Yes She Can

Financial and Professional Services Firms Collaborate To Help Close The Savings and Investment Gap – a potential £350bn industry opportunity


  • Encouragement: being encouraged to invest is a significant factor in becoming an investor and women are less likely to be encouraged, including by the industry
  • Engagement: highlighting why investing is important, and that many are already investors through pension schemes, women are more likely to engage
  • Auto enrolment: auto enrolment has handed the industry an un-tapped opportunity as it has created even more investors – but people just don’t realise they are
  • Technology: digital technology can inspire women to invest – and this project has identified the nudges and tools that work

The Wisdom Council and seven leading financial and professional services companies shared the Yes She Can project key findings and industry actions at an event on 27 November 2019. This collaborative project has revealed an opportunity for the sector to address the savings and investment gap for women in a meaningful way. It began as an initiative to test how to make investments appeal more to women, but discovered a fundamental truth: most women have simply never considered investing in the first place.

Investing and long-term saving is just not on their radar.

The Wisdom Council, along with Aberdeen Standard Investments, EY, HSBC Global Asset Management UK, Royal London Group, Scottish Widows, St. James’s Place and Vitality have been working collaboratively with over 3,300 women around the country over the past six months, tackling the challenge of making the proposition of long-term savings, investments and pensions more engaging and relevant for women and ultimately everyone.

The project embraced the innovation techniques and strategies used by many of the most popular consumer brands who are adept at engaging women.


  • The industry isn’t just speaking the wrong language for women, it is often having completely the wrong conversation which results in many communications falling on deaf ears and having no impact
  • Advertising and communications targeted at women often reinforce the outdated mantras that women are risk averse and lack confidence as investors
    • Women have a different view:
    • They describe themselves as CEOs of their households, taking controlled risks on a daily basis
    • Women investors are just as confident as men and are more likely to talk about i
    • For women, femininity is about strength and resilience. They are ambitious for their futures
  • In talking about lack of confidence and barriers, the industry risks reinforcing the perception that investing is not ‘for people like me’
  • To address the gender pensions gap and encourage long term savings we have to get on women’s radars by making investing and long—term savings part of everyday conversations
  • Most women (and men come to that) don’t realise they are already investors through their workplace pension. Tapping in to this realisation can be Over 75% of the final sample of 2,250 didn’t know that they were investors, despite the recruitment criteria specifying that they had to have a workplace or personal pension
  • Most of the women involved in this project had simply not considered investing, as opposed to consciously deciding not to invest
    • 59% of non—investing women had never thought of investing as an option
    • 87% of non-investing women had never been encouraged to consider investing
  • Family and social circles can often play a critical role in motivating and encouraging individuals to invest, especially for women
    • 85% of non—investing women involved in the project don’t think people like them are investing

Anna Lane, CEO, The Wisdom Council said: “It is rare to have such a genuinely collaborative cross-industry project tackling the savings gap in such a practical way. The firms involved in this project, along with their sister companies, represent approximately 50% of UK consumers, lending huge momentum to the project. Closing the savings gap is a huge social issue. Yes, there is a £350bn commercial opportunity for the sector, but there is also a massive need to help people fund their financial futures. This is a perfect storm.”

We talked to women as consumers, asking them about the relationships they have with the brands they love and why. Working together we have explored and tested innovative ways that these learnings can be applied to the world of long-term saving and, specifically, investing. Through our female-curated digital stories and behavioral nudges we’ve proven that when you tell the right story, in the right way, you can change behavior. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

At the current pace of change it will take a minimum of 100 years for the gender pensions gap to close. That’s just not good enough. The Yes She Can project has demonstrated that if we work together we can engage women, get investing on their radars and encourage them to take action.”

The project findings identified 3 key misconceptions that were then tested:

  1. Women don’t like taking risks
  2. Women lack confidence when it comes to investing
  3. Women have taken a conscious decision not to invest

The Yes She Can project identified the things that matter most to women when purchasing from the consumer brands they love, then applied them to financial services. Looking at these purchase triggers and identifying a set of six pillars that underpin women’s lives, we then validated these with large—scale data-driven insight in the form of behavioural analysis and social listening.

Working collaboratively with female consumers, 60 ideas were developed and designed to engage and inspire women to invest. Two of these were prioritised and transformed into digital “stories” and framed around real people and their lives. The final stage was to test these with 2,250 women and men, using a short survey delivered through The Wisdom Council’s highly engaging Al-driven personal survey bot, Kit.

After seeing the videos created as part of this project, there was a statistically significant increase in women’s intention to invest and 21% of the total sample went on to “find out more” and read more tips on investing at the end of the survey. The average click through rate is usually 1-2 %. Clearly the stories resonated and the highest scoring feedback was “inspired” and “intrigued”, with 58% of the total sample awarding the video a 4 & 5 star rating.

Anna concluded: “To address the gender pensions gap and get investing on the radars of women we need to make it part of their networks and conversations. This is a big challenge and one that is not possible for one firm to do alone. It needs the wisdom of the crowds and diverse minds working together, so the industry and society will benefit. Collaboration is very much the zeitgeist.”

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We believe that the finance industry can play a significant role in addressing today’s social and environmental challenges. Working collaboratively across the industry, we play our part in the transition to a more sustainable future.

The Wisdom Council

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