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New face of wealth

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The rising economic clout of women is one of the most significant recent economic shifts. The growth of ultra-high-net-worth women is a force to be reckoned with

Women are only gaining a stronger foothold in the economic sphere year on year. In 2020, a report suggested that the next generation of high-net-worth women is likely to transform family and banking dynamics as they achieve higher levels of education and become more involved in family businesses. The increased accessibility to higher education has boosted the presence of women in the Middle East and family offices in the region.

According to Coursera’s upcoming Women and Skills report that examines the pandemic’s impact on skills and learning trends among women in the UAE, the pandemic has had an uptick on skills and enrolment trends among women including increasing participation from women in STEM courses and entry-level job training programmes. In July, the UAE pledged Dh367 million to Global Partnership for Education to support the education of women and girls around the world, setting a prime example. The report also shows evidence that the pandemic narrowed the gender skills gap.

A survey, which polled global high-net-worth (HNW) family members in countries including France, Germany, India, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and UK, also outlined that up to 82 per cent of women from wealthy families are expected to gain a wealthy inheritance over the coming 20 years, making them beneficiaries of a ballpark figure of $5 trillion that will be transferred to the next generation by 2030. Of the women surveyed, 46 per cent said they are involved in the day-to-day running of family businesses.

As modernisation sets in, social and cultural shifts have begun to change the dynamics of HNW families. According to the same survey, 54 per cent of women hold stakes in family businesses compared with 57 per cent of men, while 43 per cent of HNW women have postgraduate qualifications compared with just 14 per cent of their parents. Women are definitely being seen more in leadership positions and are increasingly involved in all financial decisions.

A report by the research firm Wealth-X found that just one out of every seven individuals worth more than $30 million in 2018 is a woman, around 15 per cent, which was the most it had ever been at the time. Out of the 265,490 ultra-wealthy people on the planet, defined by Wealth-X as those with net worths over $30 million, 38,700 are women, according to the research firm’s 2019 World Ultra-Wealth Report. The share of ultra-high-net-worth individuals who are women jumps to 18.8 per cent when only those under 50 are studied, suggesting that women’s share of the one per cent will continue to increase with time indicating that while wealthy women used to primarily inherit their fortunes; now, they’re also building them on their own.

From the US to China, 328 women made the 2021 Forbes billionaires list, up from 241 last year. As a group, the women on the list are worth $1.53 trillion, a nearly 60 per cent increase since 2020. Twelve of these women share their fortunes with either their husband, child or sibling, up from seven women who shared their fortunes last year.

Some featured women include L’Oreal heiress Françoise Bettencourt Meyers; Miuccia Prada of the luxury fashion company Prada; daughter of Walmart tycoon, Sam Walton, Alice Walton; and more.

Research shows that American women are leading the way as business owners and entrepreneurs. They oversee household purchasing decisions and control the majority of wealth. It is estimated that women across the globe are accumulating wealth at an unprecedented rate, adding $5 trillion to the pool every year, and now accounting for 32 per cent of global wealth. The rise in the UAE is particularly noteworthy with women’s wealth in the country expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.3 per cent up to 2023. Despite these gains, women still face unique challenges that make planning a priority.

Mashreq Bank is ensuring that ultra-high-net-worth women are catered to with hand-crafted solutions. Vipul Kapur, Managing Director, Head of Private Banking, Mashreq Bank, mentions that the bank has also adopted a digital-first attitude that enables a focus on product innovation and a unified customer experience. With more women becoming glowing members of the ultra-high-net-worth club, Mashreq Bank, with its focus on holistic wealth solutions, is well-positioned to cater to their unique needs. He says that there is a confidence gap between advisors and clients of the opposite gender. So Mashreq has appointed a team of certified women wealth relationship managers especially catering to the wealthy women clients, who meet, understand and evaluate their wealth and investment aspirations.

The growing wealth of women is surely changing the face of wealth management and also the meaning of legacy.

Nisthula Nagarajan