In the scope of investment dollars, women have historically not been as active as men. In fact, nearly 1 in 5 have nothing saved, according to a 2020 CNBC/Survey Monkey Women at Work survey. But their representation is growing as more women learn the benefits of investing and how to diversify their income and saving potential.
One theory is that the investment gap actually begins with the wage gap. On average, women earn about $0.80 to every dollar a man earns. But educational attainment plays a role in earning as well. Women with a high school diploma earn roughly 57% of the net estimated lifetime earnings as a man with the same educational attainment. Earning a bachelor’s degree only closes the gap by four percentage points. Even with a graduate degree, net estimated lifetime earnings for a woman are just 77% of a man’s earnings. This equates to roughly a $1 million difference between the lifetime earnings of men and women by the time they reach retirement age.
Another factor is the likelihood to engage in negotiation. Roughly two-thirds of women will accept a job offer and salary without any negotiation, compared to only about half of men. That’s extra money being left on the table, which when extrapolated over a career, could amount to thousands in additional lifetime earnings.
When it comes to saving for retirement, men definitely have a head start. Approximately 81% of men are contributing to a 401K or similar plan, whether through their workplace or outside, compared to 70% of women. Men also rank saving for retirement as their top financial priority. By contrast, women rank retirement saving below such short-term financial concerns as meeting daily living costs, paying off debts, covering housing costs.
Furthermore, family and childcare responsibilities typically fall upon women, sometimes forcing them to leave the workforce for a time. That time spent away from the workforce not only deprives women of their take-home pay during these times, but also the benefit of retirement contributions that would have accrued as well. Historically, 27% of women said they would step away from the workforce because of caregiver responsibilities; just 10% of men said the same. The economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated this disparity, forcing 2.3 million women to leave the workforce since February 2020. Of these, one in four women reported that their departure was due to lack of childcare, twice the rate of men surveyed.
Between deferred consideration for retirement savings, lower wages and time spent away from the workforce, women can find themselves wanting a way to make up the difference so that they can establish a more secure financial future.
Fortunately, studies have shown that women tend to make more savvy investors than men. Women spend more time researching their investment options. They also tend to take on less risk than men. This does not, however, mean that women are more risk averse, but that instead they are more considerate in taking calculated risk. Women are able to remain calm throughout market cycles, more often opting to be patient with any fluctuation knowing it will likely rebalance. In the long run, these behaviors tend to provide better outcomes for their investments.
In fact, women investors actually earn better returns than men, and tend to have fewer losses to overall portfolio value in a downturn thanks to their steady demeanor. And since a large factor in growing wealth and saving enough for retirement is investing to outpace inflation, investing in commercial real estate and capital solutions would provide a valuable contribution to women’s financial portfolio.
Commercial real estate investing offers risk-adjusted returns and income generation from rental income throughout a hold period. This type of investment also provides a level of long-term capital preservation throughout market downturns. And thanks to appreciation, by the time an investment property is sold, there is likely an even greater return waiting for investors at the end of the hold. And if direct ownership seems too overwhelming or risky, there are experienced owner-operators, like CONTI, that provide you all of the benefits of real estate investment while allowing you access to larger, diversified portfolios.
Given the heightened patience and strategy often exhibited by women investors and the fact that real estate returns are more risk-adjusted than those of stocks and bonds, it’s worth considering as an addition to any financial portfolio. Whether you’re looking to catch-up on retirement savings or grow wealth overall, commercial real estate and capital solutions could be an ideal choice for improving any financial position in the long-term.