Tomorrow’s customer has a woman’s face

Original Article on Banking Review 22-02-2015

What does tomorrow’s customer look like? Nobody knows exactly, but it is likely that she has a woman’s face. It is worrying therefore that the financial sector is serving her poorly today.

Worldwide women go to school more often and longer, get children later, work and earn more. In addition, they are responsible for a large proportion of the household expenditure. It is not for nothing that companies increasingly target the ‘female economy.’ Increasingly, the company is also headed by a woman. Despite the huge increase in the female consumer base, banks do not seem to mind. Female client are downright dissatisfied with financial services, according to research by Silverstein and Sayre.[1]

In the Netherlands, there are many untapped opportunities. Particularly older women often leave finances to their husbands. Upon the loss of their partner, they are unprepared for the new financial situation and the management of capital. Because women live relatively longer lives chances are, they inherit twice in their lives; from their parents and their husbands. It would be a shame if this capital sits in a savings account.

That risk is real, because women are less likely to invest their money. Only one in six European women invest their money in stocks, bonds or other funds, compared to a quarter of men.[2] This is partly because women deal differently with risk. Barclays did a study that shows women make more informed decisions and therefore their decisions making process takes longer.[3]

That means banks need to make investments much more transparent to women and to invest time and effort to explain their products. This would generally be beneficial to the sector, considering the lack of public confidence. Furthermore, the Global Banking Alliance for Women states that women are distinguished from men because they want a relationship with their bank that goes beyond the purely transactional. A relationship means to build trust. Something that sounds simple but isn’t in a time where the clerk has been replaced by a log-in and a website.

That it pays to please the female customer becomes evident from examples abroad. Westpac (Australia) focused for 15 years on the female market. Its 2.1 million female customers account for € 1.07 billion Euro.[4] Also, RBS, Scotia Bank, Diamond Bank, Garanti Bank, along with over 30 other commercial banks have such programs. In the Netherlands no bank targets women explicitly. Which will be the first?

Zairah Khan


Nicolette Loonen
WIFS & VERA Community

Translated from

[1]           Silverstein, M. J., & Sayre, K. (2009a). The Female Economy. Harvard Business Review, 87(9), 46-53.

[2]          Kearney A.T., YouGov (2013) Gewohnheiten weiblicher Kunden im Umgang mit Banken und Finanzprodukten.

[3]          Barclays Wealth. (2007). Volume 2: A Question of Gender. London: Barclays.

[4]          Calculated from 1.55 AUD, Case study Westpac, Global Banking Alliance (2014).

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