Closing Gender Gap in Financial Services Could Unlock $330 Billion

Closing Gender Gap in Financial Services Could Unlock $330 Billion

Increasing women's access to financial products and services could expand the market for financial service providers and promote gender equality, a new report from BNY Mellon and the United Nations Foundation finds.

The report, Powering Potential: Increasing Women's Access to Financial Products and Services (PDF, 32 pages), found that women influence or control roughly 25 percent to 30 percent of global wealth — or more than $20 trillion in assets. It also found that when women control financial assets, they are more likely than men to invest in the health, education, and well-being of their families, suggesting that there are significant benefits to greater financial inclusion for women both for society as a whole as well as for future generations.

At the same time, the report found that women have only three-quarters (77 percent) of the access to basic financial services such as checking and savings accounts, credit and loans, insurance products, and investment opportunities as men, and that they use financial products and services at lower rates than men because there are fewer products on the market that meet their needs; that the products that do exist tend not to be effectively marketed or delivered to women; and that societal and structural barriers often impede their ability to be financial actors.

To change that calculus, the report suggests that the private sector should focus on innovating approaches designed to reach more women customers and steer more capital to companies whose products and services promote women's financial inclusion and empowerment; that the public sector should work to eliminate legal restrictions and discrimination with respect to women’s access to and use of financial products and services; and that the social sector should step up its efforts to generate cross-sectoral partnerships aimed at driving greater financial inclusion and gender equality for women.

"Economically empowering women provides an undeniable return on investment: markets grow, women thrive, and families and communities are stronger," said United Nations Foundation president and CEO Kathy Calvin. "Closing the gender gap in access to financial products and services is an opportunity and obligation we can't ignore any longer. If we want a better future, it starts with gender equality."