Monday, 21 November 2011


Money Chat campaign reveals over nine million women in the UK are uncomfortable discussing money;
and 16 million women are concerned about making ends-meet, compared to just 12 million men

Despite being known as the chattier sex, it seems that when it comes to talking money, women are more reluctant to open up than their male counterparts. New research released today from the Money Advice Service, has found that nearly two-fifths (39%) of women, which equates to 9.5 million people, are uncomfortable discussing money, compared to just a third of men (33% or 7.7m).

Worryingly, the figures, gathered as part of the Service’s Money Chat campaign, which aims to get the UK to open up more about money, also show that women are more concerned about their money, with nearly a third (31%) saying they feel stressed about it, compared to just over a fifth (22%) of men. And that nearly two-thirds of women (65% or 15.8m) are concerned about making ends-meet, compared to just over half of men (53% or 12.4m).

·       For some women, their reluctance to talk about money in daily life is related to confidence - nearly a third (30%) say they don’t feel confident talking about money, compared to just under a quarter (24%) of men.
·       A third (33%) of women say they find it stressful talking about money, compared to just under a quarter (24%) of men.

It’s not just in conversation that this lack of confidence may be putting women at a disadvantage. Men are also more willing to seek help when needed, with nearly half (45%) (10.5m) saying that they would tell their partner or family straight away if they were struggling with debt, compared to just under two-fifths (38%) (9.2m) of women. Outside of the home, nearly three-fifths (57%) of men, compared to just over half (52%) of women say that they are comfortable telling a professional or expert money adviser how much they earn for a living.
The survey also indicates:

·       Women are still quite traditional when thinking about earnings, with a third (33%) saying that they would prefer that their partner earn more than they do.
·       For nearly a third (30%) of women, planning to move in with someone is the time to start wondering how much a prospective partner earns, while under a fifth (19%) of men think about it then.
·       In fact, nearly a third (32%) of men say that they would never think about how much a prospective partner earns, compared to just under a fifth (18%) of women.

I suppose traditionally, money matters have been viewed as male territory and this may be one of the reasons why men still feel more confident discussing it and seeking help when needed. However, money is a topic we should all feel comfortable broaching, whether you’re a traditional type or not. This not only applies in times of difficulty, but also in our daily lives. Feeling comfortable discussing money makes it easier to assess our own financial situation, and see whether there are ways we could be making it work better for us."

To illustrate the results and highlight the differences between men and women across the UK, the Money Advice Service has created an interactive Money Chat Map at:   

The Money Advice Service is an independent organisation, here to help everyone make the most of their money with free, practical advice. This autumn, it launched its Money Chat campaign to encourage everyone to open up more about money and break down the barriers that stop us seeking help. To get the conversation started, you can use its free online health check, which identifies a list of short and long-term money priorities in a personalised action plan. Try the health check now online at,uk.
Customers can also speak to a Money Adviser on the phone via 0300 500 5000, or arrange a face-to-face meeting in their local area (see below for further details).

Don't forget Sheconomics devotes a whole chapter to Sharing Financial Intimacies, helping you to get that money conversation started. You can also download our tip sheet about How To Talk To Your Partner About Money.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

How banks discriminate against female customers

Just imagine.
You’ve got an exciting and bomb-proof proposal for a start-up and approach your bank for investment. Later you find out that you were:
-       asked more questions
-       offered less money
-       ask to provide higher collateral
than a male applicant approaching the same lender. Because you are female.
I'm pregnant, not brain-dead.

That’s just one of the findings in a new report published today by Noreena Hertz who is based at Duisenberg School of Finance, RSM, Erasmus University and University of Cambridge. She also reveals how women are refused mortgages, and their business acument is called into question, if they are pregnant.
Professor Hertz’s key findings include:
-        Evidence in the UK of banks discriminating against pregnant women and women on maternity leave seeking mortgages. This seems to be an ongoing industry-wide practice, with a number of leading UK high street banks named.

-        Evidence in Europe of banks discriminating against women entrepreneurs. Research suggests women are being asked for more collateral than men for loans, being charged higher interest rates and being refused loans more frequently than men.

-        Evidence of gender stereotyping by bank loan officers internationally. Examples of this include women entrepreneurs being questioned significantly more often than male applicants whether they have undertaken sufficient research into their business, and pregnant women being assumed by lending officers not to return to work after having a child.

The report asks banks to think carefully about whether their staff may be negatively stereotyping women, either consciously or unconsciously, and to take measures to address this. 

And it points out that the UK government has a responsibility to investigate this type of discrimination, which contravenes the United Nations Convention dictat on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Equality Act of 2010. 

In fact it states that the government is legally obliged to take action after the disclosure of such discrimination, and such action would mean prosecuting the banks found guilty of such practice and compensating those who have been discriminated against.

Recently David Cameron could be heard pontificating about entrpreneurship being the ‘only strategy’ by which the UK economy could achieve significant growth. 
He also highlighted the need for entrepreneurs to have access to credit from banks in order to thrive. 
I wonder if he was aware that such access would be strongly influenced by the applicant’s gender?
You can download Professor Hertz's full report here.