What role do women play in High Net Worth families, and how is it changing?


The latest report by Barclays predicts that the new generation of High Net Worth women will not only reshape family dynamics, but also the banking world.

Four in five women (82%) from High Net Worth (HNW) families are set to inherit substantial wealth over the next 20 years, Yet, two in five wealthy women are not currently involved in the management of their family finances. Barclay’s research is based upon a survey of over 400 global High Net Worth (HNW) family members and 20 HNW families and their bankers.

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The report finds that these women are subject to relentless gender bias. 60% of women say that their financial adviser treats them differently because of their gender, while wealthy women are also more than twice as likely as men not to have a financial advisor. Women are also less confident when it comes to financial family decisions. In fact, 41% of women from HNW families do not even take part in such decisions.

It’s man’s, man’s world

Barclays found that in 83% of cases, the main decision-makers around family wealth are men. Furthermore, these main decision-makers, whether they are men or women, are then twice as likely to turn to their sons (29%) rather than their daughters (14%) on matters of wealth, finance, and investment. However, mindsets are changing, says Barcalys, thanks to the younger generation’s less traditional outlook on life.

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“The financial world has historically been male-gendered,” explains Dr. Ylva Baeckstrom, behavioural finance and gender expert. “It was created by men, for men, to suit their purposes. (…) Women have been excluded from finance until relatively recently and are still treated differently.The industry needs to overcome existing biases.”

Meanwhile, Montserrat Marchetti, Director of Barclays Private Bank predicts that the “growing global influence of women” will be “a major economic force over the next decade” and will redefine areas that have “historically been focused on, and dominated by, men”.