Women in Southeast Asia are a force to be reckoned with, especially in the world of personal finance and investing. They are a major contributor to the economy and important financial decision makers.1 But as a community they are hardly homogenous.
To fully meet women’s financial needs, financial firms must embrace how diverse the community is.
Research shows that women’s financial needs vary widely, and this diversity presents an opportunity for financial firms to fully meet their requirements. To do this well, however, firms must first recognize how diverse the community is. Here are some key insights on how their financial needs vary, and how firms can be more inclusive to empower women’s financial growth.
Women’s diverse financial needs in Southeast Asia
The region’s flourishing digital economy sets the scene for women’s myriad financial needs. The digital economy grew 20% year over year in 2022 to reach $200 billion, and 100 million internet users were added over the last three years.
Among the millions of nascent online users are those new to banking, who joined during the pandemic because digital banking became increasingly accessible. Indeed, 34% of women who use digital payments became first-time users between 2019 and 2022.2
To support the newly banked, financial firms should have intuitive in-app banking experiences and offer services such as online chat assistance. Providing financial education content can further help these customers and enable firms to build lasting relationships with them.
The digital economy boom has also given rise to specific financial needs for 23.9 million women entrepreneurs in the region. They own more than a third of the region’s 55 million small and medium businesses, but fewer than 21% of those enterprises are well-served by financial services. They need better support, including access to credit, and financial firms can provide them with essential services such as cross-border payment and cash management solutions.
Along with the region’s overall economic progress, we’re seeing more women in well-paying senior management roles, and this has led to distinct financial needs among them. There’s a willingness among the affluent to consider online wealth management services and this presents an opportunity for firms to provide personalized portfolio management services online.
Intricacies underpinning women’s financial behaviors
Even within an audience segment, like the wealthy, financial behaviors vary. For instance, among women with high income, 50% felt like they know “very little” about investing and managing their investment portfolio.3
Diversity is also evident among women of the same age group when it comes to financial literacy. Those of the ages 45 and up in first- and second-tier cities have an above average understanding of financial concepts such as diversification and compound interest. In third-tier cities, however, women of the same ages perform below the average in financial literacy.4
Financial firms can act inclusively when they recognize the intricacies that underpin women’s diverse financial behaviors.
When it comes to the adoption of digital investment platforms, there are further points of divergence. Among women ages 40 to 50, the adoption of digital investment platforms is over four times more likely for those with high income than those with low income. Yet among women ages 20 to 30, digital adoption is consistent across income groups.5
With a firm appreciation of the intricacies that underpin women’s diverse financial behaviors, financial providers are well-placed to engage with them in inclusive ways.
Best practices to grow women’s financial inclusion
A key way for financial firms to understand and meet women’s various financial needs is by uncovering customer insights from consented first-party data. For instance, with Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and Google Analytics for Firebase SDK, financial firms can tap into the power of Google’s AI to analyze web and app behavioral data in a privacy-safe way, and predict and surface new customer insights.
They can also integrate consented first-party data with GA4 data to build comprehensive personas and deliver financial service proposals to these look-alike audiences. Furthermore, through a test-and-learn approach, they can better understand women’s preferences for product offers, pricing, and marketing assets.
Empower women to take charge of their financial decisions and represent them as the financial decision makers that they are.
Another way to increase women’s financial inclusion is by representing them authentically in marketing creatives and not being heavy-handed about it. Take for example DBS digibank’s YouTube campaign promoting its banking app. The video, aimed at young adults, is fronted by a female lead, but she is shown going about activities that any young adult can relate to.
Financial firms can also help women grow financially by empowering them to feel confident about finance and investing. Video is a good means to reach out and inspire them because 38% of women rate online video as a top source of financial information.6 BMO Financial Group’s YouTube videos, for example, challenge societal bias against women, and inspire women to be confident about their finances. Digital investment platform Syfe, on the other hand, regularly posts educational videos on finance and investment topics to its YouTube channel.
When financial providers put effort into understanding the diversity of women in Southeast Asia and meeting their myriad financial needs, they grow alongside this influential community. So empower women to take charge of their financial decisions and help them show up as the financial decision makers that they are.