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By Hannah Smith
en in the UK have £599bn more than women invested in ISAs, investment accounts and private pensions representing a gulf in investments that is greater than the GDP of Switzerland.
New research from consumer money site Boring Money has revealed that women are missing out on a potential £599bn in what has been dubbed the Gender Investment Gap. The survey of 6,000 UK adults found that there are an estimated 6.4 million female investors compared to 9.7 million male investors, meaning 3.3 million less women hold investments or private pensions in the UK - the equivalent to three times the population of Birmingham.
So what can be done to close the gap? More women need to take the plunge and start investing in the stock market, and it’s easier than you think. When you buy a share in a company, you own a small slice of that business.
The value of your shares will rise and fall depending on supply and demand from investors, which can be shaped by how the company is performing, economic factors, or industry trends.
To get started buying shares, one of the easiest DIY routes is to sign up to an online investment platform – some of the biggest and best known are AJ Bell YouInvest, Interactive Investor, IG and Hargreaves Lansdown. Consumer sites Which?, Moneyfacts or Money to the Masses can help you compare the features and benefits of each such as costs, selection of investments, whether they have a user-friendly app and so on.
Then you’ll want to open a general investment account or a Stocks & Shares ISA on your chosen platform. The latter is more tax-efficient.
Next, take your time to research any prospective investment so you understand its business and how it makes money. Many people who are new to investing in shares go for a brand they know well, such as a big supermarket, a favourite fashion brand, or the company they work for. Investment platforms will usually have free research and reports available to help you understand how a company is doing, so make the most of these and do your homework.
Remember it can be pricey to buy even a single share – one share in Apple today costs $150, for instance. You also need to factor in the cost of trading shares – transaction costs can be £8- £12 each time you buy or sell. Patience is a virtue in investing, so once you’ve bought your shares, be prepared to buy and hold them for at least a few years - so it’s worth investigating market trend predictions or reading company reports to find out what long term plans might hold for the business you’re investing in.
It’s important to note that buying shares is a risky strategy because you are pinning all your hopes on that one company’s fortunes. You can spread your risk by investing in a fund – these are a collection of shares in different companies managed by an investment professional for a fee. An index tracker fund is a type of low-cost fund which will just try to mimic the performance of a particular stock market by holding the same shares. You could select one that tracks the UK’s FTSE 100 stock index, the S&P 500 in the US, or choose a global index for maximum diversification, such as the MSCI World.
Set up a regular investing instruction so you invest automatically – some platforms let you invest as little as £25 a month. In investing, positive returns aren’t guaranteed but if you stay invested for the long term, you’ll give your money the best chance to grow.
Always seek professional independent advice when it comes to managing your finances.
As statistics reveal women are missing out on billions, here we unpack how to invest in shares and crack the stock market.
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