How can banks cater to women’s needs or understand them

How can banks cater to women's needs or understand them

Let’s face it, banks have got a bad name. Associated with masculine recklessness, bravado and machismo, the system makes a lot of women feel excluded from the world of finance. An irony since women decide on 80% of purchases and own 52% of bank accounts. It has also been found that banks with women CEOs were more likely to survive the financial crises and in Iceland women are cleaning up the mess the men made of their economy. Yet 84% of women feel misunderstood by investment marketers. A recent white paper authored by Gemma Cernuda-Canelles of Ellas Deciden (Women Decide) explores how women see banking and what banks can do to win their trust.

By conducting 20 in-depth, 90 minute interviews with women of various backgrounds and ages, a picture emerges and she came up with a manifesto for banks. Half of the respondents thought a change of tone was necessary, to be more open, empathetic and to be able to put a face to the person managing their accounts. Staggeringly though, 100% thought that the bank should listen and avoid trying to sell products to them outright. They agreed that they would like to connect, create long-term relationships and build trust.

In general women were happy for digital developments, like apps to check their balances and pay bills, and to be alerted if large transactions take place or there might be an emergency looming. But they also want to be able to talk to someone, preferably through a video chat, if they are unsure about something.

While men were found to be more impulsive, women took longer to decide. This was not because they did not understand but because they think more and their inner processes take longer before accepting a deal. Women also lose more sleep from worry (68% vs. 56% for men) “The woman is not the biggest consumer, but she is the person who makes most purchasing decisions: it’s different”- Gema Sacristán. Women also preferred certain words, for instance to “put in” and “take out” money rather than ‘deposit” and “withdraw” and they also don’t want to be spoken down to; the pink strategy would be a big mistake for a bank to embark on. “Women don’t want different financial advice, they want financial advice delivered differently”. – Amanda Steinberg.

When they were asked if they wanted a women only bank most respondents said no but there was a split on what strategy should be employed. A definite trend for a desire for equality emerged with one respondent noting, “I want them to show me that I am important to them and that they want along term relationship with me. I want a people’s bank rather than just a women’s bank”.

So what should the ideal bank offer women? The aggregated data indicates women prefer simplicity, agility and ease when using a digital interface. They would prefer a fingerprint security measure more than a password and to get personalised attention and bespoke solutions that take into account life’s milestones. They want a friend at the bank who knows them and they can trust, preferably a women and they would also like messages to have female emoticons and voiceovers. Furthermore the respondents would like:

  1. Grouping expenses into categories classifying spending into predefined categories. 82% acceptance rate.
  2. Budgets: Decide how much you want to spend per category and receive an alert when you arrive at your limit. 79% acceptance rate.
  3. Saving Goals: allows you to visualise your saving objectives with greater ease. 76% acceptance rate.
  4. Financial Calendar: an interactive map shows tendencies of incomings and outgoings. 75% acceptance rate.
  5. Notifications: Be forewarned if you receive a bill ,are low on cash or you need to move money. 72% acceptance rate.
  6. Aggregation of all bank accounts: See and navigate between all your account on one screen. 66% acceptance rate.
  7. OK to Spend: You will know if you’re OK to treat yourself to something extra. 58% acceptance rate.
  8. Community comparison: compare your habits with other clients. This is the least popular with only 33% acceptance.

Being in control of their finances makes women feel free, powerful and calm. They want to be financially fit and have piece of mind. And as Gail Kerry, CEO of Westpac says, “ it isn’t a question of ideology, or political correctness. It is an important financial and business opportunity.”

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