Life Moments: Building Women’s Wealth


By 2020, women around the world are expected to control US$72 trillion, up from US$51 trillion in 2015. Globally, women’s wealth is expected to continue to increase as women’s education rises, they access more employment, they venture into entrepreneurship and they inherit more wealth in what is considered the greatest transfer of wealth in history. At the same time, women face a financial penalty from pay gaps, career breaks and higher life expectancy, which can contribute to lower investable assets. Further, women are deferring to men when making investment decisions, they lack or report lower financial education, they are not prioritizing long-term financial planning or protection, and they are looking for greater connections with their financial advisors. This panel explored the findings from the GBA’s latest global research on women investors and highlighted diverse cases from financial services providers that have successfully tapped this market. It also highlighted key success factors for developing a women’s investor strategy. 

Key Points

  • – Financial Alliance for Women research found that although wealthy women investors represent one of the biggest emerging and underserved opportunities for financial services providers, with few exceptions, truly holistic programs that fully address the needs of this segment are not in place.
  • – Women investors have distinct financial needs that are consistent across geographies and income levels, including the need for more inclusion, financial education, long-term planning and protection, and connection.
  • – Six key efforts can help FSPs successfully tap into the growing opportunity of women of wealth, including a focus on client experience, strategy integration, talent diversity, tailored marketing, increased engagement and tailored products.
  • – Women’s life journeys are fundamentally different than men’s, and research and listening to customers is key in understanding those differences.
  • – Action comes when women are made visible through data. To truly embed a women’s strategy, it is necessary to understand the gender gaps in women clients, prospects, acquisitions, etc.
  • – FSPs have an opportunity and responsibility to break the taboos around the topic of women and money. Studies show the real ramifications of not talking about money and finances: 70 percent of wealth created is lost in the second generation; by the third generation, 90 percent of wealth is lost.
  • – Panelists discussed why more asset managers are not tapping into this opportunity, including making assumptions on engagement and marketing, using jargon and complicated language, a double bias against high net worth women, and a double standard among many financial advisors in how they see women in their families versus in the financial sector.
  • – A call to action was also made to ensure more women are included as financial advisors, given the lack of diversity in the sector.


ISABELLE HERNU-SFEIR; Lead of the Wealth Team, Multinational Client Group; Mercer

REBECCA RUF; EVP, Programs; Financial Alliance for Women

SYDNEY ATKINS, Head of Private Wealth Management, Ellevest

JEN AUERBACH; Director, Head of Strategic Growth Markets, Global Wealth & Investment Management; Merrill Lynch Wealth Management

OLGA MILER, Award-winning Innovator, former architect of UBS segment strategy for women



Wealth is not an equalizerfor women. 
— Rebecca Ruf

Our investment thesis is: Women will never be equal to men until we are financially equal to men.
— Sydney Atkins


In the US women control 50+ percent of personal wealth. We are beyond making the business case. … Financial institutions that don’t start serving the female economy won’t be around much longer. 
— Jen Auerbach

Pay gaps, career breaks and higher life expectancy are still hurdles to women’s wealth.
— Olga Miler