds industry, only 32 are women, who are managing funds either as primary or secondary managers or have oversight as heads of equity or debt, shows a Morningstar report. The total count of women fund managers has increased from 30 last year to 32 now. "Interestingly, the total number of fund managers saw a healthy increase this year up from 376 managers seen last year. With a meager 8% representation of women in the field," says the report.

The 32 women fund managers manage a total of ₹4.55 lakh crore of open and close end assets, which is 12% of the total mutual fund assets. Total assets under management for open and close ended funds stood at ₹38,01,210 crore as on January 31, 2022. The Morningstar report shows some interesting bright spots in terms of performance of the women fund managers. Of the total open-ended assets managed by women fund managers, 69% of the AUM outperformed the peer group average on a one-year basis, 96% of the AUM outperformed on a three-year basis and 69% of the AUM outperformed on a five-year basis.

The newest asset class, cryptocurrency, too witnessed a wide gender gap. As per CoinDCX, which claims to be the country's first crypto unicorn, the male-to-female investor ratio on their platform stood at 85:15 in 2021.

Surprisingly, women in Tier II cities are ahead of those in Tier I cities when it comes to participation in financial investing. In the crypto space, as per Coin DCX, the women user base includes 65% from Tier II cities. The LXME survey reflects similar behaviour. 51% of women in non-metros are making better informed investment decisions than 41% in metro cities.

The LXME and Axis My India survey was conducted with 4,000 women across geographies, age groups, life stages and occupation.

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