• Anthea Green

Women Finance and Banking


For some years now I have been concerned about women who need to access banking and finance facilities who don't truly understand, or have not had experience in these sorts of negotiations and transactions.

I have heard stories of women who have lost partners, or left relationships, who found themselves with no real access or understanding of how the joint financial arrangements had been made and were managed. This of course causes considerable concern, panic and dislocation for the woman. If she is needing to leave a relationship, particularly an abusive one, it can be devastating.


I have for some time been advocating that banks, financial institutions, insurance companies and Super Funds should provide specialised services for women so that they feel they can explore honestly and openly the situations that they are in.


No matter their circumstance, if they need assistance or a loan, it is important that they can be open about the degree of knowledge they have about the various financial avenues open to them and how they can navigate them. This is especially true of women starting small businesses. It is also true of women in remote areas, from diverse culture and language backgrounds, indigenous women and women in financially disadvantaged groups. These are women who are most likely to find the whole situation daunting and inaccessible.

Attached to this Blog is a copy of an article I wrote some years ago in relation to Women and Banking. It argues for special services from banks and financial institutions for women throughout women’s lives. This is as true in first world countries as third world countries.


The Banking Royal Commission has highlighted the Banks lack of sensitive treatment of a range of clients in a range of different situations. I think it is a shame we have not had more commentary on banking for a range of groups who may find the whole banking and finance system daunting. Again, I refer to women and to people who are culturally and linguistically diverse, indigenous people, those living in remote areas, people with disability and to anyone who feels on the periphery of society and on the periphery of these sorts of institutions.


If you don’t read The Conversation, I would highly recommend it as a wonderful, unbiased daily discussion paper on topical and interesting areas edited and referenced by academics in Universities. There have been several articles recently that particularly grabbed my attention.

One is: Banks are enabling economic abuse. Here’s how they could be stopping it. February 1, 2019 Becky Bagatol Associate Professor of Law Monash University and Marcia Neave Distinguished Professional Visitor, Faculty of Law Monash University.

https://theconversation.com/banks-are-enabling-economic-abuse-heres-how-they-could-be-stopping-it-110439


This article, written by two women is a particularly interesting. They are suggesting that banks, by not being insensitive to the client and the client's needs and how the client is approaching the bank, are missing identifying victims of economic abuse. This article particularly highlights how banks could be much more mindful and aware of women or anyone who may be in an abusive relationship particularly manifesting around banking and finance. They conclude the article by saying


“we have a rare opportunity to secure a common approach to family violence as part of the response to the banking royal commission. Our financial institutions should embrace it. “



Anthea Green 2nd March 2019



WOMEN AND BANKING

ARTICLE from 2016 by Anthea Green AIMS

This paper is designed to outline concept ideas for banking and financial services tailored for women. Its aim is to target women business leaders and address making banking and financial services more accessible for women generally and especially for women from ethnic minority and socially disadvantaged groups who may not easily access such services.

WOMEN AND BANKING

The material outlined in the documents listed below in Background information accords with many general observations made by women colleagues about banking services. Some women still have limited access to bank accounts due to joint named accounts that they rarely use. Women get widowed or have broken relationships unexpectedly and find they have no experience or insight into accessing the services available or how to go about it. Business women find loans for SME businesses hard to acquire and manage on cash flow and family loans. This is very hard and could be made more manageable.

Women in domestic violence scenarios, from other cultures or who have any disadvantage can struggle with accessing fully the financial services available. This can be a limiter to proper self-realization and can become part of gender inequality in society.


The recommendations to the G20 Countries by the Women’s World Banking in Women’s Financial Inclusion; a driver for growth are very relevant in this context (page 4):


THE PRIVATE SECTOR

  • Reach women where they are:

  • Mobile network operators and banks should invest in rural network coverage and develop their ecosystem of digital financial products and services.

  • Low-cost digital solutions provide the best way to reach women given existing constraints.

  • Design simple, intuitive digital financial products:

  • Design products and services to be intuitive and to have compelling user benefits for customers who may have low levels of literacy.

  • Develop marketing and onboarding strategies differently:

  • Recognize the different perspectives and needs of women in marketing programs and account for the additional interactions required early in the customer relationship to build trust.

