The State of Play in Gender Lens Investing

Return on Equity

Leaders in gender finance discussed the current state of gender lens investing, the different lenses that can be applied across asset classes, and emerging trends in the field. Examples of current investment vehicles were discussed, and panelists highlighted why this field is relevant to financial institutions and how they can tap into high net worth women as a strategic segment.

Key Points

  • Gender lens investing is a multi-billion-dollar market opportunity. There are currently US$910 million gender lens investments in 22 structured products, including public equities and public debt. There is US$2 billion in venture capital directly focused on women, including in leadership and in products. There are about $1 billion in bonds invested.
  • Gender lens investing can be applied with various lenses, including women as consumers, women in supply chains, and women in top governance and leadership in companies. The field is not a defined asset class but sits across all classes.
  • The field is relevant for financial institutions because there are a number of investment opportunities for banks to raise capital, including publicly listed funds, and institutional and individual investors. There are also a number of reputational benefits associated with gender lens investing.
  • There is a lot of momentum in the field – there is political momentum in many countries, as well as increased media attention, and increasing reputational risk if companies don’t address gender gaps. The demographics of the female economy are also driving this momentum.
  • Data is critical to ensure all the pieces are working, but some data is not yet available and some is not accurate.
  • At AXA, the strategy for gender lens investing originated from both the insurance and investment areas of the company, and was rooted on a strong internal commitment to gender.
    • Their gender diversity fund, the MIXIN Perspective Fund, was created based on the belief that greater diversity leads to superior business results as well as a recognition that there was a deep and broad investment universe.
  • UBS realized that US$2.3 trillion could be unleashed from women investors in the next five years if they are targeted correctly. This led to gender lens investing at the company evolving from seeking individual opportunities to developing a strategic approach across the bank.
    • UBS Unique was developed as a five-year change program that places women as a strategic business priority and adds a gender lens to all approaches to serve women better.
    • The program seeks to contribute to the advancement of SDG 5 and increase the financial confidence of 1 million women.
  • The Inter-American Development Bank works with clients to structure products such as gender bonds, and they are working to create a new asset class in debt capital markets.
    • A key element is ensuring that bonds are certified, and they are partnering with external analytics companies to track how many women are impacted by the issuing banks/FSPs.
    • The IDB is also working on other innovative products that include gender-related asset securitization and fostering more women-managed private equity funds.

PANELISTS

SUZANNE BIEGEL
Facilitator
Founder and Chief Catalyst, Catalyst at Large
Presentation (members only)

ANNE TOLMUNEN
Portfolio Manager, AXA Investment Managers
Presentation (members only)

OLGA MILER
Global Program Architect, UBS Unique
Presentation (members only)

GEMA SACRISTAN POSTIGO
Chief Investment Officer, IDB Invest, Inter-American Development Bank

IN THEIR
WORDS:

This is a multi-billion dollar market opportunity.
— Suzanne Biegel

Gender lens investing is not just a good thing to do but a smart thing to do. It benefits women and society as a whole.
— Anne Tolmunen

A gender lens should be applied as a strategic approach to truly see the needle shift.
— Olga Miler

Our intention with gender bonds is to help create a new asset class in the debt capital markets.
— Gema Sacristan Postigo