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The increasing impact of women on economic growth is impossible to overlook. From a regional perspective, their influence continues to grow in prominence due to several contributing factors. Besides economic solidity and greater political landscape balance, income inclusivity, healthcare advancements, and better career opportunities are all key drivers behind women becoming established at the economic level.

This is illustrated by recent statistics. For instance, women’s wealth in the Middle East was valued at $786 billion (Dh2.8 trillion) last year, and the total asset under management in the Middle East at $3.2 trillion. Moreover, the compound average growth rate (CAGR) of women’s wealth is projected to increase by 9 per cent by 2023. This is noticeably higher than the CAGR of 7.8 per cent between 2016 and 2019. The wealth of women is also anticipated to grow by 8.1 per cent and 5.1 per cent in Saudi Arabia and the UAE respectively, reaching $224 billion and $103 billion in three years.

Catering to women

Women’s wealth will significantly contribute to the region’s overall affluence in the years ahead. However, it does remain apparent that certain components continue to prevent women from receiving the needed support from the wider wealth management community — fewer positions in key financial areas, the lack of substantial services, inaccurate comprehension of personal choices, and a lack of understanding in women’s demands and expectations.

With the aforementioned forecasts, every indication suggests women’s wealth will continue in an upward trajectory. However, research shows that the wealth management community has not fully acknowledged the emergence of women’s wealth as an opportunity. Therefore, there is an imperative to capitalise on this expanding segment by acting now and assisting women in meeting their objectives and realising their potential.

Eliminating discrepancies

Across the Middle East, steps should be taken right away to promote gender equality, encourage social inclusion, and ensure objectives relating to both are accomplished as soon as possible. After all, biases concerning women continue to be a damaging and unsustainable feature in many wealth management areas. As such, the onus is on wealth managers, individually and collectively, to eliminate such discrepancies, drive diversity and understanding, strengthen competencies relating to culture, and concentrate their efforts on ensuring female clients’ preferences are being met and addressed. Furthermore, the wealth management community should begin laying the foundations to become client-focused and gender-inclusive by adopting standardised processes in all recruitment phases and setting up diverse teams, which is proven to bring about permanent cultural change effectively.

Balanced approach

It is equally important to understand that clients, both men and women, require the right and sustained support to determine their needs and accordingly build a portfolio that matches their aspirations. Therefore, wealth managers must work with women using the same approach they would adopt with men. From the outset, they need to establish the client’s vision and understand the reasons behind their goals. Through a strategy tailored to the client’s aims and expectations, the odds of providing better services and contributing to successful outcomes at every step of the journey will substantially increase.

Now is the time for wealth managers across the Middle East to oversee an overhaul of women’s wealth in its entirety. The projected impact and growth estimated in women’s wealth in the region emphasise the need for wealth managers to ensure that their female clientele meets their goals and drive sustainable practices as simultaneous priorities. In doing so, wealth managers will be well positioned to reap the long-term benefits stemming from a vibrant women’s wealth market.

— The writer is the Managing Director and Partner at Boston Consulting Group (BCG)