  • Tailor internal processes to address women’s constraints:

  • Analyse onboarding and approval processes to identify specific pain points that preclude women from getting the products and services they are seeking.

  • Known pain-points such as KYC requirements, credit scoring and collateral recognition should be tailored to remove obstacles in a way that balances the needs of the financial institution with the realities of women’s financial situations.”


Are our Banks following this advice in Australia. No!!!

BACKGROUND

The World Bank has released a considerable amount of material about general access to banking services globally. Policy Research Working Paper, 7255, The Global Findex Database 2014 Measuring Financial Inclusion around the World (1). It also has considerable material on women’s access to banking globally Expanding Women’s Access to Financial Services February 26, 2014 (2).


Women’s financial inclusion: a driver for global growth (3) has been released by the Women’s World Banking as has Gender Performance Indicators 2.0: How well are we serving women? Women’s World Banking (4).


The Women’s World Banking organisation is supported by the Australian Government.

Obviously the World Bank’s intent is to highlight particularly developing countries where there are considerable social and cultural issues and blocks to individual’s access to banking and financial services. However, it does report on first world countries and one finds some interesting data.


The material from Women’s World Banking provides analysis of the issues facing women across the globe. It has released a document providing benchmarks in Gender Performance Indicators 2.00: How well are we serving Women. This document has very interesting and very rich data.


These documents highlight the indicators available to establish how well people are accessing general banking services and how they use them. In a country like Australia the World Bank argues access has to be about 94% but that does not mean the process is easy for all or readily supported by the institutions themselves.


Abstract - Policy Working Paper, 7255 The Global Findex Database 2014.

“The Global Financial Inclusion (Global Findex) database, launched by the World Bank in 2011, provides comparable indicators showing how people around the world save, borrow, make payments, and manage risk.


The 2014 edition of the database reveals that 62% of adults worldwide have an account at a bank or another type of financial institution or with a mobile money provider.


Between 2011 and 2014, 700 million adults became account holders while the number of those without an account—the unbanked—dropped by 20 percent to 2 billion (this is still a very big number). What drove this increase in account ownership?

A growth in account penetration of 13 % in developing economies and innovations in technology—particularly mobile money, which is helping to rapidly expand access to financial services in Sub-Saharan Africa.


Along with these gains, the data also show that big opportunities remain to increase financial inclusion, especially among women and poor people...“ (Page V1)

Same document:

“The gender gap in account ownership is not narrowing. In 2011, 47 percent of women had

an account, while 54 percent of men did. Today 58 percent of women have an account,

and 65 percent of men do. This reflects a persistent gender gap of 7 percentage points

globally. In developing economies, the gender gap remains a steady 9 percentage points. “ (Page 5)

The Women’s World Banking publication indicates the issues, and although they relate to developing countries they also comment on the G20 group;


“Women face significant disadvantages in terms of access to key products beyond savings accounts, such as credit. For example, women own 40 percent of the world’s 340 million informal small -to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and one-third of the world’s 40 million formal SMEs. Goldman Sachs estimates 70 percent of women-owned formal SMEs are unserved or underserved in terms of access to credit, amounting to a $285 billion credit gap. Closing this credit gap in developing countries could increase per-capita GDP by 12 percent by 2030” Women’s financial inclusion: a driver for global growth (Page 1)

The Women’s World Banking document above outlines the issues to be tackled across the globe (see page 3): They are:


Women have fewer controlled assets.

Women are harder to reach Financial institutions are less understood by women


Women are less understood by financial institutions

They also make specific recommendations to the G20 countries as to actions to take across Domestic Governments and the Private Sector (Page 4) to increase women’s participation in all banking activities.

These recommendations could form the platform for any new initiatives inside any Bank in Australia.

Document Links:

http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/187761468179367706/pdf/WPS7255.pdf

http://www.worldbank.org/en/results/2013/04/01/banking-on-women-extending-womens-access-to-financial-services

https://www.womensworldbanking.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Womens-Financial-Inclusion-Driver-Global-Growth.pdf

http://www.womensworldbanking.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/GenderPerformanceIndicators_2015_WomensWorldBanking.pdf

Anthea Green 5th October 2016

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